MOUNT VERNON - Cornell knew that any chance for success against unbeaten Lake Forest (Ill.) would begin and end with stopping the Foresters' star tailback, Joey Valdivia.
The Rams never got started.
Valdivia ran for 126 yards, four touch ... »
IOWA CITY -- It's always a crossroads moment when reporters receive the final notes for the past sports season.
It officially caps what just happened. The stats don't change. The book is closed. It's history.
For Iowa's 2013-14 men's basketball season, the 1-7 finish sours most thoughts about the season. But the end-of-season stat pack does show some impressive statistics. Let's go through most of the stats -- good, bad and ugly -- on both sides of the ledger.
Iowa (20-13, 9-9 Big Ten) won 20 or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005-06. It wasn't that long ago (2010-11) when Iowa lost 20 or more games in consecutive years.
The Hawkeyes qualified for their first NCAA tournament since 2006. It was their 23rd appearance. I know plenty of you view the First Four as less an extension of the NCAA tournament and more of a version of basketball purgatory. But the NCAA considers it a tournament appearance, so officially it is.
Iowa's 23 NCAA tournament appearances ranks sixth in the current Big Ten. After the school's last appearance in 2006, Iowa ranked third in the league. That's what a seven-year losing itch will do to you.
Iowa led the Big Ten in scoring (81.5 points a game) and scoring margin (11.2). The Hawkeyes scored 2,689 points, the fifth-most in school history. Iowa's 476 free-throw attempts topped the Big Ten in league play, 52 more than runner-up Wisconsin.
Iowa averaged 14,976 in home attendance, the school's best since 2002.
The Hawkeyes were ranked for 16 consecutive weeks and reached the top 10 for the first time since 2002.
Coach Fran McCaffery is one of 12 coaches to guide four teams to the NCAA tournament. Only one, Lon Kruger, has led five different programs to the tournament.
Senior Devyn Marble is only the second Big Ten player (Michigan's Gary Grant) since 1985-86 to to finish with more than 1,650 points, 375 assists, 450 rebounds and 175 steals. Since Grant finished playing in 1988, Marble is the first league player to finish his career with those stats in 26 years.
Marble ended with 1,694 points, finishing fifth all-time. He was 11 points shy of tying point guard B.J. Armstrong, who will represent Marble as his agent, according to Marble's father, Roy. Devyn Marble was one of only two Iowa players to score more than 550 points, grab 100 rebounds, dish 100 steals and snag 55 steals as a senior. Armstrong was the other. Both played 33 games as a senior.
Marble ranked second in the Big Ten in league scoring , averaging 18.3 points a game. He put up 17.0 points a game overall. He became the first Iowa player since Adam Haluska in 2007 to earn first-team all-Big Ten honors. Marble's father ranks as the school's all-time scoring leader but was named first-team all-Big Ten. Devyn Marble finished his career in the top 10 of nine different categories. He ranks second to his father in career field-goal attempts.
Junior Aaron White was the nation's only player to shoot better than 55 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line. For the second consecutive year, White was named to the Big Ten's third team. He was the only Big Ten player to average 13 points and seven rebounds in conference play this year.
White ranks 18th in Iowa scoring with 1,301 career points. He's one of only four Iowa players (Roy Marble, Ronnie Lester, Jess Settles) to reach 1,300 points before their senior seasons. If White matches his annual average of 433 points, he'll move into fourth in all-time scoring. White needs 479 points to move into second. He totaled 488 points as a sophomore.
White led the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (58.4), was fifth in rebounding (6.7), ninth in free-throw percentage (80.7) and 16th in scoring (12.8). He's likely to set Iowa's career free-throw record. He has 423 free throws, and Roy Marble holds the record with 516.
White is the fifth player since 1960 to lead Iowa in rebounding in three consecutive seasons. His 17 rebounds against Iowa State were the most in a game by an Iowa player since Greg Brunner had 23 in 2006. No Iowa player has led the team in four straight years.
Junior center Gabe Olaseni was one of only four players nationally with at least 160 rebounds to register more boards on offense (82) than defense (81). He ranked second in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (2.5). He blocked at least three shots five different times and he ranked 10th in the Big Ten.
Sophomore point guard Mike Gesell was first in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in assist-to-turnover at 3.0. In an 18-point victory against outright league champion Michigan, Gesell notched 10 points, eight assists and three steals. It was just the second time since 1997 (Jeff Horner the other) produced those stats. He also had 13 points, six assists and no turnovers in a loss at Minnesota.
Senior Melsahn Basabe finished with 1,119 points to rank 33rd in Iowa history. He had 752 rebounds, the most among active Big Ten players. He also blocked 148 shots, fourth-most in Iowa history.
Senior Zach McCabe ended his career with 871 points and grabbed 509 rebounds. He set a school record by playing in 137 games.
Sophomore center Adam Woodbury joined Kevin Boyle as the only Iowa players to score at least 16 points, grab eight rebounds and register one assist in their first NCAA tournament game. Woodbury improved his free-throw percentage from 51.0 to 71.0.
What has separated Iowa from good to potentially great the last two years is how it competes in close games against league competition. Over the last two seasons, Iowa is 6-17 against Big Ten foes in games decided by single digits. Of those six victories only one -- a four-point 2013 win at home against Wisconsin -- came against an opponent that finished with a winning record.
Blown leads were the killer in 2012-13. Iowa finished 4-8 in single-digit games and blew four leads with two minutes remaining in the game. The Hawkeyes were brutal on offense, making just 32.1 percent from the floor (compared to opponents' 51.6 percent) and shooting just 60.9 percent from the free-throw line (compared to 79.3 percent by opponents). Iowa was outscored 118-82 in the final two minutes or overtime in those 12 games.
This year, Iowa was 2-9 in single-digit games against Big Ten foes. Conversely, Wisconsin was 6-6 and Minnesota was 6-5 in single-digit games. Of its nine single-digit losses to Big Ten competition, Iowa was behind entering the final two minutes eight times. The only lead it blew in the final two minutes was at home against Wisconsin, a game in which it led by one point.
But at one point Iowa held the lead in every one of those single-digit games, including the losses. Of its final four losses to Big Ten teams, Iowa led by at least six points in every one of them.
Late-game inefficiency wasn't quite as dramatic as the 2012-13 season. In the final two minutes or overtime of single-digit games against Big Ten teams, Iowa shot 39.3 percent from the floor (40 percent by foes). Free-throw shooting was almost even -- 77.1 percent for Iowa; 77.4 percent for opponents. Iowa was outscored 90-89 in the final two minutes or overtime in those 11 games.
Perhaps the most inexplicable part of Iowa's late-season collapse started with rebounding. Through the team's first 25 games, Iowa was outrebounded just twice. In its final eight games, Iowa was outrebounded six times.
Before a tight home loss to Wisconsin, Iowa led the Big Ten in rebounding with 39.8 per game and in rebounding margin at 8.2. By the end of Big Ten play, Iowa ranked second at 37.1 and still led in margin at 5.0. But over the final six Big Ten games, Iowa averaged just 31.8 rebounds to its opponents' 33.1.
Much of that dealt with struggling defense and opponents' field-goal percentage. Late in the season, Iowa often went with smaller lineups to curb guard penetration. That led to fewer rebounds. Before the loss to Wisconsin, Iowa ranged third in the Big Ten in field-goal defense at 41.3 percent. After the season, Iowa ended up 11th at 44.8 percent. That incredible fall was spurred by allowing its final six opponents to shoot a combined 52 percent from the floor. Minnesota knocked down 61.2 percent, including eight consecutive 3-pointers.
Iowa finished last in points allowed at 73.6. Before the Wisconsin game, Iowa ranked ninth at 69.1 points per game. Under McCaffery, the Hawkeyes never will lead the Big Ten in points allowed because of their offense. An uptempo style of play leads to more possessions for both teams. That usually leads to more points.
In Iowa's final three regular-season games and its Big Ten Tournament loss to Northwestern, Iowa struggled to stay active after halftime. In a victory against Purdue, Iowa led 50-37, but the Boilermakers staged a 12-2 run in the first four minutes. At Michigan State, the Hawkeyes led 41-39 at halftime, then promptly gave up a 9-0 run to trail 48-41. Then Iowa held a 34-29 lead against Illinois but in the first 1:33, Illini raced to an 8-2 run. In the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern started the half on a 10-3 run to lead 41-34.
Iowa remained focused after halftime against Tennessee and led for the first 17 minutes of the second half.
LOOKING AHEAD I
Iowa will need to replace 995 points (37 percent of its offense) next year. That starts with Marble, who scored 560 points. Basabe (231) and McCabe (201) each averaged at least six points a game. The Hawkeyes had brought back 93 percent of their scoring into this past season.
Marble led the team in scoring at 17.0 points a game. Iowa's next three scorers (White, 12.8; Gesell, 7.8; Jarrod Uthoff, 7.6) will return. In all five of Iowa's top seven scorers come back and 63 percent of its scoring returns.
The Hawkeyes lose 29 percent of their rebounding with Basabe (second), Marble (fifth) and McCabe (sixth). But Iowa returns four of five leading rebounders.
Iowa has three scholarships filled for next year by players at multiple positions. Iowa has two scholarships available for this fall, after announcing redshirt freshman Kyle Meyer will elect to transfer.
Junior-college point guard Trey Dickerson averaged 19.7 points, 5.6 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game as a freshman at Williston (N.D.) Junior College. Dickerson, who stands 6 foot and is from Queens, N.Y., was named Mon-Dak Conference MVP and 24/7 Hoops listed him as the nation's top junior-college point guard. He currently is a freshman and is eligible to play three years at Iowa. He averaged about two 3-pointers a game and his assist-to-turnover ratio was 1.9.
Forward Dominique Uhl (6-9) was named first-team All-Group 1 and first-team All-Ocean by the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger. Uhl, a German native, played at Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., and helped lead the school to 28 and 29 wins in consecutive seasons. Uhl averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds as a junior. Complete statistics are unavailable, but through nine games Uhl averaged 11.7 points a game.
Shooting guard Brady Ellingson of Sussx Hamilton (Wis.) was named second-team all-state despite missing several weeks with mononucleosis. Ellingson, who stands 6-foot-4, scored 38 of his team's 49 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, in a regional final victory. Ellingson was double-covered on his buzzer-beater.
"Ellingson is a star. Iowa has a heck of a player coming," Kettle Moraine assistant coach Mike Serath told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "What else could we do on that last shot? We got two guys right in his face and he still drilled it."
Ellingson averaged 25.4 points a game this year and hit 91.7 percent of his free throws. Last year, Ellingson scored 21.3 points a game and shot 51 percent from the floor. He was 48 percent from 3-point range.
Easily the 85-67 beatdown of Michigan on Feb. 8. The Hawkeyes drilled 8-of-11 3-pointers in the first half, and Devyn Marble tied a school record with six. Marble finished the game with 26 points and at that point, the Hawkeyes appeared likely to challenge the Wolverines for the league crown.
"We ran into a buzzsaw today of Iowa," Michigan Coach John Beilein said afterward. "This is the way they were playing when watching the first semester, no matter who they playing against. They punched us early, and it was hard to respond."
The 79-74 defeat to border rival Wisconsin on Feb. 22 in front of a capacity crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa was ranked No. 15, Wisconsin 16th and the series was tied 79-79. The Hawkeyes led 72-71 with 1 minute remaining before Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky took over with an inside basket, a steal and then a pair of free throws within a 13-second span. Kaminsky scored six points in the final 37 seconds. Iowa entered the game one game out of first place. It sent the team free-falling, and Wisconsin surged all the way to the Final Four.
Iowa rallying from a 17-point deficit to beat Xavier in a Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal. The Hawkeyes earning their first road win against a top-five program in a 10-point victory at Ohio State. Iowa racing to an early lead, then holding on to win at Illinois for just the second time since 1987. Josh Oglesby scoring six consecutive points in the first half's final 32 seconds to spur Iowa from a 10-point deficit to a 21-point win. The way the team rallied around Coach McCaffery when his son, Patrick, was diagnosed with a thyroid tumor and wore #teampat T-shirts.
There were several, but we'll go with five. The team was stalled for more 12 hours in an airplane following a trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis. Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery was ejected, suspended for a game and fined following an on-court incident with officials at Wisconsin. Several fans taunting Zach McCabe on Twitter after the Wisconsin game, and McCabe's vulgar response leading to a team Twitter ban. The team leaving Bloomington, Ind., in waves after their game getting postponed for nine days because of a metal facing crashing from the Assembly Hall ceiling. The lifeless effort against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Devyn Marble, for all the reasons listed above, plus his stellar defensive play in head-to-head match-ups against fellow Big Ten first-teamers Gary Harris of Michigan State and Michigan's Nik Stauskas. Marble also was asked to frequently run the point.
LOOKING AHEAD II
The majority of Iowa's primary 2014-15 schedule is known. The Hawkeyes will play in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 20-21 against Syracuse, Texas or California (two of three). Two preliminary round games will be held between Nov. 14 and Nov. 17 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa will face an ACC opponent on Dec. 2 or Dec. 3 as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Hawkeyes will play Iowa State (likely date Dec. 12) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa will play instate rival Northern Iowa on Dec. 20 at Wells Fargo Arena in the Big 4 Classic.
In league play, Iowa will face Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska and Ohio State twice. The Hawkeyes will play Michigan State and Illinois, plus newcomers Maryland and Rutgers only at home. Iowa will play at Michigan, Penn State, Purdue and Indiana in single-play games.