Hello again,  Hawk fans!  On a personal note, I have been under the weather all of this past week.  I’m slowly starting to improve, but that’s why I’ve been missing in action the past week.  A lot to catch up on, so let’s make it a March Madness edition of Random Hash.

Hawkeye Basketball

Like Hawkeye fans everywhere, I was very disappointed in Iowa’s inability to close out Michigan State on Friday.  The Hawkeyes certainly didn’t get any help from the officials – how a team as physical as Michigan State can reach the end of the second half with only five team fouls is anyone’s guess, and I have yet to see a good reason why Aaron White’s clean block of a Michigan State shot with under thirty seconds left in the game was called a foul.

Despite all that, the game against the Spartans seemed like a rerun.  These Hawks have repeatedly blown big leads and come up short in close games.  I’m guessing that youth is playing a large role in that.  I also think that the Hawks lack the one consistent offensive player that would put this team over the top.  When Michigan State was making their run in the second half, Iowa needed a player who could take the ball on three straight possessions and either draw a double team (getting an open shot for a teammate) or take his man one on one and get a basket or draw a foul.  I love White and Devyn Marble, but neither one has shown this year to have that capability.

I think it’s important, however, to take a step back and realize how much progress Hawkeye basketball has made under Coach Fran McCaffery.  In his first season at Iowa, the Hawkeyes really struggled.  Last year, Iowa was a borderline NIT team that made it into that tournament with a seven seed.  This year, Iowa is a borderline NCAA tourney team that, frankly, deserved better than a #3 seed in the NIT.  And with a very young squad, next year the Hawks should be even better.

Believe it or not, only once since 1999 have the Hawks traveled to the Big Ten Tournament assured of a trip to the NCAA tourney, no matter what (that was in 2006, of course).  Iowa needs to get back to that level so that no single conference tourney game decides their postseason fate.

College Football Data Warehouse

For college football stats, my site of choice has always been College Football Data Warehouse.  The Iowa section of that site is always linked at the right under other essential links, and it’s a wealth of Hawkeye-related information.

As it turns out, that site is run by David DeLassus and Tex Noel, a couple of guys I’ve been fortunate enough to have some contact with the past few weeks.  Noel, in particular, is a college football historian and author who also serves as the executive director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.  These are two great guys who love college football as much as I do!

DeLassus and Noel have been nice enough to create a page for my college football books on their site!  Right now only my book on Duke Slater is listed, but more are to come, I’m sure!  You can find my page on the left hand side of the main page of College Football Data Warehouse under Historical College Football Books.  Thanks to DeLassus and Noel for their support, and be sure to check out their site for all of your college football statistics needs.

Dave Hamilton

I need to take a moment and salute a true Hawkeye treasure.  Dave Hamilton of Grinnell passed away last week at the age of 83.  Hamilton was a huge Hawkeye fan, known throughout Grinnell and the rest of the state as one of Iowa’s most ardent supporters.

Here’s just one classic Dave Hamilton story I found online.  Hamilton attended the NCAA Regional Tournament in Dayton, Ohio, in 1970.  Coach Ralph Miller’s Hawkeyes were, quite possibly, the greatest basketball team in Iowa history.  Sadly, as most Hawkeye fans know, that trip ended in disappointment – and Jacksonville’s Pembrook Burrows III secured his spot in the Hawkeye Hall of Infamy – as the Hawks were bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Anyway, Kentucky was another team playing at that same regional.  Kentucky’s legendary coach, Adolph Rupp, was standing courtside, watching his team warm up in a pre-tourney practice session.  Hamilton took that opportunity to strike up a conversation with Rupp.  When he told Rupp that he was from Grinnell, Rupp noted that he coached high school wrestling for one season at nearby Marshalltown High School.  Here’s how great a coach Rupp was – he knew virtually nothing about the sport of wrestling other than what he gleaned from a book on the subject, yet he led Marshalltown High to a state wrestling championship in 1926!  Rupp recalled that he took Marshalltown High down to Grinnell to play Grinnell High in the old armory building in the town’s square, a location now occupied by Pagliai’s Pizza.

Dave Hamilton had a million of those stories.  He founded Hamilton Travel in Grinnell and led Hawk fans on dozens of bowl trips.  My parents live in Grinnell, so they knew Hamilton well…as everyone in town did.  Dave Hamilton always asked my folks about my writing and my books when he saw them, and I greatly appreciated his enthusiasm and support.  He will be greatly missed, not only around Grinnell but by Hawkeye fans everywhere.

Press Section

Finally, I have made one important change to this site.  I have had a Reviews tab since this site began, but as I’ve been mentioning recently, I want to recognize sources that have acknowledged my books but which don’t technically qualify as “reviews”.

So I now have an expanded Press section on the site!  Not only does it cover the reviews that my books have received, but it will also recognize other press for my books.  I’m excited about the change, and I hope you guys like it as well!

That’s all for now…thanks for reading!

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