How can a season so promising turn into a nightmare of losses? How can two pre-season All Americans not only play so poorly but disrupt the 'team' concept? How can Steve Alford, 'wonder boy' coach look so ineffective in directing his troops? These questions were being asked by Iowa fans on Saturday night as lowly Northwestern never trailed in the game and led by as many as twenty points.
Many Iowa fans were among the 7,000 in attendance at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Hawks were so bad that hopefully the loyal fans were able to find a clean bathroom where they could puke their dinner. Certainly that would have been about the only successful throw up by anyone in Iowa garb.
Luke Recker and Reggie Evans, Iowa's terrific twosome played like terrible twins as they were a combined 5 out of 18 from the field, totalling twenty-two points. They were a combined 1 for nine in the first half as Iowa trailed at intermission, 34-20. No Shaina, that is not a misprint. Iowa's vaunted offense got TWENTY points in the first half. Would the Twenty points in twenty minutes make them comparable to Fielding Yost's 'Point a Minute' Michigan football team? Hardly!
Many of the beautiful townhouses on Chicago's near north side don't have as many bricks in them as the Hawks threw up on Saturday night. Chauncey Leslie was 0 for 7 from the field. However futile Leslie's shooting looked, Reggie Evans looked like a bricklayer supreme. Reggie punched his union time card with shooting that would make Shaq look like Larry Bird.
A good basketball team doesn't always have a good shooting night and must rely on their defense. However, the Hawks looked like they were playing in Chicago's famed stockyards as their 'matador' defense led to many easy baskets. Not exactly a bullfight, but a lot of 'bull' as Northwestern had more back doors than any of Al Capone's Chicago speakeasys.
The lone bright spot for Iowa was the play of Ryan Hogan. He was 4 for 6 from the field and perfect from the charity stripe. In addition, he actually attempted to play defense. "We're definitely overrated," said Iowa coach Steve Alford. "All I can tell you is, Ryan Hogan (10 points) will be in the lineup come Tuesday night. What happens the next two days will determine the other four spots.
Winston Blake led Northwestern with 16 points while Jitim Young added 13. Northwestern played hard and deserved the win.
Just when I thought I couldn't feel worse, my Wisconsin buddy, John Cavanaugh, called me after the game to add that Iowa doesn't have to worry about losing Alford to Indiana anymore because as he said "They wouldn't want him!"
However, he wasn't the only John to weigh in on the subject of Iowa basketball as my Dark Friend, The Shadow, also called with another observation. "I spotted famed lawyer Johnny Cochrane after the game. We went to a saloon where Johnny said "If they can't find the twine; let them ride the pine!"
Once again Marcia, this case is closed!