Iowa Hoops Grab Bag

We know, we know; football season is right around the corner. The pigskin will get its share of ink around HawkeyeNation.com and Hawkeye Nation magazine over the course of the next several months, beginning on July 31st at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. But today, we offer up an Iowa basketball grab bag, including some recruiting prospects that Iowa has their eyes on, and more...

There was an article in yesterday's Iowa City Press Citizen that was a must read for any Iowa basketball fan. Or at least, that's my opinion.

It was a bit revealing of both the past, present, and perhaps the future.

Senior center Seth Gorney was columnist Pat Harty's interview subject in the story, and it can be read HERE

Gorney provided some comments on being shocked when Steve Alford told the team that he was leaving to New Mexico, because just two weeks prior to Alford's announcement, he had told Gorney and the team that the New Mexico talk was just that, and that he wasn't leaving Iowa.

Of course, Alford's cell phone records would later reveal numbers from New Mexico as far back as January, then several contacts with New Mexico numbers in February. But that's old hat, and we don't need to go back down those roads.

The things I liked about the article were Gorney's comments regarding how excited he is about Todd Lickliter's style and approach to basketball. Gorney said the following:

"His (Lickliter's) philosophy is a team effort. I'm sure a lot of coaches preach that but they don't back that up. But he preaches team effort. Everything we do we do for the team. There is no individual anything. It's just a lot better system than what I've had, I think personally."

That's a mouthful, in my opinion. It certainly isn't a compliment to the former staff, and it's a big compliment to the current staff.

Then this quote really jumped out at me, as Gorney was talking about the low expectations for last year's team and what will sure to be the same for this coming season:

"I think if we come together and play as a team like coach wants us to, I mean look at what Butler did."

The Iowa players are well aware of Butler's 2007 run to the Sweet 16 under Lickliter, who won the National Coach of the Year honors. I think that needs to be brought up a few more times, because some folks have forgotten about that. They also gave Florida their stiffest challenge of any team in the tournament, and that includes Ohio State, a team that had two top-four draft choices in last months NBA draft, and three first rounders.

No, that doesn't mean that he will be able to duplicate that success at Iowa, but he has more resources now than he has ever had.

Still, patience needs to be a word that Iowa fans practice as it comes to the beginning of the Lickliter era. Eight to nine new faces will join the team over the next 18 months, and that does not include this year's freshman crop of Jeff Petersen, Jaryd Cole and Jake Kelly.

On Wednesday, I interviewed Van Coleman of Hoopmasters.com and cstv.com on my radio show on 1460 KXNO and asked him about some targets that Iowa might be looking at for this year.

Here is a list of names that Van said Iowa is involved with. To learn more about them, click on their names:

Josh Crittle
Colton Iverson
James Watson
Michael Dunigan
Frank Ben-Eze
Festus Ezeli (Yuba Community College of California, 6-11 center)
Andre Clark
Tyler Zeller

Now, Zeller continues to list Iowa in his ‘Top 9' and Coach Lickliter does have a solid connection and relationship with the family, but Zeller is going to be able to name his school, and he has been offered by a veritable who's who of college basketball.

Van also told me that Iowa is interested in these in state players:
Harrison Barnes (2010)
Brennan Cougill (2009)
A.J. Derby (2010, Iowa City High)

There are going to be some interesting in-state battles shaping up between Iowa and Iowa State over the next several years, with many of them coming down the pike in two to three years.

Iowa will be playing in the South Padre Invitational, and they will face the Bradley Braves on November 23rd. Bradley advanced to the Sweet 16 two years ago, and they return one of the nation's dangerous three-point shooters in Jeremy Croch along with Danny Ruffin at point guard. Coach Jim Les proved last year that he is a solid coach, as he totally changed the style of play that he prefers in order to best utilize the talent he had on hand. Bradley beat Iowa State in Des Moines last December, and the Hawkeyes have not faced the Braves since the 1976-1977 season. Iowa will play either Vanderbilt or Utah State on November 24th, in addition to two yet to be named opponents prior to the trip to South Padre.

Kevin Stallings is the coach at Vanderbilt, and he was one of the candidates that Iowa Athletic Director apparently had his eye on during the April coaching search. Barta has said on several occasions that Lickliter is the only coach who received an offer for the Iowa position. Vanderbilt advanced to the Sweet 16 last season, and they return three starters from that squad.


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