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Overreaction Monday: Hawkeye State

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It’s a slow week without much going on in the world of Hawkeye sports, at least we are living in a Hawkeye State.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Iowa
With key wins on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from the Hawkeyes, all is right in the world.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s amazing how much things can change in a week’s time, isn’t it? A week ago, things looked like they could turn south for Fran and Co. The Hawkeyes were fresh off a home loss to Nebraska-Omaha, a growing pain that could have been foreseen, but was tough to swallow nonetheless. Making matters worse in the minds of many hoops fans was the utter dismantling of that same Omaha squad by Iowa State Monday evening. A squad that managed 98 points against Iowa could only muster 47 against the Cyclones and the defensive situation in Iowa City looked grim. But this Monday, that’s exactly where we start.

1. Defense! (clap, clap) Defense!

Little eight pound, six ounce baby Jesus! Where has that been all season? Ask and ye shall receive! I guess. Following the embarrassment of giving up 98 to Omaha, on the heels of 92 to Notre Dame and 100 to Memphis, Iowa had themselves a defensive week. Monday was a “get right” game and I didn’t put much stock in the Hawks only giving up 68 in a blowout of Stetson. Mostly because, well, Stetson. But Thursday night we watched the Iowa Hawkeyes, for the first time all season, hold a quality opponent under 90 (before you all jump down my throat and tell me they only gave up 74 to Virginia - no, just no. Virginia only scored 74 because they are Virginia and they were up by 30 on Iowa, not because of anything Iowa did to them).

Don’t get me wrong, the Cyclones didn’t help themselves (and believe me, if you ask them it’s the only reason they lost), but Iowa played with some passion and fire. They were getting after it on the glass (they out-rebounded ISU 42-39) and played more defense than I’ve seen all year. The rivalry game aspect surely had something to do with it, but if an ounce of that can spill over into the rest of the year, the glimpses we’ve seen of this team could really turn into a window into our future.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Iowa
Iowa showed flashes of the ability to actually play defense Thursday. If that continues, this team could be a borderline tourney team.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

2. Back to the Future!

Speaking of the future, let’s get back to that, shall we? The storyline leading into Thursday night was the experience of Iowa State against the youth movement happening in Iowa City. The youth won Thursday. Perhaps most importantly is how they won. Sure, Jok did his thing, dropping 23 and 9 rebounds. But the next two leading scorers were freshmen Isaiah Moss and Cordell Pemsl.

I’ve been pretty outspoken on Pemsl thus far this season. I love his game. But Moss is really starting to show what we hoped we might see from one of these young guards. He has an ability to get to the rim and score in traffic that is exactly what this team needs. He isn’t near the shooter Jok or Bohannon is, but he is just good enough to keep defenders honest. He showed some great defense Thursday and had some hustle plays that are sure to keep him on the floor.

The experience this young team gets throughout the year, including playing a tough non-conference slate, will pay huge dividends down the road. Losing Jok will be tough to be sure but the future absolutely looks bright. In a season that is sure to have more ups and downs, that future is key to keeping fans excited.

3. Hawkeye State

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but a dead Cyclone perhaps. And given the outspoken nature of the Cyclone fans in my life during basketball season, you better believe I’m going to take a moment to gloat. Sure, we all took a few shots when Iowa drubbed Iowa State 42-3 in football. But that was to be expected, to an extent, going into the season. Then the Iowa women took down Iowa State 88-76 on Wednesday night. Of course, we know the men did their thing Thursday. And the Iowa wrestling squad completed the sweep on Saturday with a 26-9 drubbing of the Cyclones. The swimming and diving team did their part with a 197-101 win. Even the Iowa managers took down the Cyclones. It was a complete sweep.

Now, we won’t be taking any pot shots calling people clowns. We are above that and the colors do the work for us. But we will stoop to the level of calling them little brother. Not because Iowa just took every team Iowa State threw at them out to the wood shed, but because it is factually correct. Iowa was established in 1847, more than a decade before Iowa State. Deal with it, little brother.

4. Snubbage

With Iowa hoops off until next week, let’s mosey back over to football shall we? Not much going on this week, but we did see several awards handed out. Shocker, Iowa isn’t being highly recognized around the country. We all saw the snubbage that occurred with the unveiling of the All-Big Ten teams. Last week wasn’t much different. The only real bright spot was Desmond King. King was named a Walter Kamp 2nd Team All-American and a USA Today 1st Teamer. USA Today also had Sean Welsh as a 2nd-Teamer. That’s your list. I’m not going to make a push for many others, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but the Outlaw continues to get snubbed in my opinion.

5. Nevermind!

Wait, what was I saying about getting snubbed? Nevermind! Iowa’s offensive line was named the Joe Moore Offensive Line of the Year Award. I’ll admit, there were a number of times that I had my doubts. The pass protection looked pretty rough early on, but this group got it together. And any time you have two rushers nearly top the 1000 yard mark, the offensive line is doing something pretty damn well. Congratulations to the Iowa offensive line. In a year where there were major offensive deficiencies, this was truly a bright spot as the year went on. Kudos on the well-deserved recognition.

6. More Snubbage

They handed out the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. Ron Coluzzi wasn’t even invited. WTF is happening in the world that Iowa players get no respect?? Sure, Lamar Jackson had an OK year. But how many coffin-corner punts did he have? And you better bet your ass Ron wouldn’t show up to accept the trophy in no $90 suit.

Congrats to Lamar Jackson. The guy was serious like a human video game much of the season. But if I don’t see a pooch punt out of him in the Citrus Bowl, I will consider this a snub of the legendary Ron Coluzzi.

7. Life Goals

As a parent of a toddler boy with a second on the way, I have dreams of backyard football for years to come. I remember those times with my dad and all the times with friends on the playground or at someone’s house. Now that I’m the adult, I have legitimate concerns about my ability to turn off the competitive spirit and allow the youngsters to win, build confidence and generally stay healthy. Apparently, if I just invest in a mascot outfit I can throw those concerns out the window. Enjoy.

Happy Monday people. It’s a slow week. Iowa football is off for the month. Hoops is off until Saturday and wrestling is resting until December 29th. The goal is to survive this week. Survive. At least we will be doing it in a Hawkeye State.