Hawk Season, NCAA Tournament, NIT, Women's BB

The great run that the Hawks had in the Big Ten Tournament ended with a thud Sunday as Ohio State beat Iowa 81-64. <p>Veteran reporter Ron Maly's take on the Iowa loss to Ohio State, the 2001-2002 season, and more.........

Iowa was an underachieving, disappointing basketball team most of the season, and nothing changed on the final day of the Big Ten tournament.

The Ohio State game was one the Hawkeyes could have won. But, as happened so often in the regular season, they couldn't play defense, committed too many turnovers (19) and got outcoached.

So they lost, 81-64, to abruptly halt a dream some fans were having that they would-for the second consecutive year-sweep four consecutive games in the tournament and go into the NCAA tournament on a high.

A reporter or two tried hard to find excuses (they sometimes do that) for why the Hawkeyes lost. They asked Luke Recker if the team was tired after playing four games in four days. Recker wasn't buying it. He said, sure, he was tired, but so was Ohio State, which played three consecutive days.

Iowa's miserable performance against the Buckeyes meant there will be no NCAA. Just the NIT, a consolation tournament that most teams don't want to play in and most fans don't want to watch.

Recker said the Hawkeyes couldn't afford to have problems getting aroused for the NIT because "that's all we have left."

Pretty sad for a team that not only had Recker, but also a marvelous rebounder in Reggie Evans.

Pretty sad for a team that was expected to be a challenger for the conference's regular-season title.

Pretty sad for a team whose coach should be drawing up a game plan today for an NCAA opponent instead of LSU in the NIT.

Also pretty sad was the way Indiana's fans treated Recker in Iowa's 62-60 victory Saturday over the Hoosiers in the Big Ten tournament. Just as they did when Iowa played in Bloomington, Ind., earlier in the season, the fans booed Recker-a former Indiana player-every time he got the ball. So I joined lots of other people in being happy that Recker's last-second took Indiana out of the tournament, 62-60.

The display by Indiana's fans was classless, but no more classless than what fans in other places are demonstrating these days.

The Iowa State fans who booed Iowans Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison on Jan. 23 when Kansas won at Hilton Coliseum in Ames certainly showed no class.

And the Iowa football fans who booed their own quarterback-Kyle McCann-in the game against Michigan last season showed no class.

Unfortunately, that's what's happened to college athletics these days.

Speaking of Kansas, scratch that word "invincible'' from its basketball resume. Oklahoma took care of that with its victory over the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Conference tournament finale at Kansas City. The stunner came before what was pretty much a Kansas home crowd at Kemper Arena and again raised questions about whether Jayhawks Coach Roy Williams can win the big one.

Before Sunday, I was ready to name Kansas as my NCAA champion.

Now I've changed my mind. I hate to say it, but Duke again is my choice.

Memo to Larry Eustachy: Historically, they're pretty patient with the basketball coaches at Iowa State. Glen Anderson's records in his last eight years were 10-16, 9-16, 11-14, 13-12, 12-13, 14-12, 12-14 and 5-21 before they fired him after the 1970-71 season. Obviously, you're in no danger after your first less-than-.500 record.

But, if I were you, I wouldn't want to make a habit of losing more games than you win.

What a wonderful season for this state's major-college women's teams.

In a year when accomplishments by the men's Division I teams were nothing to speak of, the women's teams from Drake, Iowa State and Iowa have made the NCAA tournament field again.

If we didn't know it before, we know it now. The power is with the women.

Alive in Clive, not his real name, responded quickly after my column on Drake's men's basketball program, which hasn't had a better-than-.500 season since 1986-87.

"I think you must put a school like Drake in perspective,'' Alive in Clive says in his e-mail. "Tough learning standards, located in the heart of the city and only so much money to spend. A ‘name' experienced coach might help, as did Eldon Miller at UNI, but those chances don't come often.''

Miller, a one-time coach at Ohio State, had some good teams later in his career at UNI.

Good for Georgetown's men's team. Like Iowa, like Minnesota, like a lot of other teams, Georgetown received a bid to play in the NIT. Georgetown said thanks, but no thanks. Georgetown will stay home. Craig Esherick, who coaches the Hoyas, said he didn't want his players to miss classes just so they could play a road game in the NIT.

I'm sure there are a more than a few other coaches who should be sending their players to class and not to a meaningless NIT game.

The only other time a team turned down an NIT bid was in 1987, when Louisville said no a year after winning the NCAA title. I can't say for sure if Louisville's players were going to class in those days.


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