Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hawkeyes Remain on Top of the Big Ten

Iowa is now sitting at 19-6 (8-3) and winning the Big Ten Conference (the best conference in the land by RPI standards). The Hawkeyes haven't been in this position this late in the year since before I was born. Needless to say, it is an exciting time for Iowa Basketball. With a big win at Indiana on Saturday, Iowa has now positioned itself to make a decent run for the Big Ten title, and, dare I say, a decent run in the NCAA Tournament. Riding the Big Three (Horner, Brunner, and Haluska), Iowa has been able to knock off 7 ranked teams so far this year, with another chance coming Tuesday night against Michigan State. Labeled as one of the biggest games to occur at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the game against MSU will either give Iowa a leg up in the Big Ten race or bring them back down into the cluster of other teams chasing them. Iowa has won 15 consecutive games at Carver-Hawkeye and look to put the 30 point drubbing they took up in East Lansing behind them by taking care of business at home.

Jeff Horner has already broken Iowa's all-time 3 point scoring record, formerly held by Chris Kingsbury, and going into the Michigan State game is only 6 assists from breaking Andre Woolridge's school record for most assists in a career of 575. Jeff, who is already the only Hawkeye to ever record 1000 points, 400 rebounds, and 400 assists in a career, has a shot at finishing his career with 1500/500/500. Jeff is currently leading the Big Ten is assists at 6.1/game and has an impressive 2.21 A/TO ratio on the year. Crippled by a knee injury early in the year that made him lose time for the first time in his career, Horner struggled wearing a cumbersome brace for several games. Since the brace removal, Jeff has regained his form and looks better than ever, ready for the final push in this, his final season as a Hawkeye. Always a warrior, Jeff averages an incredible 36 minutes per contest.

Greg Brunner recently became the all-time leading rebounder at Iowa, surpassing Kevin Kunnert's long time standing record of 914. Although it would take several post-season games, Brunner actually has a shot at getting a thousand boards in his career at Iowa. The ever-resiliant power forward shows time and time again why he will go down as one of all-time Hawkeye great, along with Jeff Horner. Greg is currently the only Big Ten player to average a double-double this season.

Capable of scoring in heaps, Adam Haluska rounds out the Big Three that makes up the heart and soul of this Hawkeye Squad. A deadly shooter from the outside and a clutch free throw shooter. As a four sport standout at Carroll High School, Adam took four individual titles in the state track meet (long jump, 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters) in his senior year alone, which is only a glimpse of this guy's athletic abilities.

The Big Three are an unprecedented trio, and their achievements are detailed in this Des Moines Register article. "When the numbers are added up, Greg Brunner, Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska attain novelty status. Each of them has scored more than 1,000 points during their college basketball careers, giving No. 18 Iowa an unprecedented trio. Never before has an in-state program featured three homegrown players who surpassed that major-college milestone, while playing on the same team at the same time. Brunner (1,369 points), Horner (1,351) and Haluska (1,111) have found their niche in Hawkeye trivia, but statistics represent only a fraction of their potential legacy."

Iowa has gotten big time play so far by its Big Three, but don't overlook the importance of what junior Mike Henderson brings to the table. A shutdown defender and player who can penetrate the lanes effectively, Henderson is often overlooked by the opposition. Mike is also the Hawkeyes' leading three point shooter at 46% on the year. Mike has been the constant all year long for the Hawkeyes, and is one of the most underappreciated guards in the Big Ten.

Erek Hansen continues to be a force to be reckoned with inside the paint. With the addage of extra bulk, Hansen has been able to stand his ground under the bucket and leads the Big Ten in blocked shots for the second year in a row. Prone to fouls when he is tired, Coach Alford does a fantastic job of subbing in for him when he is fatigued. Hansen has had his fair share of huge blocks so far this year, and his turn-around baseline jumper has been a pleasant surprise this year.

The Hawkeyes are not blessed with a very deep bench, but the minutes they get from their subs are key. Doug Thomas is far and away the Hawkeyes' 6th man of the year, without a doubt. A scrappy player with an incredible leaping ability, Thomas brings instant energy off the bench. A guy who can finish on the offensive end and dominate the opposition's best post player, Doug will be vital to Iowa's success this year.

Tony Freeman has showed signs of brillance and befuddlement at the same time, true to most froshs in today's college game. A very good outside game and pest on defense, it looks like Iowa will rely on Tony quite a bit in the coming years and will look for his help the rest of this year as well.

If you are a Hawkeye fan and are not excited about this year, someone had better call a doctor to check your pulse. This is Iowa's window of opportunity to make a run for not only the Big Ten crown, but also a run deep into The Dance.

Iowa's RPI is 8, according to and
Iowa's RPI is 6, according to
Sagarin has Iowa at 16.
At the beginning of the week, Iowa was ranked in the Top 20 (18/AP, 19/Coaches)
Iowa is tied for the best defense in the land with Texas


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