Schwartz Sunday Notes: Bohannon Shines, Cook on the Brink, Gustafson in the Shadows

March 4, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

Today marks one week since Iowa sophomore Jordan Bohannon intentionally missed a free throw to make sure Chris Street stayed in the Hawkeye record book.

The Hawkeyes’ season ended Thursday with an overtime loss to Michigan during the second day of the Big Ten Tournament. Their season is over, a season in which they lost nearly 20 games – the most miserable of Fran McCaffery’s tenure with players that he recruited.

We should be glad it’s over. We are glad it’s over. But we can’t move one, not quite yet, for a good reason, because Bohannon’s gesture deserves one more pause for appreciation.

College basketball is a filthy business. There is no denying this. Some colleges buy players; some coaches look the other way while grifters loot their sport; some players mock the academic mission of higher education by not even bothering to attend class during the spring semester; the NCAA will make a billion dollars off the NCAA Tournament but won’t let a college athlete show up at a car dealership for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to make 500 bucks in exchange for handshakes and selfies.

It’s gross. The NCAA is gross, and men’s basketball is the NCAA’s gooey, puss-filled, gangrened appendage. It always has been.

So please excuse those of us who can’t stop swooning over Bohannon, who missed on purpose. If Bohannon had made the free throw, which would have been his 35th consecutive make, no one would have blamed him. It’s sports. Records fall – even those set by local legends such as Street. Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games streak fell; Walter Payton’s career rushing record fell.

Records fall. It’s sports. It happens. High-level athletes learn how to succeed, how to plunge a dagger into history.

Bohannon chose not to. He saw the bigger picture and did something that, I hope, nobody asked him to do. He kept Chris Street alive.

***

I’m no fortuneteller, but it sure sounds like Tyler Cook’s time at Iowa is winding down. I hope not.

The Hawkeyes need his presence inside, while the NBA doesn’t have much use in 2018 for 6-foot-9 players with games resembling 1997-vintage Antonio Davis.

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As Aaron White continues to show, Cook can make a great living playing at a high level overseas, and if his goal is to get paid for playing basketball, more power to him. Go make that money.

However, if Cook is suffering from envy over the success of his high school running mate, Jayson Tatum, or if someone is whispering in Cook’s ear that the NBA can’t wait to get its hands on him … ugh … then this won’t end well.

There are two best-case scenarios:

1. Cook wants to make money by playing basketball, leaves Iowa, and begins a successful career abroad. It would stink for Hawkeye fans, but it would be great for Cook.

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2. Cook, with eyes for the NBA, tests the NBA waters without an agent, gets some good feedback during the offseason, and returns to Iowa City for his junior season farewell tour – a campaign that includes a much, much improved and consistent mid-range and/or outside shot.

***

On Monday, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced its 10 semifinalists for the 2018 Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year.

Iowa’s Megan Gustafson did not make their list.

On Friday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame named its five finalists for the Lisa Leslie Award, which goes to the nation’s top center.

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Iowa’s Megan Gustafson did not make their list.

I have no idea what to write here. The U of Iowa athletic department has promoted her. She leads the country in scoring. She leads the Big Ten in rebounding. She led the Hawkeyes, damaged by injuries, to 24 wins.

Does Iowa women’s hoops suffer from national anonymity? Is this a case of voters simply not being aware of Gustafson?

I don’t know. Does anyone? It’s beyond ridiculous.

At least a little good news came her way Saturday. She’s one of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding women’s basketball player.

Finally, a voting body with a little common sense.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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