Lickliter Shines in Handling of Tucker

January 26, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Rob Howe of HawkeyeInsider.com has a good collection of Todd Lickliter quotes related to Anthony Tucker’s status. Click here to read Rob’s entire offering.

When the second Anthony Tucker/alcohol related incident happened back in December, I felt like whatever Todd Lickliter wanted to do, I was going to be comfortable with it.  In my view, that’s not looking at things through black and gold colored glasses, or at least I try to set my personal bias and fandom aside as best I can in situations like this.  My feelings on that were more about my belief that Licklter is the kind of guy that is looking out for the best for the individual.  This isn’t Todd’s first rodeo; he has three grown children and he is in his 50’s.  He’s been a parent for a long time, over half of his life.  Those of you that are parents, you know that causes you to view the world in an entirely different fashion than the way you viewed it before having children.  If you don’t have children, just trust me on that one.

So if Coach Lickliter decided that Tucker being back on the team was in Anthony’s best interest, I felt comfortable with that decision because Todd has a relationship with Anthony and I don’t.  Todd has a far better idea of Anthony Tucker’s needs and well being than I do.  If that meant that Coach Lickliter would have dismissed Tucker, then I would have been fine with that, based on what I just wrote; he has more information than I do on this matter and regarding the person and persons involved.

Some might dismiss that faith as convenient.  But whatever your opinions are on the Iowa basketball program right now, I have not heard anyone say that Lickliter is a bad guy or that he is unfair, or that he has a ‘win at all costs mentality’.  When I say ‘all costs’, I am talking about cutting corners, or putting someone right back on the floor that has let you down, or going against what you believe to be the right course of action.  Even in light of losing your second leading scorer from a team that is in great need of scoring, even in light of your program headed for one of its worst three year runs in its history, I just don’t see Lickliter as the kind of guy that is going to compromise what he believes is right for the sake of two or three more wins right now at the expense of inflicting greater damage to the program down the line.

In reading his comments that Rob put together, it’s clear to me that Todd certainly has more information than we do and he thinks he knows what is not only good for Anthony, but at the same time what is best for his team.

Tucker might not play again this year.  Heck, he might not ever play for Iowa again.  But Todd didn’t kick the kid to the curb and he at least gave him another chance to turn his life around…even if that life might not involve playing college basketball at Iowa…..it still might, but I feel good about the way that Todd has handled this.

“To be quite honest with you, not to take anything away from Anthony, I care about him,” Lickliter said. “This is the most (attention) that’s been directed to him in quite a while. Anthony is going to have to pull himself out of this. It’s up to him. His life is important to us, but there are a lot of important things going on.”

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I think that quote sums it up pretty nicely along the lines I am writing about.  The team cares about Anthony, and they are doing what they think needs to be done for Anthony’s best interest but not at the expense of the greater good of the program Todd is trying to build, where no one man is greater than the team.

That’s a great theme for a book, movie or a song, however you don’t see that put into practice in the day to day as often as the day to day world likely needs it.  Then there is this comment:

“I’ve tried to live a life where you strike a balance,” Lickliter said. “As I told (Tucker) if you’re in the work force, you might not get this opportunity. But student-athletes have their whole lives ahead of them. Earning a degree is a real benefit for a young person as they go through life. I wanted to encourage him to stay on course and earn a degree. That’s what we’re doing.”

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Again, Tucker might not play again for Iowa this year.  Lickliter didn’t rule that out, but he didn’t give any sort of indication on what he might do.  However, he did just give a strong indication that the Iowa basketball program is really interested in the well being of its players, and is not just looking to put numbers in the left hand column for the sake of contract extensions or saving your job, things we see quite often in this line of work.

Iowa has won three of its last four games, the lone loss coming at Michigan State against a team made up of high school All Americans and All Stars.  Iowa was down by 19 points in that game and rallied back to within three points with just :17 seconds to play.  They fought, and they continue to fight.  They believe in one another, and right about now, that belief probably has them playing at a collective level that is above their individual skill sets.  This Iowa team is proving to be an example of wear the sum of the parts is truly greater than the whole.

It’s not going to end with Iowa qualifying for any sort of post season tournament, but if the Lickliter era has a turning point for the better, we may now be witnessing those crossroads moments.  Where a group of kids that were outgunned and outmanned nearly every time they took the floor believed they had a chance to win not because they were superior athletes, but because they felt they could count on one another to just do what each is capable of doing.

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That sort of mentality is also playing itself out off the court in the life of Anthony Tucker.  He has to feel pretty honored to not have been abandoned, even if he isn’t going to suit up on game days.  Or perhaps that sort of revelation will come to Anthony later in life, years after his playing days are done, when he is a father and a husband and gainfully employed thanks in part to a degree he earned at the University of Iowa because his coach knew him better than anyone else, and gave him a third chance to succeed in the game of life.

Because at some point, the band and cheers fade away and they don’t wear your jersey any more.  It will come down to the man in the mirror, and Todd Lickliter is helping Anthony Tucker to mold that man into the best he can be.

Chalk up one more in Todd Lickliter’s win column


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