Thoughts about mostly Hawkeye sports on this third Sunday in May:
The feel-good story that is the 2015 Iowa baseball team took a hit when the Hawkeyes lost two out of three games to Rutgers to close the regular season. Iowa had won seven Big Ten series in a row before losing the first game to Rutgers on Thursday and the third and final game on Saturday.
Part of the fallout is that D1baseball.com no longer has Iowa hosting an NCAA regional in its latest projections. In fact, it lists Iowa as this week’s loser in the hosting race category, while American Athletic Conference champion Houston was picked as this week’s winner. The Cougars finished off a three-game sweep of Connecticut with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.
Iowa now has a smaller margin for error heading into Wednesday’s game against Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis. Hosting an NCAA regional for the first time in school history still is probably within Iowa’s reach under second-year coach Rick Heller, but not without making some noise in the conference tournament.
By noise, I mean finishing no worse than runner-up.
THANKS FOR SPEEDING UP THE GAME: Most of the time when there is talk about speeding up the game, the sport being analyzed is baseball.
But thankfully, not always.
The NCAA men’s basketball rules committee deserves praise for recently voting to shorten the shot clock to 30 seconds beginning next season. The NCAA’s shot clock had been at 35 seconds since 1993. The college game used a 45-second clock from 1985 to 1993.
This decision comes in the wake of a 2014-15 season in which scoring for Division I men’s basketball dipped to 67.6 points per game, which neared historic lows for the sport.
The committee also voted to decrease the number of timeouts from five to four with no more than three timeouts carrying over to the second half. It seems as if the committee is trying to take away some of the power and influence that coaches have in the closing minutes of games.
Say what you about baseball being slow, but it’s excruciating watching the end of some college basketball games because of how often play is stopped by a timeout.
HARBAUGH FINDS AN OPENING: I figured it was only a matter of time before Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh found a loophole to exploit in recruiting.
Barely five months into his new gig and the ultra-competitive Harbaugh has found one.
The NCAA has no rule that prevents former players from serving as instructors at a school’s summer camp. Former players are prohibited from making recruiting calls on behalf of a former coach. But working at a summer camp is fair game and Harbaugh apparently has taken notice.
The former San Francisco 49ers head coach, who also played quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons and at Michigan from 1983-86, has used his vast connections to assemble a star-studded cast for what is being advertised as the “Ann Arbor Aerial Assault Elite Quarterback Training School."
Harbaugh’s summer crew of quarterbacks reportedly will include Colin Kaepernick Jay Cutler, Denard Robinson and Jameis Winston.
That’s a lot of star power and name recognition for any school, let alone the all-time winningest school in major college football. The problem is it gives Michigan an unfair recruiting advantage unless the other schools start doing the same thing with their summer camps.
But do we really want that?
Do we really want what ultimately would turn into a summer camp bidding war in which the blue-blood programs almost certainly would prevail?
I don’t blame Harbaugh for doing whatever it takes to recruit as long as no rules are being broken. It just seems odd that the NCAA has very few restrictions for summer camps, while it seems to obsess over more trivial stuff.
BUILDING AN NBA PIPELINE: Just the fact that Aaron White participated in the NBA Pre-Draft was a victory for the Iowa men’s basketball program and for head coach Fran McCaffery.
Iowa has been represented at each of the past two NBA Pre-Draft events. Former Hawkeye shooting guard Devyn Marble attended the 2014 pre-draft before being selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the Orlando Magic.
The streak could continue next season if forward Jarrod Uthoff and center Adam Woodbury perform well as seniors for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa had gone seven years without having a player participate in the NBA Pre-Draft before Marble was invited. Shooting guard Adam Haluska was the last Hawkeye before Marble to attend the pre-draft in 2007.
McCaffery now has something to show when a recruit asks whether playing at Iowa would help his chance of making it to the NBA.
As for White, he was measured at 6-foot-7 and ¾ inches at the pre-draft without shoes. He also recorded a 35-inch vertical jump.
Speculation has White, who made first-team all-Big Ten as a senior, being taken in the second round of the NBA Draft, which only has two rounds.
LOW EXPECTATIONS: I recently wrote a column in which I predicted the Iowa football team would finish 7-5 this coming season, including a loss to Iowa State.
Most of the readers who responded accused me of being too positive. Only one response said I was too negative, but he had nothing to support his argument besides insults and wishful thinking.
It’s getting harder to find a true believer who is convinced that Iowa has what it takes to compete for a Big Ten title under veteran coach Kirk Ferentz. The frustration with Iowa combining to finish 19-19 over the past three seasons has many fans now thinking the worst about football.
SPEED IS COMING: It remains to be seen whether incoming recruit Emmanual Ogwo will be a force at receiver for the Iowa football team.
There is no questioning his speed, though.
Ogwo proved that on Saturday by finishing in fourth place in the Class 6A 400-meters at the Texas state track and field championships. The Mesquite, Texas native was clocked in a blazing time of 46.68 seconds.
To put that in perspective, former City High standout Calvin Davis holds the Iowa state meet record in the 400 at 47.01. Davis played receiver at Iowa from 2003-06.