Howe’s Friday 5: Hoops Prediction, Xavier Foster, November That Matters
IOWA CITY, Iowa – We’ve hit the Iowa football-basketball overlap that those of us in the media like to call silly season. Thursday and Sunday are the only days this week when we won’t spend time with one of those two squads. In there is a trip to Madison.
I’m not complaining. It’s a fun time of year with a lot to discuss.
Here are five items at the top of my list:
-On Monday morning, Xavier Foster announces his college decision. The eyes of the Hawkeye and Cyclone Nations will be focused on Oskaloosa High as the four-star seven-footer picks between the in-state rivals.
I’ve already witnessed some nonsense between the fans bases on social media. I was worried that.
I get it. The passion for athletics at these two schools is to be admired and valued. But, there’s a line.
Please, please, please try staying behind it after Foster reveals his choice. He’s a high school senior selecting where he believes he best fits. He’s not trying to offend you.
I know this request will fall on some deaf ears. Some people are asses. They can’t help themselves. It’s the world in which we live. Idiots have voices.
I feel bad, in part, because Xavier is a great kid from a solid family. He shies away from attention. And circumstances are placing him in the crosshairs of the Hatfields and McCoys.
-Staying on the basketball topic, the Hawkeyes tip off the regular season Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against SIU-Edwardsville. They come back Monday playing host to DePaul in the Gavitt Games.
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I don’t like to make basketball predictions this early. We know little about this team and the season lasts longer than the industrial sized barrel of cheese balls from Costco.
Instead of picking which games I think Iowa will win and lose, I’ll share general thoughts on how I see the campaign playing out. And I certainly reserve the right to change that opinion once we get through the tough non-conference slate.
Off the top, I do not see this being an NCAA Tournament team. That’s not going out on a limb considering the loss of three excellent players and the unknown status of sharp-shooter Jordan Bohannon from a team that finished 10-10 in the league last year.
A finish in the middle of a tough league seems a reasonable expectation with so many role changes.
-I wrote in this space last week that Saturday’s Iowa-Wisconsin football game will contribute greatly to quarterback Nate Stanley’s legacy. It stretches beyond the senior, however.
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It just feels like an enormous opportunity for the program. The Badgers own the Hawkeyes this decade. And a loss knocks the latter out of the West Division race, for all intents and purposes.
Iowa will be breaking in a new starting quarterback next season. You have to figure, at minimum, AJ Epenesa and Tristan Wirfs leave early for the NFL. The crossover games included Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State in successive weeks with two of those coming on the road.
The time is now for this Hawkeye program. It comes into Saturday having lost by a whisker to ranked opponents Michigan and Penn State. There’s just not a large talent disparity between it and the Badgers.
No excuses. Anything less than a division title this season is underachieving.
-This one probably won’t excite many of you out there, but winning a share of a Big Ten regular-season title is a heck of an accomplishment for Iowa field hockey. You may remember this program dealt with some controversy not long ago.
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After firing former coach Tracey Griesbaum in 2014, the university ended up settling discrimination law suits brought by her and her partner, former administrator Jane Meyer. They won $6.5M from Iowa.
The field hockey team, once a power back in the ’90s, healed under head coach Lisa Cellucci, a former Hawkeye player. She won the conference coach of the year award this year after gradually rebuilding the program.
It’s a good story, one that deserves some credit.
-It’s November, which means bowl prediction season kicks into high gear. A few outlets tab Iowa for the Gator Bowl. That’s not happening because Iowa already played there and it can’t take the same Big Ten team twice.
If the season finishes with Iowa winning the three games in which it’s favored and losing as an underdog in Wisconsin, we’re probably looking at the Holiday Bowl. Even if it loses twice, the San Diego event probably takes it.
Bigger things are out there for the Hawkeyes, however. A West Division title could be the Citrus Bowl or a New Years 6 Bowl.
HawkeyeNation.com’s Rob Howe has covered Iowa Hawkeye sports for 23 years and began working at HawkeyeNation.com in 2003. Please follow @RobHoweHN and @HawkeyeNationHQ on Twitter.