My family is spending a year in France, helping with a church in the town of Versailles. If you're interested in us, you can check out our blog here. To say I was thrilled when I found out Coach Fran was taking the team to France would be a bit of an understatement.
As we walked toward the stadium in southeastern Paris, wearing our black and gold and trying to figure out where to go, the travel agent for the team asked us, "Are you the Millers?" We were then walked to our courtside seats next to the McCaffrey's where we watched the end of the Alabama game. Both Alabama and Temple were trounced in their games, which were against lesser competition than Iowa faced. Al Seibert, the video coordinator and administrative assistant had set all that up for us. Just before the team started warm-ups, he had all the players introduce themselves to us and then we posed for a group photo. Coach Fran and Margaret, the other coaches and wives as well as all of the players were very friendly and talkative. Coach Fran made a point of having everyone hang around for awhile after each game, to pose for pictures and just talk. Coach Fran confirmed, as Marc Morehouse and Scott Dochterman had guessed, that they are racking up a lot of roaming charges so as to stay in contact with recruits. And when I told Coach Fran it was great to get a group picture with the 2014 B1G champs, he gave me an enthusiastic high-five. As nice as it was to chat with the Franimal, it was also entertaining to be able to listen to all of his outbursts, though I was glad my son had gone home with my wife before Fran's 'discussion' with Anthony Clemmons.
Both games were held in the side gym of the Pere de Coubertin Stadium. Both games were packed out, but since it was such a tiny gym, there couldn't have been more than 150 people in attendance. There were about 10 Iowa fans there, as well as a Penn State and Iowa State fan. The first game was against an All-Star team from the highest level of French professional Basketball, (AMWGroup.net) but due to several All-Stars playing in the Euro Cup, the team was not as talented as the All-Star team that defeated the University of Kansas last summer. Most of the players were European with a couple of Americans. I heard both French and English being spoken by the other team. It was also funny to watch the Iowa players argue with the refs, which was certainly warranted, as they wouldn't have changed their calls even if they had been able to understand English.
Saturday night's game was against an actual professional team and there was a group of about 20 die hard fans, complete with soccer-style scarves and a brass horn that they blew during free throws. The horn was quite loud and annoying. The fans were really into it but also very hospitable to us. One fan congratulated us after Saturday night's win, exclaiming "bravo." After our I-0-W-A chant, one fan yelled out "I love you, Iowa," since our chant sounded a bit like "I love you." The PA announcer stated everything in both French and English and seemed to pronounce the Iowa players' names differently each time. He started the first game by declaring, "Thank you for coming to Paris, a great place to live." He also kept calling for the "fans of the black and yellow Iowa University" to make some noise.
The funniest moment of the first game was when an approximately 5 foot, 6 inch reserve point guard somehow got underneath Woodbury's legs and then stood up, causing Woody to almost topple over. The foul called on Woodbury caused Tracy Speraw to exclaim, "you can't hide out under his crotch." Unfortunately, I just missed getting that picture. The most amusing part of the 2nd game was when Olaseni attempted to swat out a rebound. Rather than sending the ball toward the top of the key, however, he sent it straight into Melsan's face, about 3 feet away, knocking Basabe over. I think that play was an even more impressive demonstration of Olaseni's power than his couple of thunderous dunks.
In the first game, I tried to pay special attention to the play of Peter Jok, whom the announcer kept referring to as "Jack," which really annoyed Tracy Speraw. Tracy also pointed out at Jok has a "sweet shot" and after he learns to play defense, will be a "special player." Jok was inconsistent, as one would expect for a guy with only 10 practices under his belt. Sometimes he looked really impressive and at other times he looked lost. He threw some nice passes and some bad passes, blocked a shot and got a shot blocked, failed to stay with the 3 point shooter but also helped cause a shot-clock violation. He was certainly entertaining to watch. He finished with 13 points. During the second game, I tried to pay attention to Uthoff but unfortunately, Uthoff didn't show much in that game. He finished with a quite 7 points. White was the MVP of the first game and Oglesby was the MVP of the 2nd game. The half-dozen Hawk fans at the 2nd game celebrated the win with a rousing rendition of "In Heaven there is no Beer."
In what felt quite ironic to me, after each game the players kept thanking us handful of Hawkeye fans for coming to the game when it should've been us thanking them for bringing Hawkeye sports to the land of the City of Lights.
I'll finish this post with a list of the different combinations from both games.
Starting 5 for game 1: Marble, Woodbury, Oglesby, Basabe, White
Next mass substitution: Olaseni, Jok, Clemmons, McCabe, Uthof
Start of 2nd quarter: White, Woodbury, Marble, Clemmons
Next mass substitution: Olaseni, Uthoff, McCabe, Marble, Clemmons.
Start of 3rd quarter: Marble, Woodbury, Oglesby, Basabe, White
Next mass substitution: Jok, Uthoff, McCabe, Clemmons, Olaseni
Start of 4th quarter: Woodbury, Basabe, Marble, White, Jok
This lineup stayed pretty much the same through the 4th quarter
Starting 5 for game 2: Marble, Woodbury, Oglesby, Basabe, White (same as other game)
First mass substition: Olaseni, Uthoff, Jok, McCabe, Clemmons
Second mass substition: Marble, Woodbury, Oglesby, Basabe, White (starters)
first quarter ended with a score of 20-20
Start of 2nd quarter: Uthoff, Clemmons, Olaseni, Jok, McCabe
Start of 3rd quarter: Marble, Woodbury, Oglesby, Basabe, White
1st mass substition: Marble, Clemmons (at point), Jok, Uthof, McCabe
Start of 4th quarter: McCabe, Clemmons, Basabe, Woodbury, McCabe
5:50 left in game: McCabe, Oglesby, White, Clemmons, Olaseni
2:19 left in game: Stokes, Meyer, Denning (point), Olaseni, Jok