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Iowa Hoops Will Be Better (Part II – Gatens)

September 30, 2009

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Perhaps one of the biggest downfalls of this Iowa Hawkeye team the past few years has been its passive nature and lack of leadership. When a new coach comes into the program, it can take a while for a player to step up and take control. In Iowa’s case, it did take a few years, but the player turned out to be a true freshman who led by example.

Matt Gaten’s freshman campaign was one of the better seasons in the history of the program for a frosh. He was the only Hawkeye to start every game, and his name will now be entered into the Iowa record book under several categories. He finds himself ahead of former Hawkeye greats such as Dean Oliver, Chris Kingsbury, Roy Marble, Jeff Horner, and Jess Settles, to name a few.

Here’s a look at some of Gaten’s stats and rankings:

Matt shot 90.4% from the charity stripe, setting a single season record for the Hawks, passing Luke Recker’s mark of 88.5% from earlier in the decade. That same Free Throw Percentage was not only one of the best in the Big Ten, but in the entire nation. The minimum number of attempts to make the NCAA rankings is 2.5 FT/g. My calculations put that at a minimum of 80, which Gatens qualified, putting him in the Top 10 in the nation for the season.

Among All-Time Iowa Freshman:
– 1st in Free Throw Percentage (90.4%)
– 2nd in Three Point FG Percentage (40.3%)
– 7th in Scoring (345 Points)

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Among Big-Ten Freshmen (2008-09):
– 1st in Free Throw Percentage (90.4%)
– 1st in Three Point FG Percentage (40.3%)
– 1st in Minutes Per Game (34 min/g)
– 3rd in Scoring (345 Points)

Among All Big Ten Players (2008-09)
– 1st in Free Throw Percentage (90.4%)
– 6th in Three Point FG Percentage (40.3%)
– 7th in Minutes per Game (34 min/g) [5th in Big Ten Games Only]
– Freshman All-American (4th team by Collegehoops.net)

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Let’s be honest, if Iowa is closer to .500 in the Big Ten, Matt Gatens wins the Big Ten Freshman of the Year over William Buford instead of being the runner-up.

While statistics are great, they only go so far to describe the special player Iowa has in Matt Gatens. The intangibles he brings to the team are far more impressive than any stat that can be thrown out there.

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On the court last year, Matt looked nothing like a freshman. Not physically, not mentally, not emotionally. He plays with a passion and drive that coaches respect and fans love. Now with a year under his belt, Gatens knows what to expect coming back for his sophomore season. You can bet that he will step up his leadership role even more this upcoming season. The fire, intensity, and aggressiveness will be there, as well as the experience of a full college season. Look for Matt to expand his role on the team both on and off the court. He is just another reason why Iowa will be better than you think.

And don’t forget, like Superman, Gatens also fights crime. Coincidence? I think not.

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