Hawks Motivated By Drake Hype

Iowa's Jared Reiner says his team was motivated to win its basketball game against Drake "because we kept hearing the media talk about how Drake was the best team in Iowa."

All right, so it was far from being a work of art.

All right, so neither team could shoot.

All right, so it was downright sloppy at times.

All right, so I was wrong.

Yes, in my column in the November issue of The Local Sports Connection, I wrote: "On Nov. 26 at the Knapp Center, Drake will end its 23-game losing streak to Iowa. Hey, folks, for the good of basketball in our state, this needs to happen. And, if doesn't happen this year, it may never happen. Drake will have its best season in Kurt Kanaskie's coaching tenure, and Kanaskie's teams always come out of the gate fast."

When I wrote that, I obviously overestimated Drake and underestimated Iowa.

The Bulldogs haven't come out of the gate quite as quickly as I figured, and Iowa showed in this 50-49 victory that it has some unexpected toughness in what is supposed to be a rebuilding season.

And the Hawkeyes showed that were tired of listening to people talk about how good Drake was supposed to be.

"We kept hearing the media talk about how Drake was the best team in Iowa," center Jared Reiner said. "That hurt us, and it provided a lot of motivation for us.

"It's not that the Drake team was doing it, but other people saying how much better they were than us. This game was about proving ourselves. There's a long way to go, but the (victory) felt good."

Reiner, a 6-11, 255-pound junior center who had been an underachiever in his first two seasons, drilled two free throws with 52 seconds remaining to give the Hawkeyes the victory.

"I just stood at the line and thought, ‘I've got to have these,'" Reiner said. "It all comes down to this'"

Drake lost its final chance to beat Iowa since 1978 when Lonnie Randolph, for some reason, dribbled into the corner in the final seconds and was forced into taking a low-percentage shot. Randolph should have driven straight for the basket and taken a shot or dished the ball off to one of his teammates.

As a result, Iowa continued a winning streak that has now reached 24 games against the Bulldogs. And, with next season's Iowa-Drake game in Iowa City, there's no end in sight.

It's somewhat the same as the choke-hold Iowa had on its football series with Iowa State. Under Coach Hayden Fry, the Hawkeyes won 15 straight games from the Cyclones between 1983 and 1997, and frankly some people were wondering if the series was still worthwhile for Iowa State.

But, in 1998, Coach Dan McCarney and his Cyclones produced a 27-9 victory, and now they've won five straight.

Some folks now think that, for the good of the series, it's time for Iowa to win again.

The same for Drake in its basketball series with the Hawkeyes. But Iowa wouldn't let it happen Tuesday night. p>At least the Knapp Center had an overflow crowd of 7,146 for the game. It was good to see the place full.

Iowa Coach Steve Alford has an 11-0 record against Drake as a coach at Southwest Missouri State and Iowa.

Drake Coach Kurt Kanaskie is 0-7 against the Hawkeyes and 52-227 with the Bulldogs overall. Going into the season, this was expected to be Kanaskie's best team at the school.

But the Bulldogs aren't strong enough to be able to afford a scoreless night by center Greg Danielson, a 2-for-7 shooting performance by Randolph , a 3-for-12 three-point field goal game by Luke McDonald and 35.3 percent shooting.

Those were the numbers against Iowa. But Alford called Drake an "outstanding team, and I told Kurt Kanaskie that. I know he's upset (that the Bulldogs lost). It's not fun to lose these in-state games. But I have great respect for him. He does it the right way, with high integrity."

Iowa, coming off a disappointing 19-16 season, figures to have a difficult time escaping the second division of the Big Ten standings. But so far, at least, the Hawkeyes have shown some fight. Reiner and guard Chauncey Leslie (20 points against Drake) are solid players, and freshman forward Greg Brunner of Charles City (12 points and 5 rebounds) is a keeper.

However, forward Glen Worley continues to be a mystery. With all the talent that 6-7 junior seems to have, it's a crime that he can't do more than score one field goal in five tries and grab two rebounds against Drake.

Big things are eventually expected from freshman guard Jeff Horner, but he was overmatched in his first road game, making only one of nine shots. He'll get better.

Ron Maly
Vol. 2, No. 105
Nov. 27, 2002
[Ron Maly's e-mail address is malyr@juno.com ]


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