Friday, December 02, 2005

Ex-Marshalltown Bobcat Mark Robinson Talks About Another Jeff Horner-Michael Bell Matchup Tonight, And It'll Always Be Bobby Hansen--Not Bob Or Robert

Mark Robinson has spent much of his life in Iowa, but now lives in Valencia, CA.

Even from far away, however, Robinson keeps track of what's going on in sports in his home state.

Here's Mark's latest e-mail to me:

"There is a story unfolding with regard to tonight's matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Fairfield Stags in the first round of the Hawkeye Classic.

"Michael Bell [pictured on the near left], a native of Marshalltown, is a senior on the Fairfield team. As you may recall, Bell and Mason City's Jeff Horner [above], played in some wild high school games against one another. It was a rivalry that, at its end, put 5,000 Bobcat fans in the seats of the Marshalltown Roundhouse for the first time in ages as both highly-ranked teams squared off. Mason City won. Michael was a first-team all-stater as a senior.

"Michael's father, Tim, who is the athletic director at Marshalltown, and I were classmates and teammates on the 1973 Marshalltown state tournament team that claimed fourth place. Tim was a great player and is an even better athletic director. Tim's father was my ninth-grade coach at Anson Junior High.

"As Tim put it, 'Every time we played against Horner, he just blew up on us.'

"In fact, Jeff did have some of his best games against the Bobcats.

"Tonight's game will be the first time Michael and Jeff will face off against each other since that last fateful game in the revered Roundhouse.

"I think it might be a nice sidebar to tonight's game, but I haven't read anything about it yet.

"Take care, Ron and keep writing....."

Mark Robinson
Former Marshalltown Bobcat
Valencia, CA

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Bell is averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds for Fairfield, which is 0-3 heading into the game against Iowa. It's good to have him back in the state for a couple of games, and thanks for sending the information, Mark.]


Craig Cooper talks about bowl games in his latest e-mail:

"Hey Ron,

"Hawks vs. Huskers or Sooners would be a great matchup, but I also like Iowa State vs. TCU. Cyclones could have their hands full, they would get to play inside in a great building and not have to worry about conditions [think Boise] and would be playing in prime recruiting territory. Bret Meyer [pictured] might throw for 350--250 of that to Todd Blythe, with no swirling winds to worry about."

Craig Cooper

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: It looks like Iowa will play Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 at San Antonio, and I'm sure Iowa State will tee it up with Texas Christian in the Houston Bowl on Dec. 31. I like the Hawkeyes' chances, but I'm not so sure the Cyclones will win--especially if the game goes into overtime].


My mention of Bobby Hansen [far left] in a column earlier this week produced this e-mail from a suburban Des Moines woman:


"A little-known fact, which I was told was true. Bobby Hansen is named Bobby, not Robert or Bob. He is a cousin of my former husband, but they did not grow up knowing each other. They met after Bobby was in the NBA. His father was related to Harvey's father,and when he married again after his wife died, they lost track of the family.

"As I said, this is not important unless you want to know that I was formerly married to a man who was a cousin of an NBA player. Will it make me rich? HAH!"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I had written about talking with Hansen--a former Dowling, Iowa and NBA player and now the analyst on radio broadcasts of the Hawkeyes' games--during and after the Valley-Dowling girls basketball game in the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse at Valley High School. Hansen's daughter, Carly, is a guard for Valley, which upset Dowling that night, 48-41. When I wrote the column after the game, I was about to say that I wondered if a guy Hansen's age still likes being called Bobby. Now that I know Bobby is his actual name, I'll quit wondering.


Iowa fan Richard Hayman had some observations and concerns after watching on the tube when the Hawkeyes slipped past North Carolina State, 45-42, earlier this week:

"Hello, Mr. Maly,

"Yes, there were many positives to take from the game. I, too, was pleased to see a nearly-full arena of boisterous fans. I'm also very impressed by Iowa's defense. My concern is our offense. As I continue to reflect on this young season, I can't help but feel that we're in for a heartbreaking season if we don't find a way to get better shots. The 'offense' isn't just something we draw up on paper and hope it works. Against overmatched foes, a structured offense isn't critical. But, in games where our opponent comes out and plays defense as well as we do, we need to be able to free up shooters for high percentage shots and get into an offensive rhythm. I don't care how good some of our shooters may be; they will continue to have a lot of 'cold' nights....which would be attributed to lack of offensive strategy and imagination, rather than continuing to dismiss these performances as 'off' nights.

"I don't get paid for coaching and spending my waking hours putting together offensive game plans. I also don't get scouting reports. But, if I were getting paid for this, you can be sure that I would be busting up a defense like we saw against N.C. State. I recall one play where we, seemingly accidentally set a low post pick, quickly rotated the ball, sealed the inside, and were able to drive unmolested to the basket for a layup. After that play, I was hoping for a 'eureka' experience amongst our coaching staff....but it didn't happen. It didn't make sense that we continued to drive right into the teeth of a shot-blocking interior defense
and force shots. From the way we started the game, it seemed like the more we ran our offense, the less offensively productive we were.

"The role of our offensive strategy, unique for every game, has to be about how we will manufacture points in a well-balanced attack. And, in that process, we have to find a way to turn loose the 'horses' who can break down a defense.

"Offense is what's missing, and I don't see the players getting much help from the sidelines."

Richard Hayman

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Nobody is yet calling Steve Alford a coaching genius, even though his Hawkeyes are off to a good start with a talented team. I'm waiting to see what happens when Iowa gets into the thick of the Big Ten race in January and February].