I was going to Italian boat captain this season and completely abandon ship, but that’s not what we do here. We finish the drill and go down in flames, unintelligible flames.
The Flyers took the ultimate punch to the chin, losing to their Overlords last Friday night in Atlantic City. The loss to the Muskies was the final cruel nail in UD’s coffin and now the Flyers return to their all too familiar comfort zone: the National Invitational Tournament.
Involvement in the NIT is a great test of a coach’s ability to act like a used car salesman (which is basically what a college basketball coach is when you get down to it). They have to convince their team that the next best thing, relatively speaking, is not only good enough, but worth winning and exerting maximum effort. That’s a hard sell. (“Listen, I know Daddy promised you a Jeep Cherokee, but here’s a “newsed” Chevy Corsica. It has a spoiler on the back, just like the car our gardener drives. Why are you crying? It has a spoiler!”)
In an odd way, losing early on in the NIT is a positive sign of a team’s resolve. An early exit indicates that the team was so disgusted with itself it simply chose to bow out prematurely, refusing to further associate itself with a group of lessers. Like Bartleby, the Scrivener, the best option is to choose not to do something you feel is beneath you – even if the reason for doing so is untreated clinical depression. Let’s digress.
Attempting to actually win the NIT serves as notice that you are not only content with your current lot, but you are resolved to climb to the top of the mediocrity mountain. Sometimes in life it’s better to act like you are too cool for the room. The NIT is one of those incidences. It’s best to participate with disillusionment.
As BR scribe Adam puts it:
I think the perfect way to do the NIT is to win the first two and then lose in the quarters. Kinda like banging a big girl. Yeah, you wanted an 8, but do the deed with the 2 and get out before people see you, then pretend you got a 6. If you make it to NYC, people see you because hardcore fans watch and SportsCenter actually covers the games. You don’t want that walk of shame. Get out and be back home before the sun rises.
Nevertheless, let’s give Iowa credit for credit’s worth, as they seem to be taking this shitshow about as serious as one possibly can:
As of 5:30 PM yesterday the Iowa ticket office said there were 9,300 tickets sold for tonight’s game against Dayton. That’s good news for the Hawks that face a team that was (3-7) on the road this year. Of Dayton’s 10 road games only two were played in front of crowds of 10,000 or more (St. Louis, Xavier). The average attendance for Dayton’s road games was 5,235. Six of those games were played in front of an announced attendance of 3,900 or less.
Overview: Like most of the country, I haven’t thought about Iowa basketball in a long time. Roy Marble, Luke Recker, Acie Earl, Jeff Horner, Dr. Tom Davis, Tom Arnold, Ashton Kutcher – that’s pretty much all I can regurgitate about the Hawkeyes without resorting to the Google.
The NIT isn’t necessarily a negative occasion for Fran McCaffery’s squad. Picked by some prognosticators to finish in the basement of the Big Ten, Iowa was able to turn in a more than respectable 8-10 conference mark (17-16 overall) and return to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
Although the Hawkeyes get lost in the Big Ten shuffle, the program is trending up, which is certainly a positive development after having survived the doldrums of the Steve Alford era and the inanity that was the Todd Lickliter regime. McCaffery has provided Iowa fans with at least some hope and encouragement, which is certainly something Dayton fans can relate to.
Meet and Greet: Matt Gatens? He is that dude. The senior guard is pale, has a sunken chest, closely cropped hair – basically the face of America’s heartland/serial killers. Gatens has started every game since arriving in Iowa City four long years ago. A local boy, he was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media, third-team by the coaches. This is probably going to come as a pretty big shock to most of you, but Matty Gatens can shoot the ball a lil’ bit. Currently averaging around 15 points per game, he’s second on Iowa’s all-time three-pointers made list and is deadly accurate from the foul-line.
Speaking of Roy Marble, his kid, Roy Marble Jr., elected to follow the old man’s footsteps and attend the University of Iowa. The sophomore wing is the team’s second leading scorer (11.0 ppg) and the Hawkeyes’ most “athletic” player. Marble Jr. does a little bit of everything – can score, rebound, pass, and defend. Essentially plays the role that Chris Johnson theoretically plays for Dayton.
Freshman big man Aaron White is a load in the middle. Named to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team, White averages just over ten points a contest and leads Iowa in rebounding (5.4 rpg). White and Kavanaugh have battled before, in David Duke’s dreams.
Prediction: We kinda want this season to end, right?
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.