Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Some Timing: Cyclones' Tasheed Carr Has Had Enough, So He Quits. Gordy Scoles Wonders If Division III Basketball Is Best for Overmatched Drake

If you ask me, Tasheed Carr sure picked a strange time to quit Iowa State's basketball team.

But, hey, who knows what goes through the minds of 19-, 20- and 21-year-old college students these days?

Carr [lower left], a 6-4 sophomore guard from Philadelphia who was averaging 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds, left the Iowa State program today so he can transfer to another school.

I guess that means he's not real happy in Cyclone Alley.

Timing? Go figure.

Iowa State is getting ready to play Oklahoma State on Thursday in the Big 12 Conference's postseason tournament, then is headed for the NIT -- whether it wants to be or not.

Why would a sophomore quit at this stage of the season?

Lack of playing time probably had something to do with it. It always does. Carr hadn't appeared in Iowa State's last five games.

Hell, for all I know, maybe he was upset that he wasn't chosen to the coaches' all-conference first team.

Everybody else seems to be.

Maybe Carr got on the wrong side of people by being one of those players in a Sports Illustrated poll who voted Curtis Stinson, an Iowa State guard, the dirtiest guy in the Big 12.

[Those last two items -- the one about the all-conference team and the one about Carr voting for Stinson -- are jokes].

Maybe Carr has something against the NIT.

[That's not a joke. I don't think much of the NIT, either].

Or the Big 12 tournament.

“Tasheed Carr has left the team and has informed me that he intends to transfer to another school," Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan said. "He will not be in a Cyclone uniform for the rest of this season. We wish him well and we will work to help him find a new school as soon as possible.”

The fact that Carr hasn't appeared in the last five games makes it obvious that whatever problems there were between Carr and the coaches aren't new.

As they say in Philly, "Good luck, Tasheed. You'll need it."

* * *

Gordy Scoles, a former Iowan who now lives in Bennettsville, S.C., wonders if Drake would be better off going to a non-scholarship, NCAA Division III athletic program instead of continuing to flop around in major-college basketball.

Scoles wrote to me after I pointed out that Drake now has suffered through 19 consecutive seasons of non-winning seasons in men's basketball.

Scoles is a former coach who now is writing books. Here's his e-mail:


"I enjoyed your column about Drake's continuing basketball misfortunes. I wonder if the school has considered joining with the University of Chicago, Washington of St. Louis, Carnegie Mellon and those other elite NCAA Divison III schools? Aren't there over 330 Division I basketball schools and almost 120 Division I-A football schools? Cut the number of basketball schools by two-thirds and the football schools by half, and everyone would be better off....."

Gordy Scoles

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Gordy, I never thought I'd start thinking that Division III might be answer to Drake's basketball frustrations -- but I may be changing my mind. I had the fortune of covering the best men's teams Drake ever had -- in the late 1960s and early 1970s under the coaching of the late Maury John. John's 1968-69 team [which had a 26-5 record] almost knocked off UCLA in the NCAA Final Four at Louisville, and wound up crushing Dean Smith's North Carolina team, 104-84, in the third-place game. I probably was naive in thinking the Drake magic would last forever. But once the incompetent Howard Stacey succeeded John in the Drake job, it was never the same. Bob Ortegel, who followed Stacey, had a couple of good teams and, in Lewis Lloyd, one outstanding player. Gary Garner took one of his Drake teams to the NIT, but it's been all downhill since at Drake. Bulldog fans thought Tom Davis, who was the winningest basketball coach in history at Iowa, might resurrect the Drake program, but now he's had three straight losing seasons -- and it's difficult for even the most optimistic Drake fan to get excited about the future. Attendance is falling, the Missouri Valley Conference is getting better, Drake keeps getting worse. Maybe a non-scholarship program -- which Drake has in football -- would be the answer in basketball. Scoles mentioned Carnegie Mellon University. If you've never heard of it, Carnegie Mellon is a school of 5,000 students in Pittsburgh, Pa. The school got its name in 1965 when Carnegie Tech and the Mellon Institute of Science merged. It fields teams in Division III men's sports basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis and track. It has women's competition in basketball, cross-country, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and volleyball].

* * *

Iowa State and Minnesota continue to do all they can -- which means losing games -- to assure a first-round NIT matchup. They deserve each other. But Creighton had better watch it. It could be that the Bluejays sneak in there as a Cyclone opponent in the NIT -- but at least the game would be in Omaha, where Creighton packs the house.

* * *

Both Mike Mahon and Al Schallau point out a photograph [lower right] making the rounds that shows an obviously grossly overweight Kirby Puckett sitting with Jeff Lantz, public relations director of the local ballcub, at a 2005 fan gathering/autograph session at Drake's Knapp Center.

Puckett's weight had ballooned to 300 pounds or more on his 5-8 frame before he died at 45 of a stroke this week.

Lantz is the nephew of Al Schallau, the attorney/Iowa fan/Southern California fan who now lives in California after growing up in our state.

* * *

"Docile in Des Moines," who points out it isn't his real name, pokes some fun at the Des Moines Register in this e-mail:


"Did you see the story in the paper about the Iowa City cop who cut his hair and sent it off for wigs for little kids? A nice tale. In the body of the story, it said he went back to being a street cop 'recently' — which was after the hair was cut. That’s the only reference to time in the body of the story. But the cutline [under the Register photo that appears on the lower left] says it was in DECEMBER!! I do not doubt that one bit. I am told they hold those 'feature' pieces for days and weeks on end. But running a story in March that was should have been written —- and printed -- in December?!! A new low? God, I am so tickled I do not work there."


"Docile in Des Moines" [Not his real name!]

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Dear Docile, It is very obvious that you expect far too much out of your daily newspaper these days. The golden age of journalism ended the day you walked out of the building].

* * *

"Wise Old Editor From Central Iowa" is also concerned about something that was in the Register. Here's his e-mail:

"I didn't understand Dolph Pulliam's piece on the opinion page Tuesday. He says the attack on Johnny Bright was racist. Wow. We pretty well settled that in 1951. It was racist. Also, Dolph called Johnny the quarterback. In a single wing offense, Johnny was the tailback. He might have called the plays, as Al Coupee did at Iowa in 1939, but he was not the quarterback, and I think in the single wing that spot might have been called blocking back....."

"Wise Old Editor From Central Iowa"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: "Wise Old Editor" knows what he's talking about. That's why he's called "Wise Old Editor.]"

* * *

If I was asked to do a national ranking on collegiate athletic directors who moonlight as major-college basketball referees, Rick Hartzell of Northern Iowa [upper right] would win hands-down.

That's a joke, too.

I've been on record as saying an athletic director has no business officiating basketball games when his own school is trying to win enough games to get into the NCAA tournament.

I had lunch with a guy today who said Hartzell would quit refereeing games if he gets the New Mexico job he has already interviewed for.

"Why doesn't he quit refereeing now?" the guy said.

Oh, well. Whatever, Hartzell is my favorite to become New Mexico's new athletic director.

Somebody named Iliana Limon of the Albuquerque Tribune interviewed Hartzell about the New Mexico job.

Limon made me a little nervous by writing that the University of Northern Iowa is in Cedar Rapids, IA.

It probably makes more than a few people in Cedar Falls nervous, too.

Anyway, here's Limon's story, or part of it, including the part that says UNI's campus is in Cedar Rapids:

"New Mexico fans may not be packing The Pit ,[where the team plays its home games] but Hartzell, 52, said it isn't time to panic.

"'We're competing in a new era where people sit at home with the option of watching 40 games with the click of a button. Everyone is battling to hang onto their fans,' Hartzell told the paper.

"While he would like a closer look at the Lobos' premier sport and cash cow, Hartzell said winning and fielding a team the community can be proud of are the best cures for attendance woes.

"Everyone wants to be part of something they can believe in," he said. "They'll cheer for kids who work hard even if they aren't always winning."

"Hartzell is one of three finalists for the New Mexico job. Current director Rudy Davalos is retiring in August after 13 years at New Mexico.

"The other two finalists are Bowling Green director Paul Krebs and Wichita State director Jim Schaus. A new director at New Mexico is expected to named Monday.

"Hartzell called himself a simple, Iowa farm boy who has been blessed with good fortune and opportunities throughout his career. He promised to be an honest, plain-spoken athletics director who would defer attention to coaches and athletes while remaining accessible to fans and the media.

"Hartzell hails from the mid-major Missouri Valley Conference, but has seen elite conferences at work thanks to his career officiating Division I men's basketball games.

"He sees potential for all New Mexico athletic programs to compete for conference titles in every sport and, in turn, earn national recognition.

"Hartzell said the Mountain West Conference is a strong, well-respected league with solid athletics programs that is relatively free of scandal. He said men's basketball, which is suffering a down year, needs to improve to compete nationally, but other programs, including women's basketball, already have a solid national reputation.

"He said it was important to be realistic about New Mexico's ability to compete with the budgets in excess of $90 million at heavyweight schools like Ohio State and Texas.

"'It's tough, but that's still a battle worth fighting,' he said.

"Hartzell has a strong record of private fund-raising in Cedar Rapids, IA. He said he sees no problem with doing the same for the Lobos despite higher poverty rates in New Mexico.

"'If you've got a medical school, a law school and an architecture school, you've got alumni making good money who will give if they believe in the athletics program," he said. 'You don't have to raise it $100,000 at a time. You just need a little bit from everyone to help your teams compete.'

"Ultimately, Hartzell said he would like to create an atmosphere where athletes are strong students who contribute to the community and remain competitive enough on the court to keep fans happy.

"He said the Lobos' recent string of problems with the law, including the arrest of football player Aleem Harris last week on felony kidnapping and aggravated battery charges, were the responsibility of coaches and the athletes who got into trouble.

"Hartzell said it is important for coaches to recruit athletes with good character....."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Good luck, Rick. I'm confident you'll do well out there -- Albuquerque, not Cedar Rapids].

* * *

And finally.....

Mark Robinson, the Iowa fan from Valencia, CA, writes:

"Hi, Ron,

"As for Alford, I would offer up my free labor to babysit, carry his furniture out to the moving van that I rented, and cook for the whole family so they can make that long, long trip back to Indiana healthy and well nourished. I'll even drive the van.

"Keep writing,"

Mark Robinson
Valencia, CA

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Mark, I'll bet the Alford you're writing about has the first name of Steve. It won't be long now. Keep your fingers crossed].