CEDAR RAPIDS - Earlier this season, a reporter asked Iowa City West boys' tennis coach Mitch Gross about the #x201c;triple crown#x201d; of prep tennis.
At the time, Gross dismissed the thought of winning a state championship in singles, dou ... »
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It’s Thursday, and seven-plus hours from tonight’s Iowa-Wisconsin men’s basketball game as I type this.
So I present to you a cavalcade of thoughts and facts about life itself. It’s just a coincidence almost are all basketball-related.
1. Here’s a freaky statistic to start this off: As of noon Thursday (and as of 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. Iowa and Iowa State’s men’s basketball teams have both played 29 games and scored 2,337 points.
2. Is it weird to anyone else that Iowa has played Maryland and Rutgers twice before it has played Wisconsin once? It’s March 2, and this is the first Iowa-Wisconsin game of the season? What the heck?
3. This could be Iowa’s last game against Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, who has been an excellent player for the Badgers. However, he isn’t the Nigel of the Year.
Nigel Williams-Goss of once-beaten Gonzaga is a junior who averages 16.3 points. Hayes averages 13.7. Hayes also has 181 free throw attempts, which is a bunch. He has made 59.7 percent of them, which isn’t great.
Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan leads the Big Ten in free throw tries with 188, but ranks just tied for 49th in the nation. Which begs the question if Big Ten officials are calling games looser than the norm.
4. By the way, “Nigel” is a great name. I think if you name a child “Nigel,” you are putting him (or her, I guess) on the path to a successful life. Name a child “Diesel,” and you may be asking for trouble.
5. Wisconsin is tied for 24th in the nation in fewest turnovers at 11.0. That ranking is unusually low for the Badgers. They were first in that stat two seasons ago, second the season before that, first in 2009-10 and 2010-11, second in 2011-12, fourth in 2012-13.
Michigan is first this season. Iowa State is fifth this season with just 10.0 per game.
6. Iowa is 10th in the nation in assists per game with 17.3. Considering the starting point guard is freshman Jordan Bohannon and his backup is sophomore Christian Williams, who rarely played last season, that’s kind of noteworthy.
7. A lot of non-Cyclones questioned Fred Hoiberg’s recruiting strategy at Iowa State, which included a lot of transfers. But Hoiberg recruited Georges Niang, Naz Mitrou-Long, Monte Morris and Matt Thomas out of high school. That worked out. They have a combined 6,095 points as Cyclones.
8. You never hear anyone from the SEC bragging they have the best basketball, do you?
9. I’m citing some stats here, but I get worn out by them. It seems it’s all the rage for sports information directors and sportswriters to come up with things like “John Doe is the first player to average 16.8 points, 5.4 assists, 2.2 three-pointers and 1.7 steals per game since So-and-So in 2008.”
Here’s one I’m waiting for: “So-and-So is the first college player to average 44.5 points, 6.2 assists and 5.6 rebounds since Pete Maravich in 1969-70.”
10. The five players on last season’s Associated Press first-team All-America squad were Malcolm Brogdon, Buddy Hield, Brice Johnson, Tyler Ulis and Denzel Valentine.
How good is the NBA? None of the five are averaging 10 points a game, and three are averaging four points or less. In fairness to Johnson, he has just begun playing after being shelved with a herniated disk.
All five are legitimate players.
11. Former Iowa center Adam Woodbury had 12 rebounds and 3 blocked shots Wednesday night for the NBA D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants in their 138-105 win over the Grand Rapids Drive. Another former Hawkeye, Jarrod Uthoff, had 20 points and 9 rebounds for the Mad Ants.
12. Northwestern. Wild, huh? Take another look.
13. UCLA, coached by Steve Alford, leads the nation in scoring with 91.8 points a game. Iowa scored just 55 points in the last game Alford coached at Iowa, a 74-55 Big Ten tournament quarterfinal loss to Purdue 10 years ago.
14. Yes, it’s been 10 years and you can still get cheap heat in Iowa by mentioning Alford. But let’s face it. Alford has a 27-3 team that is the most entertaining and maybe the most talented in college basketball. And if he doesn’t get the Bruins to the Final Four, I’d bet Los Angelenos will consider this a wasted season.
15. I’m not above chasing cheap heat.