Talk about overcoming adversity. The Iowa Hawkeyes did just that in last week's 73-69 overtime win against Wisconsin.
First you have the Hawks' best big man (maybe) Cyrus Tate sitting out his second straight game with a badly sprained ankle. Then you have your starting point guard, Jeff Peterson, playing with a broken bone in his left hand. Jake Kelly, who starts at off guard, has a dislocated finger in both hands and to top it off Anthony Tucker, who led the team in scoring early on, is declared academically ineligible before the game.
So if you said Iowa was shorthanded, you would really mean it in more ways than one.
Oh yeah, at the end of regulation with Iowa leading by three with five seconds left, Jordan Taylor, a freshman guard for Wisconsin, hits a 3-pointer from 30 feet out to send the game into overtime.
That was Jordan’s first three of the year… he was 0-11 before that shot.
None of the mattered and Iowa broke their three-game losing streak.
It reminded me of a line from, the movie “Miracle on 34th Street” when Susan (played by nine year old Natalie Wood) said, “Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not too.”
My niece Kym found the quote for me and I think that sums up the Hawkeyes this season.
I haven’t given up hope and neither has David Palmer. For the second game in a row he played lights out, leading Iowa with 21 points and seven rebounds playing a career-high 33 minutes.
David has now played in more minutes in the last two games then he has in the year-and-a-half he’s been here.
“When David came here he tried to do a lot of different things,” said Iowa coach Todd Lickliter, who also hasn’t given up hope. “We tried to have him concentrate on the things he does well; like score, rebound and play defense. When he started to do that, he has become a player that we can count on.”
You can see with each game how much more comfortable David is becoming.
I thought he did a great job of containing Marcus Landry, who is one of Wisconsin’s best inside players.
Marcus scored 13 points and eight boards but he hit only 6-13 from the floor while playing 38 minutes.
“It feels good,” said David on his success in the last two games. “You have to give the credit to my teammates for looking for me and my coaches for trusting me… I’m just thankful.
With David playing well down low, it opened up the outside for Jeff Peterson, Jake Kelly and Matt Gatens to go to work.
Jeff knocked down 16 points with seven assists, Jake 12 points and three assists while Matt hit 9-12 from the free-throw line scoring 14.
I can’t forget Devan Bawinkel, who only hit one 3-pointer but it was huge in OT or Aaron Fuller whose big blocked shot late in the second half caused Bo Ryan, Wisconsin’s coach, to get a technical.
I know it’s only one win but it sure felt good when the buzzer sounded.
Well, that good feeling sure came to an end three days later when the Hawkeyes blew a 13-point lead with less than six minutes left at Penn State Saturday and lost 63-59.
The only good thing I can take out of the loss is the great feeling I still have when the Nittany Lions came to Kinnick last fall and were upset by Iowa 24-23 in football.
Penn State was undefeated, the Hawks had four losses and Daniel Murray’s field goal with six seconds left sealed the victory.
Then Penn State goes to the Rose Bowl and gets smoked by USC (University of Southern California) while Iowa goes to the Outback bowl and stomps USC (University of South Carolina).
Maybe Iowa’s loss in basketball is the way things balance out in the universe and another lesson is learned by this young Iowa basketball team.
The bad news is, of course, the loss, but the good news is everyone that played last Saturday will be back including the four players (Matt Gatens, Aaron Fuller, Jermain Davis and Devan Bawinkle) who played at State College for the first time.
Throw in David Palmer, who didn’t play much in the last year-and-a-half until the last three games.
The Hawkeyes are the sixth youngest team in America and it showed in the heartbreaking loss.
Sometimes lessons are learned the hard way. Iowa won the rebound battle 28-27, hit 15-16 from the foul line plus Jake Kelly scores 19 and Aaron Fuller has a career-high 16 points but the Hawks dropped to 12-8, 2-5 in the conference.
At least I still have the memory and tape of that cool fall afternoon in Kinnick on November 8 when the Hawkeye football team shocked the college football world!