Friday, October 28, 2005

Ex-Iowa Basketball Player Pierce Sent to Prison, But the News Isn't All Good--The Thug Could Be Out In Less Than A Year

Former Iowa basketball player Pierre Pierce was sentenced today to two years in prison for assaulting a former girlfriend at her apartment last January.

The 22-year-old player wept as he hugged his parents and relatives after he was sentenced. Moments later, he was handcuffed and escorted a block down the sidewalk to the county jail.

Reading from notes, Pierce apologized to the victim and blamed himself for what happened, the Associated Press reported from Adel.

"Not a single day goes by that I don't think about how things could have been different," Pierce told the judge. "Truly, deep down in my heart, I am sorry for my actions."

Pierce pleaded guilty in August to third-degree burglary, a felony, and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, false imprisonment and fourth-degree criminal mischief -- all misdemeanors.

Judge Gregory Hulse gave Pierce a five-year suspended sentence on the burglary charge. But Hulse sentenced Pierce to two years in prison on the assault charge and one year each for false imprisonment and criminal mischief, ordering the sentences be served concurrently.

With good behavior and completion of treatment as a sex offender, Pierce could be released after serving 11 months, said Fred Scaletta, a corrections department spokesman.

Pierce has 30 days to appeal his sentence, but lawyer Alfredo Parrish said he would advise Pierce not to do so.

The charges were filed after police began investigating a Jan. 27 disturbance a the West Des Moines home of a woman Pierce had been dating for 2½ years.

After police confirmed Pierce was the focus of their investigation, Iowa basketball coach Steve Alford dismissed him from the team. At the time, Pierce was the Hawkeyes' leading scorer and best defender.

In 2002, Pierce was charged with third-degree sexual abuse, but pleaded guilty to a lesser crime and was given a deferred judgment.

"This isn't a case about giving a young man a second chance," said Patricia Houlihan, assistant attorney general. "This is a case about holding a repeat offender accountable."

Pierce will be transferred early next week to the Oakdale Treatment Facility in Coralville, where he will be evaluated.

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Good. The only thing that would have made this a better story would be for Pierce to be sent to the slammer for a longer period of time. An eastern Iowa reader has already checked in with these thoughts on the Pierce situation: "I watched on TV as the judge read Pierce's sentence. What a bunch of crap. It pretty much amounts to a slap on the wrist, which is what I figured the jerk would get. It will be interesting to see how his new status as a registered sex offender will impact his future as a big-time basketball player after he's served his 'time.'"]


The St. Paul Pioneer Press says Katie DeWitt, who averaged a team-high 15 points a game last season for Centennial High School in Circle Pines, MN, has made a commitment to Drake.

Several schools were interested in DeWitt, but she chose Drake because the basketball program stayed interested in her despite broken bones in her left foot three times.

"I missed the summer after my sophomore year and Drake never lost faith in me the whole time,'' DeWitt said. "I like Drake because it's a small, really prestigious academic school.''

DeWitt said she would major in broadcast journalism or business.


Pierre Pierce's former team, Iowa, has been voted the 20th-best among the nation's major colleges in the coaches' preseason poll. Iowa State was ranked No. 23. Northern Iowa was among the teams receiving votes.

Look for Iowa to stay in the top 25 until about January. The Big Ten season is when Steve Alford's teams start losing big-time. Iowa State will be as good as its guards -- and the guards are pretty darn good.

None of Iowa's major-college coaches is voting in the poll. Maybe they weren't asked. Maybe they had no interest.

The poll:

Rank School (first-place votes) 2004-05 record Points 2004-05 final ranking

1. Duke (28) 27-6 767 7
Outlook: Blue Devils could return to top of Atlantic Coast Conference and contend for national honors behind experienced group led by Fs Shelden Williams and Lee Melchionni and Gs J.J. Redick and Sean Dockery. Youth will be served with high school All-Americans C Eric Boateng, F Josh McRoberts and G Greg Paulus aboard. Opens: Nov. 14 vs. Boston University in Preseason NIT (ESPN2, 6:30 p.m.).

2. Connecticut 23-8 692 17
Outlook: Status of G Marcus Williams (suspended) could determine how well Huskies do in Big East, but they're solid elsewhere with Fs Josh Boone and Rudy Gay, Ed Nelson, Denham Brown and Hilton Armstrong and G Rashad Anderson. Opens: Nov. 18 at Pepperdine (ESPNU, 10:30 p.m.).

3. Texas (2) 20-11 683 NR
Outlook: As long as F LaMarcus Aldridge is healthy and F P.J. Tucker is eligible, Longhorns should be much improved from last season's 9-7 Big 12 record. G Daniel Gibson provides steady floor leadership, and F Brad Buckman is solid. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. Sacramento State in Guardians Classic.

4. Villanova (1) 24-8 644 13
Outlook: After heartbreaking loss to North Carolina in the Sweet 16, Wildcats return with a loaded lineup, featuring Gs Allan Ray, Randy Foye and Mike Nardi. But 'Cats received serious blow with F Curtis Sumpter's knee injury. Health of F Jason Fraser also must be watched. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Stony Brook.

5. Michigan State 26-7 632 4
Outlook: After looking up at Illinois in Big Ten all season, Spartans got hot at right time and drove to Final Four. C Paul Davis and Gs Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown and Drew Neitzel hope to lead return trip. Opens: Nov. 19 at Hawaii.

6. Oklahoma 25-8 617 20
Outlook: Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout help lead dynamic frontcourt, and G Terrell Everett came into his own last season. Sooners should again be in thick of Big 12 hunt and are threat to go very far in March. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. Samford.

7. Gonzaga 26-5 540 18
Outlook: Ronny Turiaf is gone, but Bulldogs will be looking to make up for last season's early NCAA ouster behind Fs Adam Morrison and J.P. Batista and steady point guard Derek Raivio. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Idaho.

8. Louisville 33-5 536 3
Outlook: Coming off first Final Four appearance of Rick Pitino era and heading into Big East play, Cardinals should be strong again behind F Juan Palacios, G Taquan Dean and 6-11 Kansas transfer David Padgett. Palacios (ankle) and Padgett (foot) have been hampered by injuries, however. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. Tennessee-Martin.

9. Arizona 30-7 532 6
Outlook: Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire have departed, meaning Gs Hassan Adams and Mustafa Shakur and F Ivan Radenovic are among those who have to step up. Expect Wildcats to be more balanced as they strive for Pac-10 honors. Opens: Nov. 21 vs. Kansas in Maui Invitational at Lahaina, Hawaii (ESPN, 8 p.m.).

10. Kentucky 28-6 511 5
Outlook: Eligibility issues surrounding C Randolph Morris notwithstanding, Wildcats should again be Final Four threat behind Gs Rajon Rondo and Patrick Sparks and deep cast of youngsters who gained valuable experience a year ago. Opens: Nov. 13 vs. South Dakota State in Guardians Classic (ESPNU, 7 p.m.).

11. Boston College 25-5 484 19
Outlook: Eagles started 20-0 a year ago but went out in second round of NCAAs. Fs Craig Smith and Jared Dudley and G Louis Hinnant lead deep, veteran team that should be immediate contender in first year in ACC. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Dartmouth.

12. Memphis 22-16 354 NR
Outlook: Tigers look like class of new-look Conference USA and could go deep into March behind talented cast that features F Rodney Carney and G Darius Washington. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Preseason NIT.

13. Stanford 18-13 331 NR
Outlook: Return to good health of G Dan Grunfeld (knee) is key for Cardinal. PG Chris Hernandez and F Matt Haryasz will be that much more effective if Grunfeld's all-around game is back in force. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. UC-Irvine.

14. Alabama 24-8 295 NR
Outlook: Kennedy Winston and Earnest Shelton depart from last season's NCAA team. If Crimson Tide are to rise in Southeastern Conference, big years will be needed from Fs Jermareo Davidson and Chuck Davis and PG Ronald Steele. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. Miami (Ohio) in Preseason NIT.

15. West Virginia 24-11 265 12
Outlook: After narrowly missing Final Four trip, Mountaineers should be major factor in Big East behind sharp-shooting C Kevin Pittsnogle, G J.D. Collins and F Mike Gansey. Opens: Nov. 12 vs. Louisiana-Monroe in Guardians Classic.

16. Syracuse 27-7 210 21
Outlook: Level of success for Orange probably will depend on development of C Darryl Watkins and F Terrence Roberts, who will be called on to do a lot more after departure of All-America F Hakim Warrick. G Gerry McNamara returns for his final season, and freshman G Eric Devendorf is one to watch. Opens: Nov. 8 vs. Bethune-Cookman in 2K Sports Classic (ESPNU, 7 p.m.).

17. Illinois 37-2 201 2
Outlook: Last season's runner-up will miss Gs Deron Williams and Luther Head but welcomes back G Dee Brown and C-F James Augustine. This team will be young in spots and quality depth might be issue, but freshman F C.J. Jackson is one to watch. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. South Dakota State.

18. (tie) UCLA 18-11 190 NR
Outlook: Coach Ben Howland's rebuilding job starting to bear fruit. Bruins return four starters from last year's team that made NCAA tournament and could be ready to take the next step behind Gs Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo, F Josh Shipp (temporarily sidelined by hip surgery) and C Michael Fey. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. New Mexico State in Preseason NIT (ESPN2, 9 p.m.).

18. (tie) Wake Forest 27-6 190 11
Outlook: All-America point guard Chris Paul left for the NBA, and Fs Vytas Danelius and Jamaal Levy have also departed. C Eric Williams and G Justin Gray are mainstays returning to retooled team that still should be able to make some noise in ACC. Opens: Nov. 10 vs. Mississippi Valley State in 2K Sports Classic.

20. Iowa 21-12 176 NR
Outlook: With veteran cast, including Gs Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska and F Greg Brunner, returning from last season's NCAA team, Hawkeyes hope to take next step in Big Ten. Consistency was issue last season, but experienced roster should help there. Opens: Nov. 14 vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore in Guardians Classic.

21. Maryland 19-13 167 NR
Outlook: Terrapins disappointed in NIT bid last year, but this is veteran team that should make run for NCAAs. Fs Nik Caner-Medley, Travis Garrison and Ekene Ibekwe and Gs Chris McCray and Mike Jones all have plenty of experience. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson.

22. Indiana 15-14 153 NR
Outlook: Hoosiers could be heard from in Big Ten with four starters returning, including F D.J. White, 2005 Big Ten freshman of the year. Also coming aboard are two solid transfers from Auburn, F Marco Killingsworth and PG Lewis Monroe. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Nicholls State (ESPNU, 6 p.m. ET).

23. Iowa State 19-12 118 NR
Outlook: Cyclones qualified for NCAAs for first time in four years by knocking off some Big 12 royalty in waning weeks of last season. Behind Gs Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, they should be back in mix for league honors. Opens: Nov. 20 vs. Mountain State (W.Va.).

24. George Washington 22-8 109 NR
Outlook: Best news in offseason was that Fs Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Mike Hall pulled out of NBA draft. Their return, along with that of G J.R. Pinnock, could mean best season in a long time for Colonials. Opens: Nov. 23 vs. Kennesaw State.

25. Nevada 25-7 88 NR
Outlook: Wolf Pack again look like team to beat in Western Athletic Conference and have good inside-outside balance with F-C Nick Fazekas and Gs Ramon Sessions and Kyle Shiloh leading eight returning letter-winners. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. Sacramento State.

Others receiving votes: North Carolina State (21-14) 76; Ohio State (20-12) 72; Washington (29-6) 57; Kansas (23-7) 56; Wisconsin (25-9) 52; Texas Tech (22-11) 51; LSU (20-10) 45; Michigan (13-18) 35; Charlotte (21-8) 34; Oklahoma State (26-7) 34; North Carolina (33-4) 16; Old Dominion (28-6) 13; Georgetown (19-13) 10; Florida (24-8) 7; Northern Iowa (21-11) 7; Miami (Fla.) (16-13) 6; Vanderbilt (20-14) 3; Western Kentucky (22-9) 3; California (13-16) 2; UNLV (17-14) 2; Ohio (21-11) 2; Oral Roberts (25-8) 2; Utah State (24-8) 2; Bucknell (23-10) 1; Temple (16-14) 1; Texas A&M (21-10) 1.

The USA TODAY/ESPN Board of Coaches is made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions. All are members of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The board for the 2005-06 season: Dana Altman, Creighton; Tevester Anderson, Jackson State; Eddie Biedenbach, North Carolina-Asheville; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; Rick Byrd, Belmont; Charlie Coles, Miami (Ohio); Barry Collier, Nebraska; Dick Davey, Santa Clara; Fran Dunphy, Pennsylvania; Mick Durham, Montana State; Rob Evans, Arizona State; Steve Fisher, San Diego State; Pat Flannery, Bucknell; Greg Graham, Boise State; Tom Green, Fairleigh Dickinson; David Henderson, Delaware; Johnny Jones, North Texas; Eddie McCarter, Texas-Arlington; Bob McKillop, Davidson; Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's; Ron "Fang" Mitchell, Coppin State; Joe Mihalich, Niagara; Dan Monson, Minnesota; Dave Odom, South Carolina; Doc Sadler, Texas-El Paso; Bob Thomason, Pacific; Jimmy Tillette, Samford; Perry Watson, Detroit Mercy; Gary Williams, Maryland; Ted Woodward, Maine; Rich Zvosec, Missouri-Kansas City. The NABC prohibits schools on major NCAA or conference probation from receiving votes.