Back to the future. We all know this season is a lost cause when it comes to the hoopyball -- all we ask for are signs of progress, the occasional win, and (please for the love of god) no mass transfers in the offseason -- but is there really good reason to hope that the future will be better? We know Iowa should return everyone but Jarryd Cole, as well as adding at least a healthy Cully Payne and a pair of talented freshmen that should improve overall depth at the very least (and there's still the possibility of adding two more players, too). And even in just a handful of games we've seen a few players improve markedly (Basabe, Cartwright, Brommer, Marble). So, yes, there's certainly reason to believe that the future is pretty Frantastic, at least as far as the Iowa team itself is concerned. But whither the rest of the Big Ten? Might it be coming back to the pack a bit?
There is a chance for Indiana and Iowa to move north in the near future. Seniors have logged 11.8 percent of the minutes played for Iowa this season, which ranks ninth in the league. Indiana is 10th at 11.4 percent. Michigan has no seniors on its roster, giving coach John Beilein an even brighter future.
One 2,000-point scorer, Penn State’s Talor Battle, and 1,000-point scorers David Lighty and Jon Diebler of Ohio State, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers of Michigan State, JuJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore of Purdue, Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis of Illinois, Jon Leuer of Wisconsin, Michael Thompson of Northwestern and Blake Hoffarber of Minnesota, are all seniors.
Yowza. That's quite a talent drain from the Big Ten after this year, which could be good news for Iowa. On the other hand, as the Register's Rick Brown points out later in the article, it's not like those senior stars are being replaced with a bunch of stiffs -- Ohio State and Illinois are both reloading with some very highly-ranked newcomers, Michigan State is bringing in a few studs, and we know the Badgers will roll another absurdly talented white big guy off their secret assembly line. Still, unless they're as hyper-talented as Jared Sullinger, freshmen are going to make mistakes and they're going to be less consistent than seniors. The Big Ten isn't suddenly going to turn into a league full of pushovers in 2012 -- but it's not going to like ramming into a brick wall eighteen times a year, either.
Caring is creepy earlier than ever. When your livelihood depends on the scrutinizing the decisions of 17-year olds, it's never too early to look ahead, which is why creeper extraordinaire Tom Lemming is already talking about the top recruits in Iowa in 2012:
Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said the 2012 class in Iowa is average at best but does feature one special player in West Des Moines Dowling Catholic receiver Amara Darboh.
"He can stretch the defense, he’s got decent height, good hands and runs well, he’s definitely a big-time wide receiver," Lemming said of Darboh, who led Dowling to an overtime victory against City High in the Class 4A state title game in November.
It's a slightly strange class by Iowa standards; in addition to Darboh, the three other players mentioned by Lemming are all either running backs or wide receivers. Historically, Iowa's been good at producing guys in the trenches, but struggled to produce Big Ten-caliber players at the skill positions, leading Iowa to often go far afield to find players there (indeed, just this year Iowa went to Texas and Massachusetts to pick up a pair of wide receivers). It would certainly be a boon to Iowa's recruiting efforts if they could pick up some talented skill position threats in their own backyard.
The slow down game. A few days after putting on an offensive show for the ages against Northwestern (63 points in the second half), the Iowa women's hoopsters put on a display of stifling defense, holding Wisconsin to a school-record 11 points in the first half and staking themselves to a 24-11 lead. Wisconsin cut into the lead a few times in the second half, but their cold-shooting ultimately doomed them. But was their more to their cold shooting than just good defense from Iowa? Well, maybe:
Wisconsin forward Tara Steinbauer injured a knee 2 minutes into the game, and the Badgers were discombobulated for quite some time after that.
"They’re women. They’re emotional beings," said Badgers Coach Lisa Stone. "That’s a scary thing, and it had a big effect for about 5 minutes."
LOL WUT. I'll take "Statements I won't touch with a ten-foot pole" for $100, Trebek. Meanwhile, the win moved Iowa to 8-6 in the league and 20-7 overall; their odds of winning a regular-season Big Ten title are virtually non-existent, but they certainly firmed up their NCAA Tourney bid. Meanwhile, this week in
puff pieces personality profiles: Iowa's leading scorer, Jaime Printy (and her brother, Indiana State's Jordan Printy). It's your usual story about a pair of hoopheads, but it's still a nice read.
Well the coaches had done it / not one picked Iowa to win it. Big Ten baseball having learned from, oh, every other sport under the sun that a little preseason hype never hurt anything -- especially if you're a sport otherwise struggling for attention. So for the first time ever the Big Ten released a preseason baseball poll this year, topped by last year's champion, Minnesota. Despite finishing third in the Big Ten standings a year ago and being runner-up in the Big Ten Tournament (and despite being pretty damn optimistic themselves), Iowa placed only fifth in the poll, behind Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, and Michigan State. Pfft, coaches -- what do they know? Three Iowa players also made the preseason "Players to Watch" list -- starting pitcher Jared Hippen, relief pitcher Kevin Lee, and tremendously-named 3B Zach McCool.
* Bidding on where the ball is kicked off from? It sounds like a fascinating idea, although it's a shame that it couldn't have been implemented before the Big Ten lost two thirds of its lunatic fringe in the head coaching ranks. Who wouldn't have wanted to see Tim Brewster somehow get tricked into kicking off from the two-yard line?
* If you're not reading The Kingsbury Factor, you really, really, really should be. Not only is it named after the patron saint of eagle-eyed white three-point gunners (and Iowa legend) Chris Kingsbury, but it's damn funny.
* Best Spider-Man comics ever? They've gotta be up there: