Dribbling is FUNdamental. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Note: coverage of the Iowa men's golf team at the NCAA Championships forthcoming.
Traveling is overrated. Iowa announced their finalized basketball non-conference schedule and what it lacks in potential RPI-boosting opposition it more than makes up for in opportunities for Iowa to get off to a very good start. And for a program that's lost at least five non-conference games in four of the past five seasons, creampuffs are just what the doctor ordered right now. It's also (very very) heavy on home games:
11/6 -- NW Missouri State (exhibition)
11/11 -- Chicago State
11/14 -- North Carolina A&T
11/17 -- Northern Illinois
11/20 -- Creighton (@ Des Moines)
11/23 -- Campbell
11/26 -- IPFW
11/29 -- Clemson
12/3 -- Brown
12/6 -- @ UNI
12/9 -- @ Iowa State
12/17 -- Drake
12/19 -- Central Arkansas
12/22 -- Boise State
That's right: Iowa isn't leaving the state of Iowa until Big Ten play tips off in late December. Hell, they're only leaving Iowa City three times in those first thirteen games. As for the quality of this competition, well, let's turn to Bohnenkamp:
The Hawkeyes will play only five teams with winning records from last season, with only one — Clemson — having made an NCAA tournament appearance. Iowa will play three other teams that played in the postseason — Creighton reached the championship series of the College Basketball Invitational, Boise State also played in the CBI, and UNI played in the Collegeinsider.com tournament.
Three teams — Chicago State, Northern Illinois and Central Arkansas — had single-digit win totals last season.
Yeah, not exactly Murderer's Row there. There's not much sizzle in this assortment of teams. In fact, outside of the annual intra-state clashes and the Creighton tilt (which feels like it really ought to be an annual clash; can they replace Drake?), the only teams with a pulse (or even a recognizable name) are Clemson and Boise State. But that's all pointless right now: you need to walk before you can run and Franimal's merry men need to learn how to win before they can worry about strength of schedule or RPI or resume-building. If Iowa's still loading up on cupcakes in a few years, feel free to bitch and moan; for now, realize that Iowa probably has a legitimate chance to get 10-12 wins in these games alone -- and that it took them an entire season to get that many wins the past two years.
I want my BTN! If you thought saying "Big Ten Network" took too long and was just too clunky, good news: the network is officially rebranding itself as BTN. Which is what pretty much everyone had been calling it anyway, but hey. In more exciting news, BTN is (justifiably) excited about the opportunity to increase the Gus Johnson presence on their broadcasts. The main beneficiary will (unsurprisingly) be college basketball, where he'll go from calling 20-ish games in 2010-2011 to as many as 35 games in 2011-2012, which means more opportunities to hear Gus announce the sport he was born to call, in the league we're predisposed to care the most about. RISE AND FIRE.
Meanwhile, BTN also revealed more information about their coverage plans for the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game this December. The good news? Gus will be on the call. The bad news?
"We’ll be there," BTN President Mark Silverman said. "We’ll be on the field and do a pre-game show. Really it will be like a pre-pre-game. We’ll do a lead-in, a pre-game to their pre-game and a post-game to their post-game. They’re going to make it a major event, but we’re going to be very involved with the championship game."
In other words: ALL DINARDO, ALL THE TIME. We kid, since DiNardo is actually pretty tolerable as a studio analyst -- he's certainly not as obnoxious as, say, Tim Doyle -- although that much pre-game coverage with the BTN peeps also means that we're liable to get hypnotized by Smilin' Glen Mason's ever-present rictus grin and gleaming chompers. Good thing there will be other games to watch that day. Oh, and the debate over the site of future Big Ten Championship Games? That could be settled as soon as this weekend. (Please please please Chicago.)
Video coordinator jobs
killed the radio star gave the former NBA player a new career. All credit in the world to Ryan Bowen for being able to put together a 10-year NBA career, but the fact that he hasn't been joined by many (any?) other Iowa-to-NBA success stories (I can think of Ricky Davis and then my mind goes blank; EDIT and how could I forget about Reggie Evans?) says a lot about why Iowa basketball has been in such a prolonged slump. That said, it sounds like he's putting that decade of NBA experience to good use as Iowa's video coordinator:
Bowen, 35, has spent this season as Iowa’s video coordinator, a role that allows him to teach in front of a video board but NCAA rules forbid him from instructing on the court. He can provide conversational insight, however.
"He’s a guy that you can bounce things off of after the game on the bus ride," Iowa senior Matt Gatens said. "He might get right in your ear telling you a few things here and there. He’s been there. He’s been here and at the highest level for about 10 years.
Bowen's reflections on going from being a pro to, well, not being a pro are interesting, though it sounds like he's adjusting pretty well to life among the plebes. It would be impossible to point to anything in Iowa's play last year that was direct evidence of Bowen's work, but it seems pretty apparent that he was another good cog in a squad of very good coaches.
CREAM CHEESE-SLATHERED BAGELZ
* Per The Omaha World-Herald, Iowa gets Nebraska home and away next year in hoopyball, which is good news indeed if Nebraska is as down as we expect them to be.
* The wheels of construction just keep on turnin' in Iowa City: as the Carver renovations near completion, the focus shifts back to the football program and their pending new indoor practice facility and football offices.
* SBN's NY Giants site, Big Blue View, has a brief interview with Tyler Sash if you've been going through MF'ing withdrawal.
* SB Nation Indiana previews the 2011 Iowa football team and thinks a favorable schedule can get them to 9-3.
* RS freshman heavyweight wrestler Bobby Telford earned Wrestler of the Week honors from TheMat.com after going 3-1 at the FILA Junior Freestyle World Cup.
* FOTP Bama Hawkeye speculates about what sort of punishment may be in line for Ohio State in the wake of Scandalfest2k11 -- and which Big Ten teams might benefit the most from a weakened OSU.
* Meanwhile, excellent OSU blog Eleven Warriors wonders whether Jim Tressel is more of a Ned Stark (a noble man swallowed up by a corrupt system) or Littlefinger (a conniving schemer who knows how to work said system perfectly). The answer, really, is neither -- but it's a good read anyway.
* Finally, Hlas puts this scandal in context with some other recent(ish) Big Ten rule-breaking; in terms of malfeasance this doesn't really stack up to those incidents -- but then again, they also didn't involve the conference's standard-bearer for the last decade or one of the game's most respected coaches.