Sunday, March 29, 2009

Black Friday for Iowa Basketball

Friday, March 27th, will be remembered as a vital day in the Todd Lickliter era. Four players, including Iowa's best, are transferring. Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, The President David Palmer and Jermain Davis are taking their games elsewhere. This is a crushing blow not only to the actual team, but also to the enthusiasm and confidence of the program.

Coach Lick obviously gets a grace period due to the lack of talent he inherited in year one. However, patience is running thin throughout the program. The last three seasons, the Hawks of lost their top scorers to transfer (Tyler Smith to Tennessee, Tony Freeman to Southern Illinois, and Jake Kelly to, presumably, Indiana State).

Why is this happening? Tyler Smith and Jake Kelly had deaths in the family, but there could be other reasons. Tony Freeman didn't 'fit' with Lick's system. Perhaps Freeman is solely the exception. but there certainly could be inside issues dealing with the coaching staff that is causing this.

Regardless, Iowa lost four players in a single day. Two of them starters. Three of four of them point guards. This leaves the Hawks with one point guard on the team: Little Lick. This collective loss of point guards is almost more damaging then Kelly leaving by himself. Lickliter's system is deemed to be complicated. It's understood that it takes players, especially point guards, a couple of years to pick it up and have it flow naturally. Peterson improved greatly from his freshman season, Kelly took over games after a move to point guard, and Davis had spurts of being effective when he was healthy (see Iowa State).

This is catastrophic for next years team. Bawinkel doesn't have great handles, Gatens can't be asked to do everything (even if he is Superman), and Little Lick isn't the answer. So who is going to handle the ball next season? Maybe Anthony Tucker. Iowa is heavily recruiting JUCO point guard Malcolm Armstead. Kaylon Williams, a Cedar Rapids native who played his freshmen season at the University of Evansville, is transferring to be "closer to home." He averaged 6.3 points and 4.9 assists in 27 games. Even if he does come to the Hawks, he'll probably have to sit out a year due to transfer without a hardship.

I don't know what the future holds for the Hawkeyes. Iowa recently signed Devon Archie, an explosive JUCO forward, but that doesn't solve the absence of a point guard. It's a dark time for Iowa basketball right now. If all the players stay, Iowa is looking at a probable NIT appearance and perhaps an NCAA tourney bid. Now that they're gone, Iowa could very well be the worst team in the Big 10.

It's sad. It's depressing. Especially with the Madness going on right now. I want to be excited about Iowa basketball again. In my three years of college, we haven't even sniffed the tourney. My older friends talk about how amazing Carver was in Horner and Brunner's senior season. I want that. I want to unrealistically send the Hawks far in my bracket. I want them to be relevant again.

I want to be upbeat about the program. And I can't be right now.

My feelings on Jake Kelly leaving

My feelings on Jeff Peterson leaving

My feelings on Jermain Davis leaving

My feelings on The President leaving.

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