As the 2008-09 Iowa basketball season comes to an end one can only go blah. At best the Hawkeyes seem headed for some lame so-called postseason such as the NIT or CBI. Most likely it will be a non-NIT tournament since Iowa’s season isn’t even deserving of an NIT invite and it could end up being a stay-at-home affair if they don’t come up on top in this last week of the regular season. Really, I don’t care if this team makes a non-NCAA tournament affair, for I yearn for the days of the Hawks being an annual top-25 program.
Some bright spots in this subpar season was the arrival of super-freshman Matt Gatens. Gatens’ stellar shooting and overall performance in his first college year was possibly the most heralded freshman campaign since Ricky Davis. Another main highlight was the continued improvement of sophomore guard Jake Kelly. Though, his season was up and down with spotty shooting, a sprained ankle, and substitute point guard duty; Kelly has emerged as the best player on the team. The Hawkeyes also displayed tremendous defensive effort and finally sported some new uniforms compared to the AAU scrubs that have been worn the last decade.
The Steve Alford era has still left its stench among the Hawkeye program. Attendance has slowly recovered from all-time lows during his coaching career and the void in talent has never been more evident with the complete lack of depth on this years’ squad. The lack of depth has been even more exposed with an astounding amount of injuries. The most costly injury being senior Cyrus Tate’s sprained ankle that left a gaping hole in the Hawkeye front court which added to the team being one of the worst rebounding squads in the Big Ten.
I knew Todd Lickliter’s second season would be met with great challenges and most likely would end in an NIT bid at best, but a similar record to last year was not expected. The jury is still out on the head coach, and his seven year contract guarantees a long-term tour of duty to right the ship in Iowa City. My hope is his coaching style eventually turns around a proud program with a once sustained tradition of winning.