Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DJK CUT, No Thrones, Tweet Confession

  • The Barnstormers paraded Derrell Johnson-Koulianos around so much when they signed him, it seemed he was the new face of the franchise. It's one of many reasons I was stunned the Stormers cut DJK. Head coach Mike Hohensee told me DJK just wasn't picking up the indoor game, and there were no off-field issues. Derrell also stayed on high road, but reading between the lines, I wonder if his heart was truly in it (or if the effort was). The CFL provides a last chance at pro football...
  • Being undefeated doesn't mean you won't be one-and-done at state. Three previously perfect girls teams are already out...
  • Congratulations to Waukee, Valley, Ankeny and all the boys teams who just made reservations for the Iowa boys state centennial celebration. 100 years. Impressive...
  • Indiana looks like a mediocre basketball team much of the time, but the Hoosiers have now beaten three top five teams...
  • I don't get the Game of Thrones phenomena...
Andy Fales loves this.
  • I tried to support NBC, and I've seen the great reviews, but Smash isn't for me...
  • My friend Andrew Downs just sent out a tweet that reads, "Just went to musical, Bring It On. No my account hasn't been hacked." I think it might actually be him...
In Des Moines.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

36 Hours of Daytona

36 Hours of Daytona just won't end. It's been chaotic and riveting at the same time. Fast cars, death-defying crashes, and a track on fire were just a few of the action movie staples. When Juan Pablo Montoya slammed into a truck carrying jet fuel, it became a Die Hard movie...
Emergency workers try to put out a fire after Juan Pablo Montoya's car struck the truck during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Monday.
Where's John McClain? (Courtesy Associated Press)

Brad Keselowski started texting from his car. Presumably while it's parked. Distracted driving is a hazard to us all while going 30 miles an hour. No one should try it at 195...

The night race is cool. There's no doubt a prime time race created much more buzz. However, a perfect storm of time-delaying elements are making it hard for anyone to see the end...

It's frustrating when there's a lengthy delay to dry the track---as one viewer pointed out, we were literally watching asphalt dry---but when racing resumes, Fox quickly cuts to a commercial break. I get that those sponsors paid for ads during races, but goodness...

I like the Kirk Ferentz hire of Greg Davis to run the Hawkeye offense (well, to assist Ferentz running the Iowa offense). Iowa needs new energy and ideas, and Davis should bring both after 13 years at Texas, and one year off from coaching...

The NFL is, by far, the most dominating force on television now. Five NFL playoff games rated higher than the Oscars or Grammys, and the Super Bowl had more viewers than the Oscars and Grammys combined. Staggering. These days, some of us watch the NFL just to see guys run 40 yard dashes in body suits...

Iowa State still didn't crack the top 25. Main thing holding ISU back: just one win against a team rated in the RPI top 40 (Kansas)...

I knew if I kept typing we'd have a winner. Matt Kenseth takes the checkered flag, Dale Earnhardt Junior second. I don't care for that teammate blocking stuff, but Greg Biffle put the team first. Glad we all made it to the end...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Iowa Out, Iowa State In, Oscar Wrap

It was the longest of long shots that Iowa, with it's low RPI, could even play its way onto the NCAA tourney bubble, but any hope burst with the loss at Illinois. If only Matt Gatens had more help. What a week Gatens had...

The Cyclones are in. They're playing for a higher seed now. It wasn't always pretty, but a gritty win at Kansas State will work fine...

Scott Christopherson made a three from the freaking Wildcat logo. And it looked easy...

The NBA slam dunk contest needs a reboot. The stars won't do it, and the contest is stale...

I love that Kevin Durant won All-Star MVP. Durant goes to All-Star weekend and takes part in contests, spends time with fans---he just gets it...
Kobe Bryant (24) of the Western Conference shoots while playing against the Eastern Conference team during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.
No defense. (Courtesy Getty Images)
Nightmare for NASCAR. The rain really dampens the sport's showcase event. Can't believe that's the first time...

Props to Danica Patrick. She slammed that wall hard Thursday, and bounced right back to take the Nationwide poll Friday. She's tough...

I thought the Oscars were mostly dull. Billy Crystal worked hard, but I think there's only so much you can do when the big winners are The Artist and Hugo. I see a lot of movies, and I haven't seen either. I have no desire to see a black and white silent movie. I would like to see Hugo, but could never get the kids interested...

Meryl Streep should have more than two Oscars, but I really wanted Viola Davis to win for The Help. Davis has a quiet moment at the beginning of that movie, when the reporter asks her if she ever had dreams of her own. Davis indicates yes, without ever speaking. The heartbreak and sacrifice is written all over her face. Brilliant...
Viola Davis.
Robert Griffin III is going to be the face of some lucky franchise. The guy has everything you'd want in a quarterback, including charisma...
Baylor QB Robert Griffin is fast becoming a hot commodity after Sunday’s performance at NFL Combine. Getty
RG3 (Courtesy Getty Images)
I can't believe how much NFL combine I watched. Or what they make these guys wear...

I may not be over the sight of B-Ross in a Grand View singlet any time soon...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ticket Punched, Poor Drake, Zusevics Done

By Chris Hassel

Ticket punched. For the 7th straight year, the Cyclones won't be sweating out on 'Selection Sunday' --- that's because they all but locked up an at-large big on Saturday. ISU's 65-61 victory at Kansas State was perhaps the most impressive win of the season for the Cyclones. K-State was one of the hottest teams in the nation, coming off back-to-back wins over top 10 teams. Iowa State was able to withstand a 20-1 run, and improved to 21-8 on the season. Now, with two games to play in the regular season, all they're playing for is seeding. If Iowa State can win one of its final two games, and one game in the tournament, they'll be able to avoid that dreaded 8/9 match-up. Next up, a trip to #3 Missouri.
Scott Christopherson scored 29 points in a 65-61 win at K-State.
Despite the fact that Royce White is the only player in college basketball to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals, you could make the case that Scott Christopherson is the teams' MVP. When the Cyclones need a bucket, or a free-throw, it's Scotty C. He, like Iowa's Matt Gatens, will be sorely missed for their respective teams, next season. 

Some Iowa haters are legitimately trying to argue that the Hawkeyes have "no chance" at making the NCAA Tournament unless they win the Big Ten Tournament. That's just ridiculous. So you're telling me that if the Hawks win out, and then loses in the Big Ten title game, they couldn't get in? They'd be 21-14 overall with an 8-game winning streak at the end of the season. Let's get real. They have a chance, but they must win out. I honestly don't see that happening. Iowa just doesn't win at Illinois. If they can beat the Illini, Sunday, I'll start believing. 

Poor Drake. The Bulldogs finish the regular season in the tie for 3rd in the MVC yet thanks to a 5-team tiebreaker, Drake gets the 7-seed in the MVC Tournament. That means Drake will have to play Bradley on Thursday. UNI tied Drake at 9-9 overall, but the Panthers get the 4-seed and a first round bye. Ouch. The Panthers will be a tough out, but I don't see anyone beating Wichita State.

It was an awful day for former Hawkeye, Markus Zusevics. The offensive lineman tore his pectoral muscle while benching in front of NFL scouts. Zusevics was supposed to be drafted somewhere around the 5th round. Now there's a question of whether or not he'll be drafted at all. What a tough break.
Markus Zusevics
Z's former teammate, Riley Reiff, is also having a tough time of it at the combine. Some scouts are saying Reiff's arms are too short to play tackle in the NFL. Plus, several people are poking fun at Reiff's pokey body. After watching him run the 40-yard dash, one writer said he looked like he was on the Jay Cutler diet.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Postseason Prognosis for ISU and Iowa

By Chris Hassel

Iowa's chances of climbing onto the NCAA Tournament bubble are slim, but there is a chance. The Hawks have to win at Illinois, at Nebraska, and home against Northwestern to close the season. If they do, they'll definitely be in contention. I don't see the Hawks winning at Illinois, but after years of being irrelevant on the college basketball scene, Iowa fans have hope --- something they haven't had in 6 years.

While Iowa closes with 3 games against teams below them in the standings, ISU closes with 3 of the Big 12's best teams. It's quite possible that the Cyclones could lose all 3 games. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Iowa won out, and ISU lost out. Both teams would have identical 10-8 conference records, with the edge going to Iowa given that the Big Ten is a tougher conference this season. ISU would be 20-11 overall, while the Hawks would be 18-13 with several really bad loses, and an awful RPI. However, it would be hard to overlook the fact that one team has beaten 4 top-25 teams, and closed the season on a 5-game winning-streak....while the other has just 1 top-25 win, and would close (theoretically) on a 3-game losing-streak. I think those two resumes would be very hard to choose between. The hot team has shown it can beat really good teams, and lose to really bad teams. The cold team has shown it doesn't lose games it's supposed to win, but it also doesn't pull many upsets. All that being said, I'd say there's about a 3% chance that actually happens. I still say the Cyclones have to win one more game, any game, to make the NCAA tourney. 

I thought the Valley Tigers would be next to unstoppable on the basketball court this year, but that hasn't been the case. The Tigers, who began the year ranked in the top-3, lost 3 of their last 5 games to end the regular season. Then, on Friday in the Substate semifinals, Lincoln (11-11 on the season) pushed the Tigers to overtime. Valley survived --- but barley. As we see all the time in sports, talent doesn't always equal wins.

The Grand View men are in the MCC championship game, and they're playing my St. Ambrose Fighting Bees. St. Ambrose has won 14 straight. Grand View has no chance. In case you don't know how excited I get about Fighting Bees basketball, take a listen to my student tv call of a last-second win over William Penn from 2007.

Man On Fire, Braun Cleared, Pizza Fail

Watching the Hawkeyes in the first half against Wisconsin was like going back in time. That's the way Iowa used to score, and the way Carver-Hawkeye Arena used to rock. It felt like a big night for the future of Iowa basketball...

Matt Gatens wants to play in the post-season in the worst way. He's doing his part. Thursday night, Gatens had one of those special performances where you call or text your buddy to make sure he doesn't miss it. Gatens finished the win over Indiana with seven straight threes, and added another five in a row against Wisconsin. 12 consecutive three-pointers is difficult in a gym with no one else in the building. Gatens did it against two top 25 teams---on Matt Gatens bobblehead night no less...
Man on Fire.
I have many people asking if the Hawks win out, will they make the NCAA tourney? If Iowa wins the next three, the Hawks finish with 10 Big Ten wins in, arguably, the strongest conference. That and a win or two in the Big Ten tourney should at least put Iowa on the bubble. I don't see it happening, but at least it's possible. NIT is the pick here...

Ryan Braun wins his appeal and MLB releases a statement that it "vehemently disagrees with the decision". Keep in mind, that's MLB saying it believes the NL MVP should be suspended 50 games---not exactly a PR bonanza. I don't know if Braun took performance enhancing drugs, but I do know Major League Baseball strongly believes he did. Braun had a good attorney, found a serious flaw in the testing delivery, and used it to win his appeal. If testing protocol isn't followed properly, the system doesn't work. Braun had the right to appeal. I don't think it means he's innocent or guilty, but he now deserves the benefit of the doubt...
Brewers just got a lot better. (Courtesy Bleacher Report)
It did snow...

Fast Signs made this cutout for us. I look like I'm about to fold sweaters at The Gap. At least I'm not wearing a sweater vest...
Andy is tall.

I went to Gusto Pizza with my wife and in-laws. They ordered before I got there on dinner break. Her parents got an awesome pizza (Spartacus) while Jenny picked one for us I'd never order (Stallion). I may never be over it...
Aphrodite Pizza
Not Spartacus.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Iowa State now good enough to look bad and win

Iowa State didn't show up for the first half against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders out-hustled the Cyclones for 20 minutes. Fortunately for ISU, the Cyclones have so much more talent than Tech, they were only down four. Fred Hoiberg generally stays calm, but I imagine Hoiberg gave his players two earfuls at halftime. The Cyclones woke up, and blew out Tech by 18. A 22 point swing. You won't see many less impressive routs. The positive is Iowa State has reached a point where it can take a half off and still cruise against a bad team...

The Cyclones are likely in the NCAA tournament right now. They have 20 wins overall, and more importantly, 10 in the conference (first time in 10 years). A 21st win makes ISU a lock, and the Cyclones can improve seeding if the total climbs (file that under "duh"). The Clones have now clinched a Big 12 tourney bye...

Congratulations to the Des Moines Register for winning the Associated Press Sports Editors triple crown. I start every day with the sports secton. Not online either. I like to hold the actual newsaper...

Forbes reports all Gannett newspapers, including the Register, plan paywalls for digital content by the end of the year. There will be much resistance to this idea, but other companies will soon follow. We've all grown used to the idea of getting our online news for free, but the people providing it don't work for free...

Former Register sports columnist Sean Keeler is leaving Iowa for a job with Fox Sports Midwest in Kansas City. Keeler wrote his goodbye to Iowa column in Cityview, and it's not boring:

Hold the phone! Ed now says 6 inches of snow possible in the metro Thursday. Wait, what?!
Have you seen this video of the fight who knocks himself out?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

School Rocks, Kelly Rocks, Pop Rocks

Ms. Cain and Colin. He's holding a story he wrote. It was legit too!
Tuesday was parent-teacher conference day. Colin usually gets a report that goes something like, "Colin is a bright boy with a big personality. And though we enjoy his sense of humor, he does on occasion cross the line to inappropriate. Does he have have older brothers? (nodding yes) Well, take for example this poem he wrote. Roses are red. Violets are Blue..." I'll stop there.
This year, Ms. Cain gave Colin an across-the-board rave, and though I'm proud, there's a small part of me that will miss those stories of, "Did you hear what Colin said this time?"...

The Iowa State women's basketball team averages more than 10,000 fans a game at Hilton. That figure, according to ISU, is second in the nation, and a number many men's team would welcome...

The Cyclones NCAA tournament hopes were on life support down 11 in the second half, but ISU rallied to beat Missouri in overtime. Bill Fennelly has brought this team back from the brink several times...

Look out for K-State in the men's Big 12 tourney. That's a team no one wants to play. Ask Missouri...

Iowa State and Iowa doing away with the home-and-homes versus Drake and UNI just flat out stinks. I don't care how much hype the Big 4 tourney generates, the last thing we need is fewer interesting games in November and December...

Todd Lickliter tells the Dayton Daily News he believes the corner was turned at Iowa, and it would have worked. I think the only thing around that corner was denial. Nice guy, bad fit...

Photographer Brandon McCauley, the pride of Nevada, was walking around the newsroom belting out Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" tonight. I kept his name out of it for a while, but he deserves credit for saying: "Damn you Kelly Clarkson and your catchy songs!".  He's right. Plus, Kelly did us proud with the Super Bowl National Anthem. It's not like Brandon was walking around singing Taylor Swift, like someone whose name rhymes with tassle...

Remember Pop Rocks? I can't believe I used to eat those by the bag. Someone spread a rumor back in the day that if you ate the Pop Rocks with soda, you'd explode. Well, better than the Bubble Yum rumor...

Guilty Pleasure, Manny Being Manny, Buzz Will Punch You In The Face

  • Finally watching the new Celebrity Apprentice---hey, NBC helps pay the bills---and this is a full bag of mixed nuts, or as they're classified here, celebrities. This show is an instantly forgettable guilty pleasure.
Know many of these people?
  • Adam Carolla is one funny guy. If you haven't read "In 50 Years, We'll All Be Chicks", I highly recommend it (not for kids).

  • Saturday Night Live with Myra Rudolph as guest host was terrific.
  • The A's signed Manny Ramirez. Why? He no longer can hit, even with steroids, which oh by the way, he'll have to sit out 50 games. Again.
  • Matt Gatens told me he still thinks the Hawks can make the NCAA tournament. He's right, if Iowa doesn't lose, which isn't going to happen. I wish it would. Gatens has played his heart out for four years and never played a post-season game. 
  • The story on our news about those abused dogs breaks my heart. How can people have such a dark heart? Anyway, thanks to the people who are helping nurse those dogs back to health, and to those who will provide a home.
  • Do not tell Buzz Aldrin the moon landing wasn't real.

  • Andy Fales' story on Presidents Day was a lot of fun. If you missed it, I'm sure it's somewhere on Andy is a good writer.
  • If you're on twitter, please don't ask for retweets. All your followers thank you in advance.
  • Dan McCarney stayed in the hospital less than a week after suffering a stroke. Glad to hear Mac's doing well. Hopefully it wasn't the Grey Goose.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gatens Delivers, Meeks' Manners, Bad Service

Good Iowa showed up Sunday night. The Hawks dominated #18 Indiana. Make it three wins over top 20 teams...

Matt Gatens played for some bad Iowa teams, and he's likely leaving with no post-season appearances, but Gatens is underrated. He scored 30 against Indiana---seven threes---and it perplexes me when Hawk fans say the only player they're losing next year is Gatens, like he's easily replaceable. He's not...

Melsahn Basabe is a microcosm of Iowa's season. When he shows up and plays hard, he's really good. When he doesn't, he looks bad. Same for the team...

Royce White leads Iowa State in nearly every statistical category, but he was mostly quiet Saturday, and the Cyclones still had no problem with Oklahoma. Good sign...

Melvin Ejim has to be smarter than he was Saturday...

I watched my first start-to-finish Jeremy Lin game when the Knicks hosted the Mavericks. He was good, and the game was fun...

Roosevelt's John Meeks sat in the Cave with B-Ross on SoundOFF. Meeks is being congratulated far and wide for his four state titles and undefeated career (168-0), and he should be. It's a staggering accomplishment. However, after watching him wrestle several times and witnessing his sportsmanship, then seeing him at the television station and observing his manners, his parents deserve props too. They did a great job...

More calls and emails on girls wrestling. It's obvious many people still don't like the idea...

One of life's frustrations: seeing several empty tables at a restaurant, but waiting 15 minutes before being seated...

I saw "Safe House". Intense, exciting, violent. Denzel Washington is at his charismatic best, and Ryan Reynolds ups his game. Recommended for action fans...

Did I mention violent?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

ISU Rolls Without Royce, Ferentz Hires Ferentz

By Chris Hassel

For the 8th time this season, Royce White failed to score in double-digits for Iowa State --- and the Cyclones improved to 8-0 in those games. That says a couple things. One....Iowa State isn't a one-man team. Two...Royce White can be effective even when he doesn't score. ISU did what it needed to do against OU. Now it's time to do the same against Texas Tech, Wednesday. 
I can't tell if this little Cyclone is excited, or really angry.
What in the heck happened to Illinois? Nebraska went on a 34-4 run against the Illini, today. Nebraska! Bruce Weber may be fired before he sets foot on the team plane at the Lincoln Airport.

Iowa plays another 5pm Sunday game, tomorrow. Am I the only one that hates these? Unless it's a huge game, college basketball doesn't belong on Sunday's, especially at 5pm. I wouldn't have a problem with it if it only happened a couple times a year, but it seems to be becoming the norm.

Drake would be fine if it never again traveled West for a basketball game. Just a couple months after losing by 46 at Boise State, the Dogs got drubbed at New Mexico State in the Bracketbuster game.

For the 25th consecutive year, Saturday night at the state wrestling championships is sold out. John Meeks will be taking the mat sometime around 7:30pm in hopes of becoming the 6th person to finish his career unbeaten, with 4 state titles. I don't see any way he loses.

Kirk Ferentz hired his own son to be Iowa's offensive line coach. Brian Ferentz must be an up-and-comer if he had already ascended to tight ends coach in New England. In addition, Ferentz hired LeVar Woods as the teams' new linebackers coach. I like the moves. A new infusion of young blood into the program...not to mention they're both former Hawkeyes. The only position left to fill is the offensive coordinator position.
Father and son will reunite on the Iowa sideline this fall.
I made the mistake of leaving my Twitter account open at work again. For some reason, Andy and our photog Brandon McCauley think it's cool to post dumb comments and attack other tweeters on my account. Andy did it a couple weeks ago, and I got him back reeeal good. Brandon has no idea what's about to hit him.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Black is Back, Meeks on the Brink, Lucky 21 for ISU

By Chris Hassel

Megan Black did it again. A day after becoming the first girl to beat a boy in a contested match at the Iowa State Wrestling Meet, becomes the first girl to ever medal at the meet. After barley losing her quarterfinal round match, Black returned to win her first consolation match. That ensures that she will be on the medal stand, Saturday night.

Roosevelt's John Meeks is one win from making history of his own. The senior is 167-0, and a victory in tomorrow's finals from finishing his career unbeaten. Meeks would become only the sixth wrestler in Iowa history to finish his career unbeaten, with 4 state titles. His dad, Keith, told Zach Borg that it would be even more special to the Meeks family because John would become the first African-American to accomplish the feat --- and during Black History Month no less.

You have to feel for Cory Clark. The Southeast Polk wrestler is also one win from a 4th straight state title, but he isn't unbeaten. Clark lost earlier in the year to Iowa City West's Jack Hathaway, who Clark beat in the quarterfinals today. The senior says his regular season loss was probably a good thing in the long run. It's good to see Clark using such a tough defeat as a positive.

Northern Iowa got the short end of the stick on some calls down the stretch at VCU. I've never seen Ben Jacobson so upset. If the Panthers keep playing like they've been playing, lately, they'll be a tough out in the Valley Tournament. UNI needs to finish strong if it wants to nab an invite from the NIT.

The Cyclones have a couple ho-hum home games coming up. Saturday, ISU hosts 9th-place Oklahoma before hosting last-place Texas Tech on Wednesday. You can look at the games in one of two ways.
1 - Two easy wins which Iowa State desperately needs as it moves towards an NCAA tourney berth
2 - A no-win situation. These are games everyone expects Iowa State to win, and win big, and anything less than a blowout will be unacceptable. 

Unfortunately, I'm leaning towards number 2. I'm not excited in the least for these two games. The Cyclones need to win, and look good doing it. If they somehow drop of these games, their NCAA hopes may go by the wayside. Here's how I'm looking at the final few weeks of the season for ISU. I think the 'Clones will win these next two games, lose on the road at Kansas State and Missouri, and then beat Baylor at home in the regular season finale. If that happens, ISU is in the tournament no matter what happens in the Big 12 tourney.

However, even if the Cyclones win these next two games, I think they need one more win to guarantee a selection. The committee isn't going to be too fond of a team on a 4-game losing streak going into the post-season. Loses at K-State, Missouri, home to Baylor, and in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tourney would likely send the Cyclones to the NIT. Basically what Iowa State needs to do is get to 21 wins...somehow, some way. 21 wins in any fashion, against any of the remaining teams will get them in. But first things first --- they need to take care of biz in these two easy games at home.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Black is Back, Iowa is Late, Bacon is Good

Megan Black is a good wrestler. Not a good wrestler for a girl. A good wrestler...
Megan Black. (Photo by Des Moines Register)
John Meeks is 165-0. Staggering...
John Meeks (Photo by Des Moines Register)
Parents of a 9-year old hockey player in Massachusetts are getting legal representation because they're upset the league wouldn't stop a game to honor their son when he scored his 200th goal. This kid doesn't have a chance...

LeBron James says he can see himself playing for Cleveland again. LeBron must be tired of Jeremy Lin getting all the attention...

Iowa finally woke up and started playing at Penn State, but it was too late. Not even five straight threes by Matt Gatens could overcome a 16 point deficit. Gatens deserves a postseason. Looking less likely he'll get one...

Hard to believe Gary Carter is gone, and gone way too soon at 57. My first thought of Carter is always the '86 World Series. I wanted the Red Sox to win, but the Mets would not go away...

RIP Gary Carter
I'm supposed to design a pizza for a Gusto bracket contest. I love Canadian bacon and sauerkraut, but no way that's winning...

The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival sold out in less than 20 minutes. That's nearly 5,000 tickets for Saturday's big event. Brooks Reynolds dropped by some bacon today---delicious---and some bacon flavored gelato. It kind of tasted almond flavored. Not bad, but if I want bacon flavor, I want it from bacon, not ice cream...
I saw Brian Brown at my son's basketball game. Drake Relays is lucky to have Brian. He's busy right now too. Olympic year...
Brian Brown

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hope for Spring, TCU Arrives, Total Consciousness (which is nice)

The Iowa Cubs' Scott Sailor sent this picture from Principal Park. I love it. It's always nice to welcome our visitors from Canada...

I can't wait for baseball season. My two young kids can't either. Spurred by Zach Borg's memories of his dad pulling him out of school and taking him to a baseball game, and my grandfather doing the same, I surprised both Cade and Colin with an I-Cubs game last April. Got the go-ahead from their teachers first, of course. The kids haven't forgotten either. They bring it up about once a week. I've already told Cade he better bring that math grade up or no cold baseball for him...

Nashua-Plainfield's Cody Marks showed why many coaches didn't want their state qualifiers wrestling in the team duals Wednesday. Marks broke his hand and is out of the tourney. He says he now regrets wrestling. Nashua-Plainfield did go on to win the dual title. The Iowa High School Association is in a tough spot, and I'm sure it's more complex than we realize, but it seems a move to earlier in the season makes sense...

Jeremy Lin did it again. Seven straight for the Knicks. Even Andy Fales' is paying attention to the NBA. That's when you know the story has left the boundaries of fandom...

Great stat from Iowa State: Royce White is the only player nationally to lead his team in scoring (13.2), rebounding (9.2), assists (4.8), steals (1.2) and blocks. Notice free throw shooting did not make the list...

Could TCU have made a worse first impression on the Big 12? No. It could not. TCU is making West Virginia look like Stanford...

Andy asked me what I think of when I think of the Dalai Lama. Easy: Bill Murray in Caddyshack...
Carl Spackler discusses the flowing robes.
Anyone who travels through Drake frequently, like I do, has seen Paul Morrison walking no matter the time of year. Morrison has served his beloved Drake University for 78 years. Wednesday, Drake surprised Morrison with the news that part of Forest Avenue will become Paul F. Morrison Way. Great idea.
Thanks to Drake for the picture.

Best In Show, McCarney Joking, Worst Love Songs

The Jeremy Lin story has it all, and anyone who isn't enjoying it, is a fun-smashing hater...

The crowd favorite, the Pekingese, wins Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. We used to have a Pekingnese when I was a kid. His name was Gooch. He was a nice dog. He would not have won...
Malachy the Pekingese
(Photo courtesy AP)

The Big 12 finally released its football schedules for next season. Gone are Missouri and Texas A&M. Iowa State will travel to TCU, and host West Virginia. Those still don't seem like Big 12 teams...

Dan McCarney says he plans to coach North Texas during spring practice. Sounds like Mac is feeling  good for a guy who just had a stroke. First hint might have been McCarney telling the Register's Randy Peterson that people should send Grey Goose, not cards or flowers...

The Iowa High School Athletic Association and wrestling coaches need to get on the same page regarding state duals. There's got to be a way to make the duals matter more without coaches and wrestlers thinking they're hurting their chances at state...

"Parenthood" is going full heartstrings tonight. Must be dusty in here...

2:30 in the morning. I intended to be asleep 90 minutes ago, but then in one final channel surf, HBO was showing the underrated Amistad, and I happened to catch the great, "Give Us Free!" scene. Hooked. After that, I had to stick around to catch John Quincy Adams' (Anthony Hopkins) lengthy closing argument in front of the Supreme Court. Outstanding...

We had fun on the Murph & Andy Show on Valentine's Day with best and worst love songs. Here are my choices:








Monday, February 13, 2012

How can I start this with something original?

Jeremy Lin. (As required by recently passed bloglaw.)

I thought Iowa State might win at Baylor. I thought wrong. Iowa State's defensive intensity, or lack thereof, had Fred Hoiberg so frustrated he had steam coming out of his ears in the post-game. Hoiberg likely thought the Cyclones were past an apathetic night. I did too. They're not.

Royce White went on twitter and told Cyclone fans that's the worst game they'd see from him. White says Baylor's zone threw him off, and now he knows.

The BTN says someone paid $2100 for the chair Fran McCaffery slammed at Michigan State. The money goes to the Iowa baseball program. McCaffery's "coach with passion" is a nice touch.
Fran McCaffery Chair
Conversation piece.

Here's hoping a speedy recovery for Dan McCarney. If the medical staff at his Texas hospital needs a pep talk, they've got the right guy.

Randy Moss wants to play again. Who saw that coming? Only everybody.

I'm watching Smash again. It's good. I understand the glowing reviews. Still, I don't think I can get past the musical numbers. After Nikki Minaj, I should be more tolerant.

Kate Upton is on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She's just 19. 
Itsy bitsy teeny weeny.

Scattershots on a Sunday Night.

Billy Cundiff is first class. Drake couldn't have picked a better guy to honor.

Maybe Fred Hoiberg should shove more players. Since he woke up Chris Allen, the guy has been a different player.

The Cyclones are fun to watch for a several reasons, and unselfish ball movement is one.

I can tell the Grammys were on Sunday night. We got several look-alike nominations for Bruno Mars and Chris Babb.
Bruno Mars.
Chirs Babb.
Adele is a perfect storm of talent, material,and moment. She is the rare performer who deserves all the praise heaped on her at the Grammys. And she's 23.
Singer Adele holds her six Grammy Awards at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 12, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Adele (Courtesy: Reuters.)
Should the ex-boyfriend who broke Adele's heart get some kind of partial writing credit? No. But he should inspired some great work.
Good gosh, Jennifer Hudson can wail.

Nikkie Minaj, what the heck was that?

Springsteen can still rock. We Take Care of Our Own is his best arena anthem in years. I just hope no politician takes it.

Phil Mickelson crushed Tiger Woods Sunday. Tiger did not look anything like a guy who has his mojo back.

Does anybody really look forward to Valentine's Day?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

No 'Magic' Needed, Burgason Booted, Black is Back

By Chris Hassel

No Magic needed at Hilton today --- and I'm sure that was just fine with Iowa State fans. The Cyclones wiped the floor with over-matched Texas A&M, 69-46. Iowa State has outscored A&M 143-96 in two games this season. This is the same A&M team that many picked to win the Big 12.

The Cyclones are now tied for 3rd with Baylor, who Iowa State plays on Monday. The 6th-ranked Bears have lost 2 straight and will likely plummet in Monday's poll. If the Cyclones can find a way to beat Baylor, they would definitely jump into the top-25 (assuming they don't lose to lowly Oklahoma the next weekend). Right now, this team is playing like a 6 or 7 seed in the NCAA tourney. Not only should the Cyclones go to the tournament, they should win a game or two as well.

Ames grad, Jordan Burgason, saw his great college basketball career come to an abrupt end, this weekend. Burgason, who led the nation in 3-point shooting, was kicked off his Lipscomb team, and kicked out of school. According to Lipscomb, he broke unspecified university policies. Here's a look at the Lipscomb Code of Conduct
Burgason was shooting 53% from 3-pt range.
What in the world has happened to Creighton? After starting the season 21-2, the Jays have lost 3 straight. This February swoon is going to kill them when it comes seeding time.

For the second straight year there will be a girl at state wrestling. Eddyville-Blakesburg's Megan Black once again qualified for the tournament, which begins on Thursday. Casey Herkelman, who became the first girl to win a match at the state wrestling tourney a year ago, did not qualify.
Megan Black will return to Wells Fargo Arena. (
My Muscatine Muskies won their second straight state title --- in swimming. A title is a title, but c' one is going to respect my school until it starts winning in football and basketball.
A busy day at the Muscatine Mall.
I'm meeting my sister's boyfriend, tonight. I hope I don't have to hurt him.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Iowa and ISU predictions, Book-reading, Show Choir

By Chris Hassel

I know Iowa can look hideous at times, but that comes with being a really young team. Two steps forward, one step back, is to be expected. Baring some kind of crazy circumstances (transfers, injuries, etc...), this team will be in the tournament in two years, and probably ranked. I feel strongly about that. Call me crazy but I also think Devyn Marble and Aaron White will both play in the NBA. My argument doesn't have much to stand on right now, but I'll let time do the talking. These two are extremely talented. 
Aaron White has game.
Iowa State will be 20-8 overall and 10-5 in the Big 12 before we know it. Outside of a really tough road game at #6 Baylor, the Cyclones have it extremely easy over the next two weeks. ISU hosts A&M, OU, and TTU --- the 3 worst teams in the Big 12. Three teams that Iowa State has already beaten on the road. The question will be how the Cyclones finish. They're at K-State, at #4 Missouri, and home vs. Baylor to close the season. Even with 20 wins, ISU can't afford to lose its final 3 games, and go one-and-done in the Big 12 tourney. This team is clearly in the field as of now ( has them as a 9-seed). They'll likely move to a 7 or an 8 over the next two weeks. But the selection committee really stresses finishing strong. The Cyclones probably need to win one more game against a good team (K-State, Baylor, or Missouri). That being said, I think ISU gets in the tourney as an 8 or a 9.

I watched the second episode of 'Luck' on HBO, last night. I hear it's not getting great reviews but I'm starting to get hooked. It's not as good as 'Boardwalk Empire' or 'Game of Thrones', but it has potential. I just don't understand how they film those horse-racing scenes. That has to be extremely challenging.

Speaking of 'Game of Thrones', I'm finally reading the book that goes along with the show. It's probably not a surprise to many that I'm not much of a reader. I've read one book since I was in middle school (no I didn't read any books in high school even when I was supposed to). I finally have motivation to read now that 3 of my friends are reading it as well. One has already read the first 3 books. Another just finished the first book. Another is about where I am, on page 77. The 3 I'm talking about are Andy Fales, Andrew Downs, and photographer Brandon McCauley. I'll let you guess which one has already read 3 of the 5 books.

I went home to visit my family, in Muscatine, Thursday night. My Mom took me to a show choir event that my high school sister was performing in. Has anyone else seen this thing??? It's nuts. I thought it was just going to be singing, but they were ripping heads off of dolls and painting their faces. My sister (Alli) had a pair of solo's that she sang in front of about 200 people. I have no idea how she does it. I'd crumble under the presser. I barley made it through my wedding speech.

Alli is the one with the mic on the bed at the top.
Since I was at the choir event, I had my Dad DVR the Iowa-NW game. This day-in-age it's extremely hard to avoid spoilers. Last night, I thought I had it all figured out. I texted (or is it text'd? or just text?) my wife and told her that if she needed me to get a hold of my Mom or Dad because I was going to turn my phone off to avoid updates. I avoided Twitter, texting, calls...everything --- except an old friend I saw at the event who immediately started talking about how Iowa was playing like garbage. It never fails.

Northwestern Owns Iowa, Bloom Wanted Fame, Can't We All Get Along?

  • We knew Iowa would be up and down this basketball season, but wow. The Hawks followed up a two game winning streak with a dismal showing at Northwestern. Northwestern's shooters aren't that wide open during warm-ups.
  • According to the BTN, Northwestern has beaten Iowa in basketball four straight times for the first time since 1932.
  • No one will be too upset with Iowa raising football ticket prices $2 a game, but it does nothing to quell growing demands for more winning. $388 for a season ticket means a family of four spends $1552 before parking, buying a souvenir, or stopping at the concession stand.
  • The "Let's Move" campaign at Wells Fargo Arena looked like fun. Props to all the celebrities for having so much fun on stage, even former Governor Vilsack, who doesn't quite have moves like Jagger. Vilsack did once beat our intern, AJ, at Madden during SoundOFF, so he gets a break.
  • Iowa-hater Stephen Bloom sure wanted his 15 minutes of fame.  Infamy will last longer. He sent article in all directions, and tried hard to land television gigs.
  • If you have the chance to watch "Namath" on HBO, don't miss this documentary. Joe Namath comes off as a nice guy who enjoyed his fame and fun.
  • I loved Andy Fales' story where he had Democrats and Republicans say something nice about each other---or tried to make them. A few just couldn't do it, which is why the country is divided beyond all reason.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Cyclones Let One Get Away, Ferentz Stays Loyal, Bradying not Tebowing

  • Iowa State really missed an opportunity to end the 24 year drought in Stillwater. The Cyclones had too many lapses in defensive intensity.
  • A split in Oklahoma is better than ISU has done in more than 15 years, but when OSU is mediocre, and playing in front of a half-empty crowd, Cyclones need to find a way.
  • Chris Allen kept Iowa State in the game. He's streaky, but when he's on, look out.
  • True freshman Le'Bryan Nash is a game-changer. As in make a shot, swat a shot, change the game.
  • Royce White is so much fun to watch. A man that big who passes that well. But until While can consistently make free throws, he's a liability at crunch time.
  • You could hear Fred Hoiberg's frustration come over the radio after the game. Hoiberg knows one got away.
  • Talking to Larry Eustachy Tuesday, I was reminded how refreshingly candid Eustachy always was. Funny too. It was nice to hear Eustachy is happy and sober at Southern Miss, not to mention 20-3. I was surprised to hear Eustachy say he didn't really enjoy those back-to-back Big 12 championship seasons at Iowa State. He said between the drinking and the pressure, it was all a blur. Cyclone historians know how remarkable those two years were. Eustachy also expressed thanks to Hoiberg for inviting him back, and said the standing ovation he received was his happiest moment at Hilton.
Eustachy at Southern Miss. (Courtesy Commercial
  • Tyler Sash says he now has a key to New York City but not Oskaloosa. Osky, you're on the clock. What up?
  • NPR is really introducing a sports segment? Has NPR been watching SoundOFF?
  • Many Hawkeye fans are disappointed Kirk Ferentz didn't go outside the current staff for a new defensive coordinator. There's a growing feeling Hawk football has grown stale and needs some new blood and fresh ideas. No one should be surprised Ferentz promoted Phil Parker from within. Ferentz's loyalty is one of his admirable qualities, though critics think it's also a blind spot.
  • The Big Ten is not suddenly endorsing the idea of a college football playoff because it's concerned about fans. The Big Ten just learned how much money it made by having a conference championship game and sees an opportunity for even more cash. It's always about the money.
  • Bradying is trying to become the new Tebowing, but it's lame.
Bradying. (Courtesy

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

M.I.A. Says Giants #1

Is it really possible Iowa State hasn't won a men's basketball game at Oklahoma State since 1988?

No Super Bowl story has been more blown out of proportion than M.I.A. flipping the bird. If most of us missed it, even though we were watching the halftime show, I doubt it caused any deep scarring.
M.I.A. on right, pre-bird.

Biggest stunner from Super Bowl Sunday: The Voice was the highest rated non-sports event on television in six years. And as predicted, Sunday's game was the most watched television show in United States history.

I still haven't seen Smash. USA Today is the latest to give a rave review. Can I enjoy a show based on the production of a Broadway musical? Skeptical.

Gisele was standing up for her man. I'm sure Tom will call some teammates anyway.

Another win for Lolo Jones. Look out, London.
Courtesy Imagekind.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Super Sunday Scattershots

Super Sunday thoughts:

  • NBC's decision to mostly concentrate on football in the pre-game was a good one. Sure, we saw inevitable sponsor plugs and show promotions, but mostly it was Giants vs Patriots, as it should be.
  • Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton make a cute couple. Their rendition of America the Beautiful was a little too twangy for my taste, but they can sing, so a good start.
  • I thought Kelly Clarkson did an outstanding job with our National Anthem. She was respectful, well-paced, didn't make it about her, and showed off her underrated pipes. Whitney Houston set the bar in 1991. Clarkson was nearly as good, and without the benefit of the patriotic fervor we saw in Tampa in '91.
  • It was apparent right away Rob Gronkowski would be a non-factor. He couldn't run or cut, and when healthy this season, Gronk was unstoppable.
  • The refs had it right on Tom Brady's intentional grounding, which resulted in a safety, but I was shocked to see it called. Can't remember the last time that happened with a pass thrown deep over the middle.
  • The Patriots leading at the half seemed wrong. The Giants had dominated.
  • Madonna's halftime show exceeded my low expectations. Expertly staged, perfectly lip-synced, and never dull. I didn't even take it personally when MIA flipped me off.
  • More commercials. I found it overall a disappointing offering. I liked M+M's, Mr. Quiggly for Skechers, Clint Eastwood for Chrysler, and Evolution. I hated Audi's vampires, Go Daddy, and David Beckham (though my wife didn't seem to mind this one).
  • Back to Al and Cris. Al's a pro, and Collinsworth sees things everyone else seems to miss.
  • Brady completed 16 straight passes, and it appeared the Patriots would win, but then Justin Tuck slammed Brady, and the quarterback was never quite the same.
  • How much would the Patriots like to have that turnover back they sacrificed by having 12 men on the field?
  • Eli Manning is not the quarterback his brother Peyton is, but Eli is better at crunch time of big games. He's proven it time-and-time again. Manning to Manningham at the start of the game-winning drive was as good as it gets for a pass and catch.
The Catch. (Courtesy SI)
  • Loved Belichick's strategy to let the Giants score. Ahmad Bradshaw tried to stop himself, he couldn't. It wouldn't matter.
  • Final two New England drives, and once again, the Patriots failed to make plays. Brady wasn't perfect, but he was let down by his receivers and tight ends several times. Collinsworth said, "Welker makes that catch 100 out of 100 times". Apparently not. Hernandez also drops a pass right in his hands.
  • Final play, Brady throws it to the end zone, the Giants bat it down, and Gronkowski nearly scooped it for the greatest play in Super Bowl history. But he didn't.
  • Giants made more big plays. Simple as that. 21-17 Giants.
  • Another exciting Super bowl. I think we'll find out Monday it was the most watched television program in United States history. Put me down for 112 million people.
  • More people call in sick the day after the Super Bowl than any other day of the year.
  • Oh yeah. Almost forgot. The world premier of SMASH is Monday.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Let's give a warm welcome back to basketball in Iowa

By Chris Hassel

It's been a long time since we've had a winter like this (and I'm not talking about the weather). Basketball is finally back, and it feels great. Iowa State is on the verge of breaking into the top-25 for the first time in over 6 years. Meanwhile, Iowa is on the verge of getting back to .500 in the Big Ten.
ISU beat Oklahoma, 77-70. Courtesy AP
Let's start with Iowa State. 

Royce White took one shot against Oklahoma, and it was the shot that sealed the win. Actually, it wasn't a shot at all. It was a dunk. The Cyclones beat Oklahoma, 77-70, despite the fact that White scored only 3 points. That may be the most surprising stat of the game, but it wasn't the only crazy stat. Here are a few more:
- Iowa State hit 10 three-pointers in the 1st-half, while making only 3 two-point field goals
- The Cyclones won a game in Oklahoma for the first time since they were members of the Big 8 (and Fred Hoiberg was a freshman with the Pacers)
- ISU has its 3rd Big 12 road win. The most since 2004-05.
- The Clones are 7-3 through their first 10 conference games for the first time since winning the Big 12 title in 2000-01.

At 17-6 overall, the Cyclones are not only closing in on a tournament bid, they're improving their seed with every win. On Tuesday they're at Oklahoma State before coming home for Texas A&M next Saturday.

Onto the Hawkeyes.

As the team honored its past, fans got another glimpse of Iowa's promising future. The Hawkeyes blasted Penn State from the tip in front of the 1986-87 Elite 8 team. The Hawks are now 5-6 in the Big Ten with a very manageable schedule down the stretch. With one more against Penn State and Nebraska, and two games against NW remaining, there's a chance Iowa could finish 9-9 in conference. That would be incredible for a team that hadn't won more than 6 games in any conference season since Steve Alford was in town. If the Hawks play well down the stretch, this team will be playing some post-season basketball.
The Hawks beat Penn State, 77-64. Courtesy

Northern Iowa is having the most disappointing season of any 'Big 4' school, but the Panthers played up to their potential today. UNI upset #13 Creighton on a last-second three by Anthony James. It was interesting to watch Ben Jacobson as the shot went in and the clock ran out. He jumped in the air with a huge grin on his face ---- and then he turned to walk toward losing coach, and best friend, Greg McDermott. His face turned stone cold, almost as if he was embarrassed he was showing so much emotion. It's no secret both Jacobson and McDermott hate playing against one another.

The Super Bowl is tomorrow. I'll take the Patriots in a tight one.