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Hawk Talk

No NIT champ

Iowa basketball season came to an end last week at Madison Square Garden with a 74-54 loss to the Baylor Bears.
The Hawks picked a bad time to go cold in their shooting as they hit only 26 percent for the game and missed at least 12 point-blank baskets.
That’s their lowest shooting percentage this season.
I’ve been doing an informal pool asking my friends if they would rather have Iowa make a deep run in the NIT or lose in the first or second round of the NCAA tournament.
Most of them agree with me that it’s fun to see the Hawks win and keep playing, like they did in New York.
Before the Thursday night game, there were only six college basketball teams playing and the Hawkeyes were one of them.
I’m not sure if it was Baylor’s length or Iowa was quick shooting, but the Hawks took 21 more shots then the Bears and made eight fewer field goals.
Baylor also had nine steals, seven blocked shots and outscored the Hawkeyes 36-18 in the paint.
It also didn’t help when two starters, Adam Woodbury and Melsahn Basabe, combined for 3 points.
Mike Gesell came off the bench to lead the Hawks with 13. It will be nice to get him healed up in the off-season.
I’d like to see Mike play in Prime Time basketball this summer, but would rather have him going into fall 100 percent healthy.
Iowa finished the season with 25 wins, which is tied for second most wins in school history.
Devyn Marble’s dad Roy was on the team that won 30 games, the most wins ever for the Hawkeyes, in 1987.
The Hawkeyes got into the finals of the NIT by knocking off a good Maryland team 71-60 last Tuesday in New York.
Maryland, which will be in the Big Ten in two years, finished with 25 wins including a 2-point win over Duke at home.
Iowa had a great start, played solid defense, hit some big shots and outscored Maryland 27-2 on points scored off turnovers.
Devyn Marble scored 12 points in the first half and finished with 21. He also led the Hawks with nine rebounds and he is playing the best basketball of his career.
How about Eric May, the only senior on the team, scoring 12 including a big 3-pointer with one minute left in the game? Eric also had five assists and no turnovers.
It’s so great to see Eric finish strong.
When Eric was a freshman, Iowa finished 10-22. He is their best defender, is shooting 46 percent from the field this year, 41 percent from 3-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line.
“He is one of the greatest captains I’ve ever been around,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery.
Nine Hawkeyes scored and Iowa had a 15-13 advantage on bench points.
Zach McCabe, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons combined for 13 points, six assists and no turnovers.
All three hit big shots.

Spring football

A look at the offensive line

It’s time to talk about spring football.
For the next couple of weeks I’ll look at the offense, defense, special teams and who is going to be the starting quarterback for Iowa next year?
I always like to start with the offensive line.
I have said this before, but if Brandon Scherff and Andrew Donnal don’t get hurt and lost for the season in a matter of three plays against Penn State, I think the Hawkeyes would have had a winning record.
Iowa has seven players that started last fall, plus sophomore Eric Simmons (6-2, 300), a junior college transfer who red-shirted last year and red-shirt freshman Ryan Ward (6-5, 290).
Reece Morgan, who now coaches defensive line but was Iowa’s offensive line coach for nine years, told me Eric could be a three-year starter before the opening kickoff next fall.
Eric is listed as a backup center or guard.
Ryan was named an Army All-American when he was a senior at New Lenox, Ill.. He is listed as backup left tackle.
Kirk Ferentz said at the first spring press conference that junior Brandon Scherff (6-5, 310) is ready to go at left tackle and should be an All-Big Ten candidate.
Right tackle has senior Brett Van Sloten (6-7, 292), who started every game last year.
Sophomore Austin Blyth (6-3, 300) has moved over to the starting center position. Austin was named freshman All-American after starting nine games last fall.
Senior Conor Boffeli (6-5, 290) is the starting left guard. He started a couple of games last year and is a solid run blocker.
Junior Andrew Donnal (6-7, 305) is coming back from a knee injury and is listed as the top right guard.
Backups include sophomore Jordan Walsh, (6-4, 290) who also started a game last year at guard, and Ryan Ward, who is a backup tackle. Also senior Drew Clark (6-4, 288) and Mitch Keppy (6-5, 295).
Mitch’s dad Myron was a two-year letter winner for the Hawkeyes in 1986-1987.
Red-shirt freshman Cole Croston (6-5, 250) is the son of Dave Croston and is second team right tackle on the depth chart.
Dave, who played for the Hawkeyes from 1983-1986, was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1986.
Kirk Ferentz once said that it’s nice to have at least 10 lineman ready to play for the season.
Iowa and offensive line coach Brian Ferentz should have some good depth going into the season.