Wednesday, June 01, 2005

'Big Victories Against the Girl Scouts and School for the Blind'

Not everyone is enchanted with Tom Davis and the basketball program he’s building at Drake.

That became evident when I received an e-mail from a reader who goes by the handle “Basketball Junkie."

I wrote a recent column that said Hoop Scoop, a national recruiting service based in Louisville, Ky., rated Davis’ recruiting class the best in the Missouri Valley Conference and the 83rd-best in the nation.

Here’s the e-mail from "Basketball Junkie:"

“Forget about Drake excelling under Tom Davis. Yes, he does seem like a nice guy and, granted, Drake’s program, plays at a level at which he is less-likely to drown, but Davis could successfuly recruit Jesus Christ himself and still find a way to piss the season down his legs.

“Just wait for Davis’ new-and-improved powder-puff schedule at Drake. History will repeat itself: Big victories against the Girl Scouts and School for the Blind, but come conference play…..WHAM!—sub-.500 season once more.

“Hiring Tom Davis: A half-baked publicity stunt by Drake to simply put bodies into the Knapp Center?”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Hiring Davis, the winningest coach in University of Iowa basketball history, was an interesting experiment by the folks at Drake. Sure, his contract wasn’t renewed by Iowa and, sure, he hadn’t coached for four years. I thought Davis would be able to win some games at Drake, which hasn’t had a winning season since Gary Garner’s team went 17-14 in 1986-87. I guess I was among those surprised by how far Drake’s program had fallen during the Tom Abatemarco, Rudy Washington and Kurt Kanaskie eras. After all, I had covered the Bulldogs in the glory years when Maury John’s teams went 26-5, 22-7 and 21-8, going to the NCAA tournament all three seasons [1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71]. Drake’s faulty hiring practices started immediately after John left to take the Iowa State job. Howard Stacey, who was John’s replacement at Drake, went 7-19 in his first season. There hasn’t been much Bulldog basketball excitement since].


George Wine of Coralville, a former sports information director at Iowa and now an author, has more input into the Tom Davis situation:


“Did Tom ever have the No. 1 recruiting class in the Big Ten? It’s ironic that Gary Close is getting credit for out-recruiting Iowa for Jason Bohannon. If Gary had recruited Raef LaFrentz, Tom Davis would probably still be at Iowa.


[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: I don’t recall Davis ever having the No. 1-rated recruiting class at Iowa, and there were plenty of raised eyebrows among Hawkeye fans when Hawkeye coaches lost Iowa high school recruits LaFrentz, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison to Kansas. Gary Close is a former Davis assistant at Iowa who now is on the Wisconsin staff. Close is getting credit for locking up Bohannon, the Linn-Mar of Marion standout who is the son of former Hawkeye quarterback Gordy Bohannon].


Old friend Harold Yeglin went a long way to hear someone shout, “Go, Hawks!” recently.

Here’s his e-mail:

“Milka and I attended an evening concert on May 8 by the Pilsen Philharmonic, the closing event in the city’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of liberation at the end of World War II. It was a program of all-American music and the guest conductor was an American named Arthur Prannor from Central Florida University. From the program notes [in Czech], I gleaned the fact that this fellow had studied at the University of Iowa. Great!

“After the concert in this grand hall, I spotted him in the foyer. Hey, I had to talk to this guy! So I introduced myself, noting that I, too, had attended the U. of I., considerably before, as it turned out, than he did. He’d graduated in 1982. We talked music, his career, etc., then shook hands and went our ways. He went off to a private reception on the same floor. I started down the marbled steps to street level. I took about two steps down and heard a voice from above boom out: ‘Go, Hawks!’

“I turned around. He was gone. Once a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye…..even in far-away Pilsen.


[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: I’ll bet Harold and his wife, Milka, would have been able to strike up quite a conversation with Prannor at their meeting in the Czech Republic about Hawkeye quarterback Drew Tate and the miraculous touchdown pass he threw on the final play of the Capital One Bowl game last Jan. 1. It’s obvious that Hawkeye fans are all over the world].


Bud Appleby, another friend from my newspaper days, ran into some interesting TV recently.

His e-mail:


“I was surfing through the TV channels over the weekend trying to find something good and ended up watching a barbeque contest on the Food Channel. Seems these barbeque cooks travel around the country entering contests for prize money.

“The announcer said the judges -- who have to be certified after some training -- also travel to many of the contests. He had a brief interview with one of the judges. It was Johnny Majors of football fame.

“That must be a much different lifestyle for him. I know I'd rather eat some good barbeque than coach football any time.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Johnny Majors is the guy who made watching football fun again at Iowa State from 1968-1972. He had a 24-30-1 record and took the Cyclones to the first two bowl games in school history. He later coached at Pittsburgh, where he won a national championship, and Tennessee. I’m glad he’s finding some barbeque that tastes good at this stage in his life. I’ll look for him on the tube].


Bobby Knight, the former Indiana basketball coach who now is at Texas Tech, continues to fascinate people—even young people.

I know because I received this e-mail recently:

“Hello, my name is Nick Nuttle and I’m a student in 10th grade at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y. I am doing a research paper on Bobby Knight, and I was wondering you could answer a few questions regarding his life.

“1. Do you feel that Bobby Knight’s actions and outrages were appropriate for the NCAA? Why or why not?

“2. Do you consider Bobby Knight to be one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time?

“3. Do you know any personal information about Bobby Knight or have you ever met him?

“4. Was the NCAA correct in punishing Bobby Knight for his actions?

“5. Do you think the coaches Bobby Knight had during his time as a player have had any influence on the way he coaches now?

“If you could send me your responses to these questions, that would be great. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say about Bobby Knight. Thank you for your time.

“—Nicholas T. Nuttle

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: I was glad to help out the 10th-grader. This was how I answered him:


Here are my responses to your questions about Bobby Knight:

1. Bobby Knight is, and has been, an outstanding collegiate basketball coach. He has been involved in a few things over the years that I'm sure he would do differently if given the choice. All in all, however, he has been good for the sport of basketball, and it has been good to him.

2. I consider Knight to be one of the greatest basketball coaches ever. He has won Big Ten and NCAA championships--things that other coaches can only dream of doing.

3. I have been with Knight both socially and in business situations. He has been very kind to me, and I appreciate his friendship. He once offered to write a guest column for me when I was a newspaper sportswriter. I agreed to let him write the column, and he wrote it about Johnny Orr, who he had coached against when both were in the Big Ten. At the time, Orr had just taken the Iowa State coaching job.

4. Knight had more problems with his bosses at Indiana than he did with the NCAA. I could take issue with some of the things Indiana did to him.

5. I think the way Knight coaches has more to do with his personality rather than the way he has been influenced by other coaches.


Ron Maly].


Barry Crist e-mailed this information to me:

“Van Coleman, in a special to, writes that ‘Steve Alford and his Iowa Hawkeyes have received a commitment from one of the top young talents in the class of 2008 in 6-4, 195-pound Matt Gatens from City High of Iowa City.”

Coleman wrote that Gatens “really exploded this past winter at City High. He had a high game of 39 points and averaged 18 points and 5.5 boards along with 3.3 assists an outing versus 4-A competition. Gatens hit 77 percent from the line and 45 percent from the field, including 38 three-pointers.

“The Hawkeyes had already offered him after a stellar spring last year. So why was this the right time? Matt Gatens and his dad, former Hawkeye Mike Gatens [class of 1976] explained why.

“’Well, my dad and I sat down a couple weeks ago and decided to get serous about my recruiting,’ Matt Gatens told ‘We started to look at which schools I might consider, but I knew that was dumb because I knew that I wanted to be an Iowa Hawkeye! It’s what I’ve dreamed about most of my life, and I felt it was the right decision for me, so why go any further, it was time to commit to Coach Alford.’

Matt Gatens said he also considered Wisconsin “and took an unofficial visit to Madison…..But I guess it’s always been Iowa…..”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: I guess you know you’ve been around a while when the sons of guys you watched play are getting ready to become Hawkeyes. I remember Mike Gatens when he lettered as an Iowa player in 1974, 1975 and 1976 under coaches Dick Schultz and Lute Olson].


I don’t know if an e-mail--titled “Strange Question,” I received from “Midwest Woman”--had anything to do with the recent column I wrote about the marriage of Mary Kay Letourneau, 43, and her former student Vili Fualaau.

But here it is anyway. The e-mail, I mean:

“Ron, [your web page triggered this question]

“I wonder why we don’t use castration, either surgical or chemical on sexual predators. I can understand it is very extreme, but it does not seem very extreme for a man who commits more than once, sometimes committing murder, or at the very least changing a child’s life forever. Especially since we know they cannot be cured.

“Apparently they used to do that, because a man in my hometown was a predator and my mother told me about him. She seemed to feel he was harmless, but he always wanted me to ride to school with him. I walked about a mile. It was a different time!

“I always wanted to ask someone, but no one ever discusses this. I told you it was strange.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Castration is among the subjects I have not researched. Until I do the research that’s necessary, I can’t come forward with any intelligent comments on this topic].

Vol. 4, No. 348
June 1, 2005