Let's face it: the research departments of sports broadcast teams are busy folks, and kind of lazy, so it's not surprising when they go back to the same well of anecdotes over and over again. We want to help these harried folks out, so we have collected several fun factual tidbits for broadcasters to use during the upcoming Hawkeye basketball season.
JARROD UTHOFF PLANS TO EMERGE AS MORE THREE-DIMENSIONAL PLAYER
After a frustrating first year where he often felt "pushed around" by bigger players, junior forward Jarrod Uthoff hopes to have more success thanks to the addition of dimensionality to his 6'9", 210 lb. frame. "It was rough last year, being the only two-dimensional player in the Big Ten. I got bullied a bit by bigger players who had the quality of physical depth, and then sometimes I would turn at the wrong angle and players on my own team would think I had disappeared entirely."
"It's true," said junior point guard Anthony Clemmons. "Sometimes I'd expect Jarrod to be coming off a screen, and all I would see is this faint shimmer of light. Then he'd reappear, but the window had closed to pass it to him. I think things will be a lot easier now that he occupies three-dimensional space like all the rest of us."
Uthoff reportedly developed the additional dimension by spending more time in the weight room, improving his diet, and, in his words, "by super-gluing this gigantic piece of foam-board to my back." The lanky forward now has a uniform depth of four inches, although he expects that number may come down over the course of the season due to "regular wear and tear, and of course, rainy or snowy weather."
PETER JOK TO PLAY WITH SPECIALIZED SAFETY GEAR
Sophomore shooting guard Peter Jok, in an effort to protect his "health and well-being" as a player, will wear additional safety guards this year. In addition to a padded sleeve on his shooting arm (which he wore during his freshman year), the dynamic scorer will add flashing red lights and an orange safety flag attached to a wire. "These things are sewn into the uniform," said Jok, "and actually duplicate lights and flags have been sewn into all my regular clothes as well." When asked why he is taking these extraordinary measures, Jok replied: "I'm just concerned about avoiding injury." He then glanced nervously at head coach Fran McCaffery, who happened to be standing in a corner, fixing Jok with a flinty glare, and added: "I'm really, really concerned about avoiding injury." McCaffery then made a slashing gesture with his right index finger across his throat, which this reporter took to mean that Jok's interview availability was over for the day.
MIKE GESELL TO WEAR CUSTOMIZED PHONETIC JERSEY
After taking a required summer course in linguistics, Iowa point guard Mike Gesell has taken the unprecedented step of having his name transliterated into the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Gesell is making the change to deal with what he describes as "the persistent mispronunciation of my name."
"Look, people: it's Guh-ZELL, with the stress on the second syllable. Not Geh-SSELL, not Jez-ELL, and certainly not JESS-ell," said the junior point guard, moving as he spoke to a nearby blackboard.
"That's a voiced velar stop, or 'hard gee', followed by a mid-central vowel or 'schwa', a voiced alveolar sibilant, an open mid-front unrounded vowel, then an alveolar lateral approximant, or 'ell' sound. I don't know how I can be any clearer on this subject."
Gesell was inspired by his first encounter with the subject of linguistics and the immediately saw how the universal alphabet of the IPA could solve a recurring problem. "It just struck me how crazy the English language is. We just take it for granted that words shouldn't always be pronounced how they look, but that leads to situations where broadcasters are saying my last name like I'm Tom Brady's wife. There is a better way, and that way is the IPA."
Gesell said he has made it his mission to improve "the dreadful state of American spelling", starting with popular Iowa sports figures. "Ok, first off, it's 'fɛ́r-ɪnts', with the stress on the first syllable, not the second syllable. And Jarrod's last name is jút-ɒf, rhymes with 'cute-off'."
It is unclear if the NCAA will allow Gesell to play with his customized jersey, with letters cut out of felt and sewn on by Gesell's mother. "I kind of doubt that will fly," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. "They're pretty picky about that kind of thing, and, to be honest, Mike is becoming really pedantic on this subject."
DOM UHL UNVEILS NEW CATCH-PHRASES
One of Iowa's most important new additions this year, freshman forward Dom Uhl, plans to make a lot of highlight plays this year, and when he does, he will be ready. "I've been working on a series of catch-phrases I can unleash when I deliver ein posteriserende dunk or nail a three," said the German-born Uhl. "Hier sind meine besten snaps," said Uhl in his monotone German accent.
"Uhl be sorry."
"Uhl don't come back now, ya hear?"
"Uhl live to regret this."
"You just got sch-Uhl-ed."
"You just got burnt by the Uhl log."
"I am Dom. Time for you to be subbed."
"Dom, I'm good."
"Dom, Uhl got served."
"Uhl be on SportsCenter with me after that."
"Wie schmeckt meine Lederhosen?"
At this point in the interview, junior point guard Mike Gesell wandered and pointed out that Uhl's name would be transliterated "jul", not "ul" in IPA form. "It's a real shame, actually," said Gesell. "If it was 'ool', then that would open up whole new vistas of catchphrases, like 'Uhl be back', 'Uhl have what he's having', 'Uhl that and a bag of chips' — that sort of thing. Oh well, c'est la vie." At this point, Fran McCaffery passed by, noticed Gesell's pocket IPA dictionary and proceeded to chase him out of the interview room.
JOSH OGLESBY GETS HAIRCUT/CONSCIENCE TRANSPLANT FROM CHRIS KINGSBURY
In an effort to improve his "basketball assertiveness", senior guard Josh Oglesby underwent a combination hair/conscience transplant with former Iowa player Chris Kingsbury. Kingsbury, now 40 and a bank officer in Ponca, Nebraska, came to Iowa City in August to complete the experimental treatment. "Josh is a heck of a shooter, but I noticed some times that he seemed hesitant to take his shot last year," said Kingsbury. "I mean, he took shots when he was open and got the ball in rhythm, but he didn't seem to understand that for shooters like us, if you're past half court, you're open, and if you have the ball in your hands, you're in rhythm."
Kingsbury also noted that he had less use for his devil-may-care attitude now that he is in a position of fiduciary responsibility as a bank officer. "Sometimes I'll get that itch to approve a loan the second a client walks in the door, but then I have to tell myself: 'He's still 30 feet away, Chris — let's at least see what they want that money for," and cool my jets. It's my job to have a conscience now, so I'm happy to pass that aspect of my personality on to Josh."
The procedure, which was performed by experimental scientists in the university's Department of Psychology, had the unintended consequence of giving Oglesby a thick, uncombable bowl cut, very similar to Kingsbury's look in the mid '90s. "I don't quite know why that happened," said Kingsbury. "Something about the neural pathways that guide impulse control and follicle control lying close to one another in the prefrontal cortex. I'm not a scientist — don't ask me to explain."
For his part, Oglesby seems to have taken to the new personality/haircut. "Who's Oglesby? There is only Oglesbury now. Screw this interview. I'm off to the Sports Column." Oglesby then stalked out of the gym while lighting a Marlboro Red and casually swishing a 45-foot jump shot.
ANTHONY CLEMMONS PLAYS AMUSING PRANKS ON FRESHMAN TREY DICKERSON
Every team has its own good-natured initiation rituals for rookie players, and this year, Anthony Clemmons has taken charge of the process. The junior point guard arranged a series of gentle pranks for the team's four incoming players, starting with junior college transfer Trey Dickerson. Clemmons has filled Dickerson's locker with shaving cream, hidden Dickerson's bike in order to make him believe it stolen, and placed itching powder in Dickerson's gym bag.
"But here's the best one," said Clemmons. "So while Trey wasn't looking, I looked through his wallet and — boom, Social Security Card. With a little work, I soon had access to his bank accounts, university accounts, everything. I drained his savings, signed him up for all the earliest and most difficult graduate physics courses I could find, and ran up gigantic bills on several credit cards which I opened in his name. Then I gave that SSN to a contact I have in the Chinese underworld, a Mr. Qiu Xiaolong. In exchange for a nominal fee, Mr. Xiaolong agreed to have certain friends of his 'hire' Trey to work on an illicit shipping vessel that operates in the South China Sea, The Sea Mist. I had Trey in position at the bus station for the pick-up, but then the Feds cottoned on to the whole deal, and we had to quash it."
When asked what pranks he played on Dominique Uhl, Brady Ellingson and Nicholas Baer, Clemmons said he "couldn't remember", but that he may have made the newcomers carry the bags of upperclass players or buy lunch for the team. "Something good, I'm sure."
Clemmons denies that his relatively harsh treatment of Dickerson is related to his rivalry with the speedy newcomer for minutes at the point guard position. "Whaaaaaaaaaa? Don't be silly. You're being silly," said Clemmons, shifting his eyes from side to side rapidly.
When asked what he thought of all the pranking, Dickerson appeared shaken. "What Anthony did to me was awful. He took me to this place. He said they had great pizza, and that I would love it, because I'm from Queens. Said Iowa 'does pizza right.' I think it was called Casey's." At this point in the interview, Dickerson broke down into sobs, and could be heard to whisper, "The horror. The horror", under his breath.
ADAM WOODBURY SITS IN DORM ROOM, SHARPENING ELBOWS
Adam Woodbury, senior center,
Hawkeye bruiser, sit and sharpens,
Eighty grit, and then one-twenty,
Until his elbows are sharp as diamonds.
"I'm a-coming. I'm a-coming."
GABE OLASENI SAYS "BRITISH PHASE" IS OVER, ADMITS HE IS ORIGINALLY FROM KANSAS
Saying that he is "really embarrassed about the whole thing," senior center Gabe Olaseni has admitted that he is not, in fact, from London, England as he had previously maintained, but rather that he grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and merely had a severe case of teenage Anglophilia. "I just went through this phase in high school where I got into everything British," said Olaseni. "The Smiths, The Clash, Doctor Who, Monty Python, Peter Sellers. It was like everything cool was coming from this one island, so I decided that I wanted to act like I was from there, too."
Olaseni reportedly began wearing "punk" clothing, subscribing to NME and speaking with an accent he copied from religiously watching The Young Ones. "It was pretty ridiculous, in retrospect, but I was just so into that scene. I was British Gabe to all the kids at school." When recruiters from Iowa came to visit one day, Olaseni said he was "talking with the accent, like always", and that it seemed to intrigue the coaches. "They thought I was this raw project from London, not a Kansas kid who has been playing ball since I was four. I didn't mean to deceive anyone, but I think it may have influenced them."
Head coach Fran McCaffery is now aware of Olaseni's Kansas roots, but says he doesn't hold it against him. "Hey, we all go through that phase, right? I mean, I had all of Joy Division's albums, too. The fact is that we love the way Gabe has developed as a player, whether he's from London or Kansas or Mars. You can chalk this up to poor research on our part."
Broadcasters are welcomed to use these amusing anecdotes as "color" during any Iowa basketball game this year, but should be aware that most or all facts described in this article are not, per se, as facts, true. The IPA pronunciations given are, to the best of our knowledge, correct. For more information about the IPA and linguistics in general, please visit your local library.