All four Big Four men's basketball teams lost on Saturday, but UNI's loss at Bradley is the biggest head-scratcher. The Panthers entered with the second-best scoring defense in the country at 55 points per game, yet the Braves scored 45 points in the second half alone. UNI fans shouldn't get too worked up though... sometimes a loss before the stretch run can be a good thing. Besides, the Panthers will still clinch their first outright MVC regular season title in school history with their next win, or Wichita St.'s next loss.
LaRon Dendy missed his second-straight game Saturday, and that's disconcerting. Dendy reportedly returned to his native South Carolina on Monday following the death of his great-grandmother. The funeral was Thursday, and based on similar circumstances with other college athletes, it's unusual that Dendy wasn't back with the team for Saturday's loss at top-ranked Kansas. To be fair, everyone handles grief differently. Greg McDermott was pretty much forced to use a six-player rotation. Not surprisingly, the Jayhawks eventually wore down the Cyclones.
Talk about a stark contrast... the difference between the Boilermakers and Hawkeyes was startling. Purdue is long, athletic, and incredibly physical. Iowa was no match for the sixth-ranked Boilers. Purdue won by 23, which is pretty mis-leading, and not in a good way. Rumors about player transfers are already beginning to swirl. Todd Lickliter can't afford another mass exodus.
One week after becoming Drake's all-time leading scorer, Josh Young becomes Drake's all-time leading three-point shooter. But the Bulldogs have still lost five of their last six games. A week ago, I felt strongly the Dogs could make some noise in St. Louis. I no longer feel the same way.
How about something positive to end on? Bill Fennelly is lauded often for his coaching acumen, but Fennelly may be in the midst of his best coaching job yet. The Cyclones accumulated wins early and often thanks to a soft non-conference schedule, but I was certain they'd get chewed up in the Big 12. I couldn't have been more wrong. I'd nominate Fennelly for a lifetime contract at Iowa State, but he already has one.
Peace and Pearl Jam,