Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Alford Did What He Had to Do In Dismissing Pierce

The way I’ve got it figured, people at the University of Iowa were looking over my shoulder when I was putting this column together.

I had just written that there was a circus performing at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, and Pierre Pierce was the main act under the big top.

I also wrote that there was no way I’d want Pierce playing in Saturday’s Big Ten game against Michigan State, and—for that matter—it’s time for officials at the school to say that travelin’ man Pierre has played his last game for the Hawkeyes.

Then a couple of hours later, coach Steve Alford stepped up and showed that he agreed with me.

He kicked Pierce off the team.

For good.

At least I hope it's for good.

“Effective immediately, Pierre Pierce has been dismissed from the University of Iowa men’s basketball team,” Alford said in a statement sent to me by Iowa’s sports information office.

“I regret this step has become necessary, but Pierre has betrayed the trust we placed in him when he was given a second chance two years ago. Pierre is an excellent basketball player who will be missed by our team. But, given the circumstances, I feel this is the only appropriate response.”

The 6-foot 4-inch, 195-pound Pierce, a junior guard from Westmont, Ill., was Iowa’s leading scorer with a 17.8-point average. He had started in 80 of 84 games during his career.

Alford did what he had to do. I don’t know if he made the decision to dismiss Pierce by himself or if someone in a higher office told him to do it.

All I know is that Pierce obviously made one too many trips to West Des Moines.

And, from what I hear, he wasn’t going to the new mall out there.

It’s a sad ending to a sad period in Hawkeye basketball history.

Here’s the column I had just finished before Alford took action and wiped Pierce’s name from Iowa’s basketball future:

IT LOOKS like there’s a new setup at Iowa City.

When people want to get in touch with Pierre Pierce—you know, maybe to get his autograph or to see if he wants to speak at a YMCA kids’ camp in the summer--they call the basketball office at the University of Iowa and talk to a secretary.

“Can you please give me Pierre’s phone number?” you ask.

“Do you want his Iowa City number or his West Des Moines number?” the secretary says.


That leads me to this comment:

Pierce appears to be spending more time in West Des Moines than me, and I’ve owned a home here for 38 years.

Kind of makes me wonder how Pierce manages to find time to practice with Jeff Horner, Greg Brunner and the rest of the boys.


No way do I think Pierce should play in Saturday’s game against Michigan State.

He has become the main circus act under the big top that is otherwise known as Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

It’s the kind of circus the University of Iowa doesn’t need.

Indeed, I’m to the point where I think it’s time for officials at the school to say that Pierce has played his last game as a Hawkeye.

There’s a limit to the embarrassment that people in this state should have to put up with.


They’re saying that Pierce was in West Des Moines last Thursday. Maybe Friday, too.

Let’s see, it was Wednesday night that he committed 10 turnovers in Iowa’s ridiculous loss at Northwestern.

The final error came when his in-bounds pass in the final seconds of overtime went directly to a Northwestern player.

The last time I could recall something like that happening was a quarter-century or so ago when a Drake player threw the ball into the hands of an opposing player, who proceeded to easily make the game-winning layup.

In those days, that got people laughing.

“Did the Drake guy have money on the game?” they joked.

Well, at least I thought they were joking.


Shame on Pierce for pulling such a shenanigan when he did. It screwed up attorney Alfredo Parrish’s skiing vacation in Colorado.

By the way, who’s paying Parrish for the work he’s been doing for Pierce? Or is he getting paid?


Drake loses to Illinois State, 59-58, with 4 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs’ records sink to 3-8 in the Missouri Valley Conference and 7-12 overall. That’s after going 7-11 and 12-16 last season.

Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Tom Davis had in mind when he came out of retirement after becoming the University of Iowa’s winningest coach.


Two of the things you can count on following an Iowa State basketball victory:

[1] Coach Wayne Morgan’s answers to announcer John Walters’ questions on the postgame radio show will consist of three words instead of one or two; [2] Morgan’s postgame show will last three minutes instead of two minutes.


E-mail from an Iowan who is spending the winter in Florida:

“I didn’t get to see the Northwestern-Iowa game. But I heard about the awful ending. Tom Davis lost to Northwestern twice in 13 seasons. Alford has lost three straight to the Cats.”


I ran into a guy, who was wearing a blue-and-white Drake cap, at Sam’s Club on 8th Street in West Des Moines who said he still can’t figure out something.

He wondered why Lewis Lloyd’s jersey is retired at Drake, and Willie McCarter’s isn’t.


E-mail from an eastern Iowa reader:

I was watching the usual TV rehash of Iowa basketball with Gary Dolphin. Coach Steve Alford is so smug and proud of himself for benching his captains for a whole 2 minutes 28 seconds. Why is it so hard to like that guy?”


Cheer up, Hawkeye fans.

At least you’ve still got Kirk Ferentz.

And Ferentz is showing some discipline, too.

Hawkeye football player Antwan Allen was involved in an altercation with authorities before the end of the first semester.

“I became aware of Antwan Allen’s situation prior to the semester break,” Ferentz said. “At that time, I prescribed disciplinary measures that are to be completed prior to spring break. Also, I informed him that if charges and a conviction followed, more measures will be taken, including suspension of playing time.”

The best thing about the recent sale of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which had been a Pulitzer newspaper: The Gannett Co.—publisher of USA Today and the local paper-- wasn’t able to buy it.

The worst thing about the sale: Lee Enterprises was the buyer.


And finally……

In the You’ve-Got-to-Be-Kidding Dept.:

Why did the local paper have a copyright on the Pierre Pierce story it carried yesterday?

That’s like putting a copyright on a story that’s a day old.

Surely the editors knew that every every website, every TV station and every radio station that cared had the story before the local paper had it—and provided more news in their stories.

The local paper has been playing catch-up all week The only people they’re kidding are themselves.

Vol. 4, No. 303
Feb. 2, 2005