Saturday, February 04, 2006

Iowa Alone In First Place, Alford Says He Hopes 28-Point Victory 'Sent a Message to Digger, Who Hasn't Been On Our Side for a Long, Long Time'

Bobby Hansen wanted to know if Steve Alford thought Iowa’s 94-66 victory today over Michigan sent any sort of message to the rest of the Big Ten Conference.

“I don’t know if it sent a message to the league, but I hope it sent a message to Digger,” Alford said of the biggest Hawkeye victory in history over Michigan, and one that helped put Iowa in first place in the conference all by itself.

I assume Alford [right], who is in his seventh season as Iowa’s coach, was talking about ESPN basketball analyst Digger Phelps [left].

“Digger hasn’t been on our side for a long, long time,” Alford said of the former Notre Dame coach. “I hope he keeps picking the visitors who come in here [to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City] because we’ve had a lot of success with that.”

Iowa has won 15 consecutive home games, going back to last season.

My advice to Alford is this:

Don’t worry about anything Phelps says. He was all show and no go when he coached for 20 seasons at Notre Dame. He was more interested in what kind of flower he was wearing in his lapel than in a game plan that might pull off an upset.

Fans –- and certainly coaches –- shouldn’t pay any attention to what Phelps and other has-been coaches say on ESPN.

Alford made his comments about Phelps and a victory that sent Iowa’s records to 7-2 in the Big Ten and 18-5 overall on the Hawkeye radio network.

Iowa's victory, plus Illinois' shocking 66-65 loss tonight to lowly Penn State, left the Hawkeyes alone in first place.

Alford’s team hammered a Michigan team that was clearly overmatched. The Hawkeyes made Wolverines coach Tommy Amaker look a lot like Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr – helpless.

I mean, with his Wolverines losing by more than 20 points late in the game, Amaker kept them in a zone defense that looked like it couldn’t stop anyone in a noon league at the YMCA.

“This is our sixth win over a top-25 team,” Alford said. “I think we’ve secured some things now, and it’s time for this team to focus on the journey they’ve really wanted to get to –- and that’s battling for a championship.


One of the nice things that's happening at games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena is when the Hawkeye players go over to the boisterous student crowd to thank them for their support after a victory.

When it happens, it gives the student fans even more reason to make noise.

The players are doing that because university officials don't want fans rushing the court like they've done in some earlier Big Ten games.

Hawkeye fans have gotten accustomed to going onto the Kinnick Stadium field after big victories, but I share the belief of others that too much of that fans-rushing-the-field [and court] can be a bad thing.

It would be pretty ugly if the fans got tangled up with unhappy players from the opposing team at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The players going to the fans makes more sense.