Saturday, January 08, 2005

'Mr. November' Is Messing Up Some Good Rumors

Steve Alford sure knows how to screw up some good rumors.

I’m sure a few of you have already heard the rumors.

The short version goes like this:

1. Mike Davis, who has not exactly come across as another Bobby Knight in his job as Indiana’s basketball coach [Davis has thrown one fewer chair and choked one fewer Hoosier player], gets fired at the end of the season.

2. Steve Alford, the “Mr. November” of Big Ten Conference basketball coaches, is still adored by Hoosier fans. They like Alford more than Iowa’s fans like Alford. So, after Davis is canned, Alford is courted heavily by those who do the hiring at Indiana.

3. Alford initially says, “I love it at Iowa and my family is happy here. My kids all wear Tiger-Hawk sweatshirts and Tanya, my wife, likes her seat at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.” However, Alford finally agrees to meet Indiana’s athletic director in the baggage claim area at O’Hare Airport in Chicago to discuss the Hoosier job.

4. News leaks out in an alternative newspaper in Indianapolis that Alford might like to take the Indiana job. He figures it would be a chance to prove that he actually knows something about coaching in the Big Ten. Besides, he misses practicing jump shots every afternoon at Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

5. Alford accepts the Indiana offer in April. Most Indiana fans are happy, and all Iowa fans are ecstatic. Parades are scheduled in both Bloomington and Iowa City when the news is announced.

6. Bob Bowlsby, Iowa’s athletic director, hires Greg McDermott of Northern Iowa as the Hawkeyes’ new coach two days after Alford leaves town.

7. In the 2005-2006 preseason magazines, Iowa is picked to win the conference title. Indiana is picked to finish ninth.


I ran the rumors of Alford replacing Davis at Indiana if Indiana cans Davis past a guy who spends a lot of time critiquing Hawkeye athletics.

“I wonder what Bowlsby has in mind to replace Alford if all this unfolds,” he said. “I like the guy at UNI. Excellent coach and a humble, small-town Iowa boy. What a change that would be.”


But, like I said, Alford is messing up this whole scenario.

His 14th-ranked team [which suddenly will drop to about No. 20 in the next poll] is off to an 0-2 start in the Big Ten. No Iowa team has done that since 1993-94.

After the shocking 65-63 home loss Wednesday to Michigan, the Hawkeyes were blitzed by Ohio State, 81-69, today.

Keep this up and those folks at Indiana may decide that maybe Alford isn’t the guy they want.

“We were really playing well and now we look like a different basketball team,” Alford told reporters in Columbus after today’s game. “It’s unfortunate this came at the start of the Big Ten season, but I told the guys that 0-2 is not the end of the season.”


Unfortunately, those listening to Gary Dolphin and Bobby Hansen on the Iowa radio network didn’t get to hear Alford’s explanation for why Iowa flopped again.

Dolphin said “technical difficulties with our recorder and microphone” prevented him from putting Alford’s comments on the air.

So I had to relay that message to my West Coast Correspondent, who had e-mailed me with this question:

I was wondering something, and maybe you can answer me: When is Iowa going to get itself a basketball coach?”

I was tempted to say, “Not until Greg McDermott signs the contract,” but instead I told West Coast Correspondent that technical problems with the recorder and microphone kept us from hearing Alford’s comments on the postgame radio show.

However, I really can’t say for sure if Alford planned to explain on that postgame show when Iowa aims to get itself a basketball coach.

“Alford’s team is having technical difficulties, that’s for sure,” West Coast Correspondent replied.


Fortunately, the plug wasn’t pulled in Columbia, Mo., on John Walters and Eric Heft, the radio guys for Iowa State.

Cyclone coach Wayne Morgan went on the air after the Cyclones’ 62-59 loss, whether he wanted to or not.

After all, it was Iowa State’s 26th straight Big 12 Conference road loss dating back to February, 2001.

“It’s obviously hard to be very happy or jubilant or anything like that,” Morgan told Walters. “That’s a bad loss, and there are guys in the locker room crying over it.”

Morgan said his players “gave everything they had, A 17-minute stretch in the second half was probably the best 17 minutes we’ve played all year.”

I hate to say something like this about the opening Big 12 game of the season, but it was almost a “must-win” situation for the Cyclones.

Now they must play second-ranked Kansas on Wednesday at Ames and they’re at No. 6 Oklahoma State next Saturday.

An 0-3 Big 12 start would not be promising for an Iowa State team that has an 8-4 overall record and will consider it a disappointment to not make it to the NCAA tournament.


In a sidebar to the advance story on the Iowa-Ohio State basketball game, the local paper had a story headlined:

Clank! Shaq and
Pierce can't shoot

Can someone please tell me what Pierre Pierce's free-throw shooting problems have to do with Shaquille O'Neal's?

The same idiot must have written that story and headline that wrote this headline less a week earlier in the same paper:

Vikings enter
through rear

Like I said earlier, the copy editor who authored that garbage should be dumped out on Locust Street immediately.

Shipping him or her to the farm department would be too unkind. To the farm department, I mean.

Jerry Perkins doesn't deserve that kind of treatment right after Christmas.

After thinking about it, I now have a better idea. Maybe Indianapolis can use him or her.


A feature of Mediacom's TV coverage of Drake's men's team tonight included interviews by announcers B. J. Schaben and Ron Angell of coach Tom Davis and Bulldog player Klayton Korver following the 79-73 victory over Bradley.

"I was going to let Klayton do this by himself," Davis joked, "but he convinced me to come over with him.

Davis made the comment after Schaben, the play-by-play announcer, congratulated Davis on "a huge win."

The victory gave Drake records of 5-7 overall and 2-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Bradley is 9-3 and 2-2.

"It was a nice win for the team because we've been struggling," Davis said. "We've been giving good effort and not feeling like we've been rewarded ss much as we would have liked.

"I'm real proud of how the team hung in there coming down the stretch. Bradley made some great plays. They made some crucial shots to prolong the game, but we made good plays as well.

"We outrebounded another team here tonight, and that really got my attention because Bradley has been outrebouding its opponents by eight or nine. That's a sign of the scrappiness of this ballclub. When people see Korver get 11 rebounds, that's pretty strong. It's the sign of a sensational game."

Korver, who added 12 points to his outstanding performance, said, "Everybody worked real hard, and that was the key to the win."


After what happened to Nate Kaeding tonight in San Diego, I'd hurry back to Iowa City as soon as possible.


Back to Alford for a minute.

He continues to be a favorite subject of my readers.

From an Urbandale man:

“I would agree that Alford is not a great coach. It’s obvious that he does not see himself as a great coach. However, he is probably an ‘adequate’ coach. He did take his previous team [Southwest Missouri State] to the NCAA and he did better than expected in his first year at Iowa. Since then, he made some mistakes with handling of players and experienced some old-fashioned hard luck last year. I don’t ever see him as a great recruiter. After next year, I am afraid that he will fall back into the pattern of being adequate, but nothing more.”

From a West Des Moines woman:

“Why would so many be thrilled to get rid of Alford? He seems to be getting better as a coach.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: Both of those e-mails were written before “Mr. November” suffered through those Michigan and Ohio State debacles. Obviously, things have gotten much worse since].

Vol. 4, No. 297
Jan. 8, 2005