Monday, December 20, 2004

Crowds at ISU, Elsewhere Are Embarrassingly-Low

Attention, Wayne Morgan:

It was just a few weeks ago that you engaged in some double-talk, at first suggesting that you might want to consider some future schedule-changing for your Iowa State basketball team.

It was right after your Cyclones’ 73-46 victory over Drake that you said something about wanting to alter your scheduling of this state’s other Division I teams.

Some of us took that to mean you didn’t want to continue playing Drake and Northern Iowa. Heck, for all I know, maybe you didn’t even think much of playing Iowa.

The thing that got me ticked off was that this is only your third season of coaching in this state—two as a head coach, one as an Iowa State assistant—yet you talked like you wanted to change something that had been going on for nearly a century.

I mean—hey, man--the Drake-Iowa State basketball series began in 1907-08,

After someone apparently pointed out to you what you had said in your postgame comments, you quickly did an about-face. The next day, you said your remarks were “misinterpreted.”

So here we are, nearly a month later. Iowa State has a 6-2 record and is drawing embarrassingly-low crowds at Hilton Coliseum for its games.

Ironically, the crowd of 10,426 that watched the Drake game Nov. 23 is the second-largest the Cyclones have attracted in their 14,092-seat arena. The biggest home crowd has been 12,224 for the Virginia game.

Hilton Magic? That became past tense when Johnny Orr left the building.

Iowa State’s other home games have drawn four-figure crowds—9,632 for Northern Colorado, 8,936 for Howard, 8,914 for Bucknell and 8,705 for Wagner.

Any day now, look for the school’s ticket office to put ads in the paper, saying something about upper-level seats being lowered to $6 each.

Maybe less than that.

A guy told me the other day that he drove to Ames for the Drake game, hoping to buy a ticket outside the arena.

No problem, it turned out.

“Someone was holding up a whole handful of tickets he was trying to sell,” the guy told me.

“How much for one,” I asked him. “It’s a good seat.”

“Ten bucks,” he said.

“So I bought it,” the guy said. “Not until later did I see $2 on the ticket. So I got screwed out of $8.”


Iowa State isn’t the only Division I school in the state having trouble drawing fans.

They aren’t beating down the doors to get into Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, either.

Iowa, with a 9-1 record that includes victories over Iowa State, Drake and Northern Iowa, hasn’t had a capacity crowd of 15,500.

The closest was 15,312 for the Iowa State game.

Other home games have attracted 10,680 [UNC-Greensboro], a horribly-low 10,349 for UNI, 9,711 [Centenary] and 9,211 [Western Carolina].

Drake is the state’s only Division I school to draw a capacity crowd for a game. Actually, the 7,062 that turned out for the Iowa game at the 7,002-seat Knapp Center amounted to an overflow.

The Bulldogs’ other home crowds have been 4,612 for Western Illinois, 4,437 for Akron and 4,113 for Wichita State.

Northern Iowa’s crowds are nothing to brag about, especially with the school boasting one of the best teams in the Missouri Valley Conference and one of the nation’s hot up-and-coming coaches in Greg McDermott.

The Panthers have attracted crowds of only 7,615 for Iowa State, 4,104 for Wisconsin-Green Bay and 3,016 for Wayne State in the 10,000-seat UNI-Dome.

That’s pretty poor, folks.


The honeymoon is obviously over between coach Tom Davis, Drake and the local paper.

It’s starting to remind me of the Rudy Washington and Kurt Kanaskie years all over again.

The local paper didn’t send a reporter to Fort Collins, Colo., for the Bulldogs’ game Dec. 4 against Colorado State and didn't have one with them for their game Monday night at Cedar City, Utah, against Southern Utah.

Rick Brown or some other guy in the sports department who drew the short straw was no doubt assigned to monitor the radio broadcast of last tonight’s game so he could put together a story for today's paper, complete with quotes sent in by Drake sports information director Mike Mahon.

Then the editors put something like “Special to the Register” or “By a Special Correspondent” on the story to make it seem to readers that there really is something special about it.

Special, my ass.

I mean, Mike Mahon is one helluva writer--he proved that by out-reporting the guy from the local paper at the Olympics in Athens--but he wasn't hired by the clowns at 8th and Locust to write the game story. Nor should he be. He's on Drake's payroll.

By the way, Southern Utah rolled past Drake, 94-74. The Bulldogs' record fell to 2-5 because Southern connected on a school record 17 three-point

It's tough to win in the YMCA noon league when your opponent drills 17 three-pointers.

Southern, winning its fourth straight game, shot a sizzling
67.9 percent in the second half after leading at intermission, 44-42.

The Thunderbirds finished the game hitting 57.9 percent, including 54.8 percent from three-point range [17 of 31 shots]. The 17 three-point baskets were the second-highest by a Drake opponent.

Pete Eggers led Drake with 13 points. Klayton Korver, Chaun Brooks and freshman Leonard Houston added 10 apiece.

Jason Baker came off the bench to score 20 points for Southern
Utah, making six three-point field goals in nine tries.

"I thought we were in great shape at halftime," Davis said. "But we came out and couldn't move in the second half. It was like we were playing in cement.

"We had hoped we could have done a better job defending the perimeter.
But they played with three to four guards and were tough
to cover. They were much quicker than us."

[NOTE: Mike Mahon sends me the same game story and quotes he sends to the local paper and other media outlets. No need for any "Special Dispatch to Ron Maly" needed on this story. But thanks, Mike. Another great job. I'll be seeing you at the Knapp Center].


Bobby Knight the next Southern California basketball coach?

Hey, why not?

The Los Angeles Times says he’d like to be considered.

But the feeling evidently isn't mutual. Former Iowa State coach Tim Floyd is apparently the guy USC wants.

For now anyway.

Obviously, Knight wants out of Texas Tech, a basketball no-man’s land and.....well, just a no-man's land, period. He expressed interest in the Ohio State job last year, too. Ohio State is his alma mater, but he didn't get that job, either.

Still, I think the guy has one more move in him.

Just thinking.....Wouldn't it be something for Iowa to hire him if Steve Alford, one of his little puppy dogs at Indiana, left for one reason or another in the next year or two?

Nah. Forget it. Bob Bowlsby would never do it. But you’ve got to admit Bobby [Knight, not Bowlsby] would do wonders for the lousy attendance at Carver-Hawkeye. No more crowds of 9,711 and 9,211!


Terrible headline in the sports section of Monday's paper:

Snap! Bobble! Drop!
Shoulda ate Wheaties

Horrible. Just horrible.

The copy editor who wrote that headline should be sent to the Indianola paper. Or to the farm department. Jerry Perkins could straighten him [or her] out.


Interesting comment by George Eustachy of San Clemente, Calif., the father of Larry Eustachy, in the L.A. Times.

Larry, of course, declared himself an alcoholic and didn’t watch where he spent his time after games when he was Iowa State’s basketball coach. So his bosses fired him.

The administration was just looking for a way to get rid of Larry,” George said. “To me, it was a very minor thing.”

Larry was being paid $1.1 million a year at Iowa State, and now is being paid a lot less at Southern Mississippi, where his record is 7-2.

“It’s crazy,” he told the newspaper. “I lived in morbid fear of losing my $1.1 million job, so I drank at night to forget. You know, we drink to forget. Well, it ended up costing me my job.”

Eustachy said his former wife, Stacy, found him drunk in the kitchen one night in 2003 and told him he might have a problem.

“I never drank in front of my players, never missed a practice,” Eustachy said.

Eustachy added that he didn’t drink before or during games. However, reporters always wondered what was in that soft drink can he had under his bench during games. They also wondered what was in those bottles of orange juice he brought to his postgame press conferences.

Vol. 4, No. 288
Dec. 20, 2004