Sunday, April 24, 2005

This series shouldn't interesting

With Iowa's 4-0 shutout of ISU in softball, Iowa won the inaugural Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series over ISU 13-8.

A Cyclone win wouldn't have changed the outcome, as Iowa had built a commanding lead in the fall.

Given the budgets of the two schools, and ISU's struggles in "Olympic" sports, Iowa should win this 4 years out of five. An ISU should be an embarrassment in Iowa City.

Why it's stacked against ISU:

-A win in football is worth 3 points, while all other sports are worth 2. As long as Iowa is a Top-10 program in football and softball, that's 5 points right there. It's half over at that point.

-Since the basketball game is played in December, as long as Alford is coaching in IC, they win 3 of 4.

-Women's swimming in Ames is essentially an intramural team. 2 more points for Iowa.

-Despite the good play in women's basketball for ISU, the series will be a 50/50 proposition for the near future, with the advantage going to the home team. Again, if the game had been played in February this year, ISU would have won. Unfortunately, they play the game in December.

-Finally, the clincher: 2 bonus points for academics that each school could earn. This is the biggest gift to IC, and will clinch their wins for years to come. With the athletic graduation rate in IC 7 points above the national average, it's a lock for them for the near future. With ISU 3 points below the average, with high turnover in basketball as of late counting against it, that's another 2 points ISU will somehow have to pick up elsewhere, which is tough.

So despite an easy 4 points from two women's gymnastics duals each year, ISU has far too much to overcome to win the series often. The would require 3 wins in the 4 high profile sports- Football, Wrestling and Men's and Women's Basketball- to have a shot. That event is so rare it's not even worth discussing.

The difference is money. Being good in Olympic sports requires extra cash. Having enough academic types to ride the butts of football and basketball players, making sure they are getting to class, checking on their progress to graduation, takes cash. Buckets of it. Cash that a program like ISU, always on the verge of cutting sports and deferring capital projects, just doesn't have.

Add a permanent spot in the trophy case in Iowa City for this one. The field is sloped their way.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Spring Game highs and lows

The CSJ staff was unable to attend the Spring Game in person, and had to steal moments on the radio. Mac makes a good color man, and isn't afraid to tell it like it is. When a reciever was held after beating his man, Mac credited the DB with holding "every way he knew how". Mac was, of course, his sunny-side-up norm, and plays were ususally more a credit to a guy making a play, rather than a someone screwing up. Knowing the playbook and defensive schemes gives a color man a unique perspective.

First, the good news, according to the press reports:

Meyer is a solid #1, and looked great. Not being pressured much helps.

Flynn's move to WR was brilliant. Great athlete with super hands, Flynn looks to be a go-to reciever for the fall. He is exhibit A of Mac's style of finding a way to put the best athletes on the field.

General athleticism of the fist team appears solid.

Now the bad. Fortunately, it's short.

The FG game still stinks. 4 of 5 attempts were missed. Ouch. 17 kickers on the team at the moment, and nobody can push it through. I shudder to think how many games that will cost ISU come fall.

Some posters on the message boards are questioning the OL, and why the first team offense couldn't crush the second team D. I will always contend that nothing can be spun more than a Spring Game. Some see inept OL play for the first team, some see depth in the second team D. It's the classic half-empty, half-full situation. Neither team ran much of the playbook, and each may have tried to work on weaknesses rather than highlight stregnths.

Mac is comfotable in his job, and doesn't feel the need to put on a good show for the few thousand that care enough to show up. Unlike the staff at Nebraska, who opened it up to prove to the massive crowd they do know what they are doing. That's nice, but they will need to win a few (or a lot) to keep the Husker fans content.

Again, the empty/full test: Great offense or bad defense? Superior talent or big drop off? Too bad their early schedule this fall, except for a game aginst Pitt, won't test them much. Their first 5 games are in Lincoln, and after roadies to Waco and Columbia, they could be 7-0 when the Sooners come calling.

BTW- It's impressive to see 68K show up in Lincoln for their Spring Game. Nice devotion. I would have to check my math, but I think 68K is the exact number of fans who went to see Nebraska basketball last season. Total.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Now that's a rivalry

Note: This is only somewhat off-topic. Bear with me.

If you watch SportsCenter, you saw the tape: A Champions League match between cross-town rivals AC and Inter Milan which featured dozens of lit flareserupted in a near riot being tossed onto the pitch, one of which struck a player in the shoulder.

Dozens of lit flares?

I can see one or two getting in taped to some guy's leg, but dozens require a group action. I've been to European soccer matches, and American fans have no idea the level of security that is involved. Most noticeably, each section of stands is fenced off from every other section. You can't just wander about. If your seats are in section 14, you go in and out the gate market for 14. That's it. Opposing fans have separate seating, isolated from the home fans, and their entrance will be a block away from any of the home fans entrances, just to avoid conflict. Cops in riot gear are everywhere. It's serious stuff.

Can you imagine the reaction if lit flares came out of the stands during the iowa-ISU game? It would be a full-blown riot. Anyone with more than 2 beers in their system would be going after anyone in the opposite colors. It would be madness, and great television. iowa-ISU would immediately vault up the rivalry charts and be compared to Ohio State-Michigan, OU-Texas and Florida-Tennessee. Talking heads would wring their hands, then off camera say "Wow! What passion". We would be Big Time Must See TV. The game would be an ABC national game for 5 years, guarrenteed.

Not that I'm condoning it. It's a truly stupid act, and somebody could have been seriously hurt. The iowa-ISU game would probably be wiped off the schedule indefinately, and whoever's fans lit it up would be branded as hooligans indefinately. Having ten thousand drunk fans partying the parking lot- like the game in Ames in 2003- looks tame in comparison.

We've got nothing on soccer. Nothing. It's best that way, too.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ranom thoughts

In no particular order:

UNC's best defense in the NC game was their zone. For whatever reason, it discombobulated Illinois' offensive flow, and left them with lousy 3 point shots as their only choice. They didn't make enough of them. When UNC played man, they got eaten up by UI's speed. When UNC played D, they were scary good. When they didn't, they were just another team. It must be nice to be able to turn it on and off like that.

With Roy Williams winning the title he never could at KU, and KU's loss in the first round of the NCAA's to #14 Bucknell, this was officially the Worst Tourney Ever in the eyes of Jayhawk fans. What a shame. 3 McDonald's AA's and they go oh-fer: No B12 title, no tourney title, first round loss in the NCAA. Bill Self will need to win one of the 3 next year, or his seat will start getting very, very warm.

Billy Packer is the master of the obvious. It took him 35 minutes of clock to notice that the officials were ignoring Illinois' moving screens. I saw it in the first 3 minutes. I know the producer is screaming in your year, but get your nose out of your notes. It's JV.

How close were the ISU women this year? They were tied late at Baylor, but lost. They win that game, they get every tiebreaker, and win the Big 12 title. Oh- and Baylor won the B12 tourney, and now is in the NCAA title game. Slouches.

All reports are that Todd Blythe is ahead of schedule on his repaired knee, and that Austin Flynn is now a starter at WR. Flynn could become the biggest position change since Billups move from RB to DB. Get the best athletes on the field.

I just can't dig into spring practice reports the way some fans do. Really, do we need to know how the #3 TE is progressing? That's why I could never be a legit sportwriter. Some eitor would want me to write about a teams prospects at middle outside linebacker in nickel packages. Ugh.