By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – From Iowa’s standpoint, the biggest news to come from Big Ten Media Day on Thursday was Tyler Cook not making the preseason all-conference team.
Iowa’s junior power forward wasn’t among the 10 players selected by the media and he told reporters that being passed over made him laugh and that it just adds more fuel to the fire.
That was Cook’s not-so-subtle way of saying that he disagreed with being left off the team and is determined to prove his doubters wrong.
You could make a strong case that the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Cook deserves to be on the preseason team because he is one of the most dynamic low-post scorers in the conference.
Cook enters his junior season having scored in double figures in 44 games, and he and Greg Stokes are the only Hawkeyes to total more than 500 points and 200 rebounds during their sophomore season.
But Cook also plays for a team that finished just 4-14 in the Big Ten and 14-19 overall last season. It was a stunning decline caused mostly from being a sieve on defense.
It seems that Cook is guilty by association and that the media has little respect for Iowa as a team, or for its players, because of what happened last season.
That is part of the cost of losing in that people lose faith in you.
Cook also struggled on defense last season, but preseason recognition is usually based more on offensive accomplishments from the previous season and on how your team performed.
Cook performed well on offense for much of last season, but apparently not well enough to offset the damage caused by his team’s lack of success.
Indiana freshman guard Romeo Langford made the team over Cook despite having not even played in a game yet.
“There’s no question in my mind he should be on there,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Cook being left off the all-Big Ten team. “I think more importantly: Where do you end up? Preseason lists, preseason rankings don’t mean a thing. We’ve got to play the season and we’ve got to see where you end up. For him, it’s more important that he end up as a first-round (NBA) draft pick than on any all-conference team.”
The media also picked Iowa to finish 10th in the conference standings, which some might consider a slap in the face when it’s more a case of having baggage from last season.
Iowa wasn’t even competitive in some Big Ten games last season, and Cook is now paying the price from an individual standpoint.
A team doesn’t finish 10 games below .500 in conference play and allow nearly 80 points per game on defense without losing some respect.
Iowa has to prove that last season was a fluke or an aberration, because right now, the media has little faith in the Hawkeyes as a team or as individual players.
Preseason awards aren't a big deal because they're based solely on reputation and potential. They're mostly just a popularity contest and Iowa isn't very popular right now.
But they still mean something because you want to be recognized for all your hard work.
Cook being left off the preseason all-conference team sends a message loud and clear that he just has to keep working and that his team has to start winning.
2018-19 All-Big Ten preseason team
Romeo Langford, Indiana
Juwan Morgan, Indiana.
Anthony Cowan Jr., Maryland
Charles Matthews, Michigan
Nick Ward, Michigan State
Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Jordan Murphy, Minnesota.
James Palmer Jr., Nebraska
Carsen Edwards, Purdue
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin