It's Not Plagiarism If You Link To It is BHGP's regular news roundup. Send all tips to any of the email addresses at the bottom of the page. But preferably not all of them at once. We usually end up laughing at people who do that.
First, someone going away (temporarily). No, it's not another transfer (that's what the Gone Baby Gone tag is for anyway, yo), so don't worry about that. It's just the expected confirmation that it's becoming increasingly likely that we won't be seeing Cully Payne again this season:
"It doesn’t look good for him this year," McCaffery said on his weekly radio show.
McCaffery said it could be a month, or two months, before Payne could return.
"If it’s two months, the season is about over," McCaffery said.
Again, this isn't entirely unexpected -- back when the injury was originally diagnosed and Payne went under the knife, there was some doubt that he'd be healed up in time to return to the court before the end of the season. Now it seems like that's the case after all. And, frankly, it's probably for the best -- for all the progress Iowa hoops is making this season, a postseason trip beyond the Big Ten Tournament is best left to drug-addled hallucinations and fanciful daydreams, so there's no sense in rushing Payne back before he's ready. Let him get fully recovered for next season. But in the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that nothing happens to Bryce Cartwright (or Roy Devyn Marble), 'cause options at the PG spot are slim right now.
Second, someone coming (back). Meanwhile, as the basketball team says "goodbye" to one of its members (albeit temporarily), the wrestling team says "welcome back" to one of its former members. Former starter (and 2010 NCAA runner-up) Montell Marion has been reinstated:
Montell Marion’s once-permanent suspension from the Iowa wrestling program was lifted Tuesday when the school reinstated the NCAA runner-up.
The reinstatement allows Marion to begin practicing again with the Hawkeyes. A statement released by the school said a decision on whether the junior will be allowed to compete again for Iowa will be made at a later date.
The second part of that statement is important because while Marion is back -- he's not really back yet and won't be until he's allowed to compete again (and when that will happen is still TBD). That delay is a sensible move from both a cautious standpoint (Marion's understandably on a very short disciplinary leash) and a competitive standpoint (he hasn't been training with the team for months, so it's neither fair nor tactically wise to send him into the fray immediately).
Much like the Payne news, this wasn't a huge surprise, since there have been persistent rumors lately that Marion would be reinstated but unable to compete until January 30th. The timing of this decision is a little curious, what with the Iowa athletic department enjoying its worst publicity since 2007 in light of the football team's off-field tomfoolery. Considering that Marion wasn't exactly a first-time offender when he earned his (not-so) "permanent" suspension back in May and the recent goings-on with Iowa athletes, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Iowa administrators decline to allow him back to the fold. Hopefully, the fact that he is being allowed back is a sign that he truly has made changes in life and will be able to avoid the nonsense that's dogged him in the past.
Assuming he's allowed to compete again (not a guarantee, but a fair assumption), what would his return mean to the Iowa team's chances of repeating at the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments? It depends which weight he would wrestle at (one school of thought has him at 149 and the younger Ballweg at 141 to mitigate the gaping hole we currently have at 149, but Marion is probably a natural 141 guy, so if he can unseat the younger Ballweg, that's probably where he'd compete at), but it would certainly improve their odds. Getting back an NCAA runner-up from a year ago would be a boost to anyone's team, particularly one as inexperienced as Iowa's squad. Could it be the difference between being four-time champs and not? Probably not; while he was NCAA runner-up a year ago (and had a fine season), there was a fair amount of good fortune in his tournament run (he may not be so fortunate in 2011), and, frankly, based on current results, Iowa's team isn't good enough to repeat even if he manages to duplicate his performance from a year ago. There's a lot of improvement that needs to be made for a fourth title to be possible.
And you laughed when I called him the "Ba-saviour." On the heels of his career-best performance against OSU last night, Mike Hlas breaks out the (well-deserved) plaudits:
The Hawkeyes’ Melsahn Basabe probably isn’t a one-and-done, but he sure gave quite the performance by a freshman in the first-half of Tuesday’s OSU-Iowa game Tuesday night. He out-Sullingered Sullinger in the half, with 16 points to Jared’s 10. He was no more intimidated than the Buckeyes’ football team was against Arkansas in last evening’s Sugar Bowl.
Basabe had 22 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocked shots himself. He’s legit. If McCaffery adds similar talent in the near future, the Hawkeyes will do more than just stay close to one of the nation’s finest teams.
Mind you, the key for Basabe will be developing consistency. While he hasn't had any other nights quite like last night this season, he has had some flashes of brilliance (13-8 against Wake Forest, 14-7 against UNI, 12-14 against ISU -- with 7 blocks), he's also had much quieter performances since then (9-5 against Drake, 7-3 against Louisiana Tech, 4-2 against Illinois). Then again, maybe that was just the flu. In any event, he's proving to be not only one of the most exciting players on the Iowa team (and one of the better freshmen in the Big Ten), but also one of the key building blocks for McCaffery's entire rebuilding effort. He's doing things as a freshman that we haven't seen since Tyler Smith made his one-year sojourn in Iowa City -- and that's damn exciting to see.
POSTCARDZ FROM THE EDGE
* The Cantankerous Mr. Paterno has declined to grant benched freshman QB Robert Bolden his release to transfer; naturally, Bolden isn't taking this too well. This will be ugly.
* Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst reportedly has an offer to take the same job at Texas (for roughly three times the pay, an easier conference, and infinitely better weather); apparently Mack Brown didn't watch the Rose Bowl.
* Following a brief reprieve last night, the angry mob got their blood today, as RichRod was formally led to the guillotine. The more tragic news is that his entire staff was let go, too, which means Big Ten offenses will never again get to scrimmage against the punchless efforts of a Greg Robinson defense. RIP, GERG.
* KOK makes the cut for the UConn' Rivals site's Coaching Hot Board ($$$ maybe). Keep hope alive and keep tweeting with the #KOK4UCONN hashtag, people.