Diamonds and Ice

Hawkeye coach supports UNI

Got University of Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm to give his feelings on the possibility of Northern Iowa losing its baseball program after this season. The school has said it will drop the sport due to financial concerns if $1.2 million is not raised by next week.

According to just over $250,000 has been pledged thus far. The site also has e-mail addresses of governor Chet Culver for others to complain about the decision.

Coach Dahm has known UNI head coach Rick Heller for quite a while, considering Dahm used to be head coach at Missouri Valley Conference rival Creighton.

“I’m very disappointed,” Dahm said. “Rick Heller is a good friend of mine. We’ve heard the rumors for years that Northern Iowa was going to drop baseball. There are no positives that come out of this – for college baseball or for baseball in the state of Iowa.

“You look at the number of kids we have from the state of Iowa. The opportunities to play Division I baseball in this state have been cut in half. There are a lot of talented kids in this state, so I’m very disappointed.”

Dahm said he had recently talked with Heller about the situation. Iowa and Northern Iowa are scheduled to play each other twice in April, including the Corridor Classic at Cedar Rapids’ Memorial Stadium.

“I know Rick is still working hard. I actually talked to him (last Thursday),” Dahm said. “He’s trying to find a way to get this done. I know he’s made some progress, and I hope they find a way to keep baseball there. Those players deserve it. Rick Heller and the coaching staff deserves it. The alumni deserve it. They’ve played baseball there for so many years.”

Dahm said he was disappointed at the timing of the announcement, coming on the heels of UNI’s first games of the season in early March.

“I wish they’d have given them a little more time to raise the money,” he said. “It has kind of been thrown on (Heller’s) back right now in a not very realistic time frame. Let him know. Don’t make it public, let him know he’s got to go out and do this. Unfortunately, they put him in a very tough spot. They put a lot of pressure on him.

“He’s trying to make this season special for his players, and yet he’s got so many (other) worries, trying to raise $1.2 million. That’s tough. And it’s probably not fair to put him in that spot.”

Dahm complimented Heller as a terrific coach.

“I tell you what, he’s done more with less,” Dahm said. “What he does at Northern Iowa, not being fully funded, the budget is very small, they have to raise a lot of money. Rick Heller is just a tremendous, tremendous baseball coach. And, again, those players do an incredible job over there. I hope they all find a way to keep it.”


Future Hawkeye May has quick state tourney exit
March 11, 2009, 5:14 am
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Last year, Eric May made a 40-footer at the buzzer to give Dubuque Wahlert a win over Harlan in the Class 3A state championship game. This year, well, it didn’t go quite as well.

May, the University of Iowa signee, and Wahlert suffered through a 31.4-percent shooting effort from the field in a 56-41 loss to Norwalk in a 3A quarterfinal Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

May made just 6 of 20 shots from the field, including a 1-of-11 performance from 3-point land. Not the way the 6-foot-5 senior wanted his prep career to end.

“It wasn’t going tonight,” May said. “I felt like there were a lot (of shots) that rimmed out. I guess it just wasn’t there. I didn’t get to the hole enough, I didn’t get good enough shots to get into a rhythm quickly enough. I think that must have been the problem.”

Wahlert ended its season 18-7. This was not the same caliber Golden Eagle team as last season, so just getting to state was a good accomplishment.

“It was exciting, it was fun,” May said. “This is the worst way it could end. But you know at least we got here. We came together to get here. I love all these guys. We had a great time.”

Now it’s time for May to prepare for Iowa. He said it’ll be difficult to getting ready for the 2009-2010 season, but he’s looking forward to it.

“A lot of work. A lot of work this summer,” he said. “Every day it’s going to be a battle. Lifting weight, everything. It’s going to be a battle.”

Despite concentrating on his season, May, as expected, played close attention to this Iowa team. It’s a Hawkeye bunch that has perservered through youth and injuries.

“They’re playing like this with potentially three starters out,” May said. “They’re in every game. With maturity, with everybody getting a year older, they’re playing a lot of (underclassmen) … I can’t wait to get there next year.”


Hawkeye football/hoops recruits playing in C.R. Monday

Fans of Iowa football and men’s basketball in Cedar Rapids will get a glimpse of the future tonight, as basketball recruit Eric May and football recruits Jordan Cotton and Drew Clark play in a Class 3A boys’ basketball substate final double-header tonight at the U.S. Cellular Center.

Dubuque Wahlert (17-6) plays Mount Vernon (16-7) in the first game at 6:30. May, a 6-foot-4 forward, averages 24.3 points per game for the Golden Eagles, who won last year’s 3A title on a 40-foot shot at the buzzer from May.  He’s a good athlete, with strength, jumping ability and some shooting range. 

Mount Pleasant (19-4) plays Marion (19-4) in the other substate final at The Cell. That’ll give fans a chance to see Cotton and Clark, albeit on the basketball floor and not the gridiron.

Cotton is a 6-foot-1 senior guard for the Panthers who averages 14.4 points per game, second on the team. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and is 24 of 79 from 3-point range. He’s also a 71-percent free-throw shooter.

Cotton, son of former Hawkeye running back Marshall Cotton, was ranked a three-star (out of five) recruit as a wide receiver. He played running back for Mount Pleasant. Clark is an offensive line recruit for the Hawkeyes from Marion who averages 3.8 points per game.

Here’s football video of Mr. Cotton and hoops video of Mr. May:



Hawkeyes vs. Florida vs. Kansas

So who do you like in that basketball recruiting battle?

Ran across a photo of Iowa men’s basketball coach Todd Lickliter discussing something with Kansas Coach Bill Self and Florida’s Billy Donovan last Friday night in Marshalltown. Bet it was Harrison Barnes.

The Ames junior star was in M-town to help his top-ranked Little Cyclones beat Marshalltown in a sold-out Roundhouse. That’s the name of Marshalltown’s gym, which is humongous, high school-wise, by the way.

My guess is the conversation went something like this:

Lickliter: “I’ll tell you what, guys. I promise not to recruit any guys out of Florida or Kansas in the next 10 years, if you lay off this Barnes kid. How many national titles do you need, anyway?”

Donovan is obviously dumb-founded (look at the photo). Self is simply astonished (again, look at the photo).


UNI best of mediocre lot?

Northern Iowa’s men’s basketball team winning a school-record 11 games in a row is a tremendous story. How many teams ever win 11 games in a row, let alone conference games? The Panthers look to have the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship under wraps.

But you can’t help wondering how much of all this is competition driven? Or lack of competition driven?

In the latest Collegiate Basketball News RPI (Rating Percentage Index), released Monday, Northern Iowa was 73rd, behind such luminaries as Buffalo, Tulsa, Northeastern and Northwestern.  Siena, which UNI (16-6) plays in the upcoming ESPN Bracket Busters, had an RPI of 20.

The Missouri Valley Conference ranked ninth among the 31 leagues, significantly down from its “heyday” of a couple years back. Illinois State actually was the MVC’s top RPI team at 59, and Evansville also ranked ahead of UNI at 70. Creighton was right behind the Panthers at 74.

For further comparison, Iowa came into the week at 89, Drake was 126 and Iowa State 134. Remember that Iowa clubbed UNI this season and Iowa State beat the Panthers as well.

What’s my point with all this? Not really sure.

What Northern Iowa has done this season to this point is terrific, but I think it may need to be put into a little perspective. The Missouri Valley Conference simply isn’t very good. 

Here’s a link to the latest RPI rankings: