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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Musings on Iowa Basketball and Dempster's Riches

Iowa's 73-67 victory over Texas-San Antonio was almost an upset from what I gathered from readings at It took a valiant comeback to overtake the Roadrunners (yes, the Roadrunners) who had a 57-54 lead with seven minutes left in the second half. The Hawkeyes showed the flashes of their omnipotent 2007 play by turning over the ball 19 times, which the Roadrunners quickly turned into 27 points in its near upset. I'm becoming a little worried that Lickliter is rushing to put out a competitive team on the floor, while possibly sacrificing the construction of chemistry within his program. I just feel like the players in this program have no pride in wearing the Iowa uniform.
Hopefully the arrival of Iowa City product Matt Gatens will spring a new found passion down the Iowa bench. His 10 points Monday night followed his 15 point debut (second highest point total for Iowa freshman in his first game) against Charleston-Southern. Hawk fans can only pray that his strong early season performances are not a product of the schedule, but Lickliter finally bringing in solid talent. Further good news is the transition of Cyrus Tate from resident big man thrown out into games to take up space by the previous tenure to a full fledged dominating inside presence.
If this team is going to break .500 and enter the NIT, they must get productivity from Jarryd Cole. Aaron Fuller's 2.0 ppg is not going to keep Big 10 teams from focusing on Cyrus Tate. I know Cole tore his ACL, but that was last November. He needs to quickly heal or Iowa is in for certain domination on the boards. Lickliter moved 6-5 Gatens to power forward Monday night to help generate rebounds, but this can't be a long-term solution. Gatens belongs out on the wing using his height to generate open shots over smaller defenders. The freshman will also get more mileage by avoiding the pounding that playing in the interior for his first Big 10 season will generate.

Ryan Dempster signed a 4 year $52 million contract this week. I don't understand the direction Cubs' GM Jim Hendry is trying to forge with this signing? He just told one of the nastiest pitchers (Kerry Wood) in the league to take a hike and then gives a bloated contract to a pitcher who was originally brought in to be the Cubs closer. If the Cubs can throw this much money on an average pitcher coming off a career year, how much can we toss at C.C. Sabathia? Sure, Dempster is coming off a 17 win season and 2.96 E.R.A., but $52 million? My problem with the contract is the fact that I can't see Dempster staying in the phenomenal shape he sported in 2008. His previous four years in Chicago were marred in injury and 4.70 E.R.As. In 2005, Dempster had 33 saves and a 3.13 E.R.A. to originally validate Hendry's belief that he could be a
dominant closer in MLB. The next two seasons would be a different story with Dempster's performance almost leading to a team release.
The Dempster signing is just too risky. Money could have been better invested for more proven pitching products in C.C. Sabathia and Jake Peavy. No matter what Jim Hendry will say, this signing was a panic move from doubt about not signing Kerry Wood, conceding the Sabathia stakes to the AL East, and fears of not completing a trade with San Diego for Jake Peavy.
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