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Iowa Sports

Full steam ahead for Cyclones

Most college football teams use the spring to experiment with schemes, initiate position battles and work on fundamentals.
Coming off the best season in program history, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell sees no need to tinker with the offense or defense, and with 20 starters returning, competition for jobs is limited.
Fundamentals? That’s what the spring was all about for the Cyclones. That could have meant offensive linemen working on their footwork, defensive backs focusing on backpedaling, linebackers brushing up on taking on blocks.
“When you talk experience, how do you get your great players to be the best they can be? Obviously, that’s fundamental and technical work,” Campbell said. “How do you get the young players to become good players you can trust to play? I think it always starts with fundamentals and technique.”
Iowa State won nine games for the third time in program history, played in the Big 12 championship game for the first time and beat Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. At No. 9, the Cyclones had their highest ranking in a final Associated Press poll.
The positive vibe around the program is apparent with seven of the 2020 starters choosing to use the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA because of the pandemic.
The Cyclones will have super seniors in tight end Chase Allen, offensive lineman Sean Foster, defensive lineman Enyl Uwasurike, linebacker Jake Hummel, safety Greg Eisworth, kicker Connor Assalley and punter Corey Dunn.
An eighth starter, tight end Charlie Kolar, passed on entering the NFL draft as an underclassmen.
Campbell said the players who came back when they could have left did so because they believed they hadn’t reached their potential as college players.
“The opposite end of it is, ‘Man, can those guys raise the level of the young players around them to be at their level?’ ” Campbell said.
Campbell hopes addressing fundamentals and attention to detail help the Cyclones build on what they accomplished last season and avoid costly breakdowns in execution.
Remember, the Cyclones lost their opener to Louisiana after giving up kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns as well as a 78-yard TD pass. They survived against a 1-3 Baylor team despite Brock Purdy’s three interceptions on the first five possessions. Purdy was picked off three more times in the conference title game against Oklahoma.
“You have to continue trying to get better,” Campbell said. “There are a lot of areas we need to improve on.
“Where can that starting point come? Man, a lot of it was in the fundamentals and details to technically respond in the heat of the moment, and how do we do a better job of that? Even those veteran players can be much better in that area, some of the situations we failed to do it a year ago.”

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Iowa Sports

Bohannon back for sixth season

IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon announced Monday he will return to the Hawkeyes for his sixth season in 2021-22.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA granted eligibility relief to winter sport athletes in 2020-21.
Bohannon is Iowa’s career record holder in assists (639), 3-pointers made (364), free throw percentage (.887) and games played (143). He ranks ninth in Iowa career scoring with 1,638 points.
“I am beyond excited to return to Iowa for my sixth year,” Bohannon said. “Last year never felt right with no fans in attendance.
“I look forward to providing leadership to the young guys this upcoming year and help them along the way of the incredible journey.”
Bohannon led the Hawkeyes with 80 3-pointers and 135 assists, and he was third in scoring at 10.6 points per game.
“We are excited that Jordan has decided to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility and return for another season,” coach Fran McCaffery said. “Having someone with his talent and experience on our roster will be invaluable to our guys.”
Bohannon had his 2019-20 season cut short after 10 games because of hip surgery.
The last Iowa men’s basketball player to be on the roster six years was Jess Settles (1994-99). Settles played three seasons before injury setbacks in 1997 and 1998 delayed his senior season until 1999.

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Iowa Sports

Drake taps Pohlman as next head coach

DES MOINES (AP) — Allison Pohlman has been promoted to head coach of the Drake women’s basketball team and will take over for Jennie Baranczyk, who was hired by Oklahoma last week.
Drake athletic director Brian Hardin announced Pohlman’s hiring Sunday. Pohlman has been a member of the Drake staff since 2007 and associate head coach since 2014.
“This truly is a dream come true,” Pohlman said. “I’ve always held Drake in the highest regard and every day I am reminded of the prominence of this program as I walk through the Knapp Center and see the tradition displayed on those banners.”
As the Bulldogs’ recruiting coordinator under Baranczyk, Pohlman has assembled teams that have appeared in three straight NCAA Tournaments and won four regular-season Missouri Valley Conference titles and two MVC Tournament championships.
Before joining the Drake staff, the Wellsburg, Iowa, native spent seven seasons on staff at Northern Iowa and served as the Panthers’ associate head coach in 2006-07. Pohlman was a first-team All-MVC pick three times when she played for UNI.

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Iowa Sports

Fredrick enters transfer portal

IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa starting guard CJ Fredrick has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal, the school confirmed Monday.
Fredrick started 52 games the last two seasons and is a 47% career 3-point shooter.
Fredrick averaged 7.5 points per game last season and had 52 assists against 10 turnovers, with only six turnovers after Dec. 20. He missed four entire games and parts of three others because of a lower leg injury.
The Des Moines Register first reported Fredrick’s plan to transfer.
The Hawkeyes could head into the 2021-22 season without as many as four starters from the team that went 22-9 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Hawks will lose Luka Garza, The Associated Press national player of the year, and Joe Wieskamp announced last week he would go through the NBA draft process while maintaining eligibility. Jordan Bohannon has been at Iowa for five years and could choose to return for a sixth under NCAA pandemic eligibility rules.
Connor McCaffery, son of coach Fran McCaffery, will be back for his senior season.

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Iowa Sports

Grill headed back to Iowa State

AMES (AP) — Caleb Grill will transfer back to Iowa State after playing last season at UNLV for new Cyclones coach T.J. Otzelberger.
Otzelberger announced Grill’s move Tuesday. The 6-foot-3 guard started all 27 games for the Runnin’ Rebels last season and averaged 9.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Grill signed with Iowa State out of high school in Maize, Kansas, and played for the Cyclones as a freshman in 2019-20, appearing in 29 of 32 games and making two starts.
Grill transferred after the season to UNLV, where Otzelberger was head coach. Grill initially had committed to play at South Dakota State when Oetzelberger was coach there. Otzelberger was hired at Iowa State four weeks ago.
“Caleb competes in everything that he does,” Otzelberger said. “He takes pride in his defense, making the right play, shooting with accuracy and giving his all every time he takes the floor. His return to Ames will be very much anticipated and we’re excited for what he will accomplish as a Cyclone.”
Grill scored a career-high 27 points with seven 3-pointers against an Alabama team that went on to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16.
At Iowa State, Grill played 13.7 minutes per game as a freshman and averaged 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds.

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Iowa Sports

Hawkeye Express derailed by pandemic, funding issues

IOWA CITY (AP) — The train that has carried thousands of Iowa football fans from Coralville to Kinnick Stadium on games days will cease operations, the athletic department announced Wednesday.
The Iowa Northern Railway’s Hawkeye Express has made the 10-minute trip on game days since 2004. The athletic department and railroad said now is the time to end the train rides because of the likelihood of continued social distancing this season season and the need for equipment upgrades and increases in operating expenses.
An average of 3,700 fans boarded the train in Coralville on game days in 2019.
Fans weren’t allowed to attend games in 2020 because of the pandemic.
“The Hawkeye Express has been a wonderful part of our Hawkeye football gameday experience,” senior associate athletic director Matt Henderson said. “While it was a difficult decision to make, we all agree it is the right decision.”
The Hawkeye Express ran on track owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad, which operates between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Chicago.
Fans who rode the Hawkeye Express are encouraged to use public parking lots around the stadium.

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Iowa Sports

Garza wins Wooden Award

IOWA CITY — Senior Luka Garza became the University of Iowa’s first winner of the John R. Wooden Player of the Year Award. The announcement was made Tuesday evening by the Los Angeles Athletic Club during ESPN SportsCenter.
Garza, the most dominant player in men’s college basketball, swept all the major postseason awards (Wooden, Naismith, Associated Press, Oscar Robertson, NABC, Lute Olson, Sporting News) to become the consensus unanimous national player of the year for 2021. Garza
“Winning the Wooden Award means so much to myself and my family,” said Garza. “John Wooden was someone my grandfather was friends with, and someone who I was taught a lot about growing up. I studied the Pyramid, and many of his books to try and become the teammate and player that could win a championship.
“I can’t thank Coach McCaffery and his staff enough for their role in helping me develop on and off the floor. I have had amazing teammates along the way, and I would not be here without them. I want to thank my family for their undying support of me throughout my career. Lastly, thank you to the University of Iowa for changing my life. I am so proud to bring this award to the University of Iowa for the first time.”
Voting took place from March 15-22, 2021. As insisted upon by Coach Wooden at the Award’s creation 45 years ago, all players were certified by their universities as meeting or exceeding the criteria of the John R. Wooden Award.
Iowa’s first two-time unanimous consensus first-team All-American led the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes to 22 victories and a third place Big Ten finish in 2021. The Washington, D.C., native led the nation in total points (747), player efficiency rating (35.84), 30-point games (8), field goals made (281), and 20-point games (22). Garza ranked second nationally in points per game (24.1), fifth in free throw attempts (199), 10th in free throw makes (141), and 11th in double-doubles (13). His 747 points extended the single-season school record he set last season (740).
The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year broke Iowa’s 32-year old scoring record held by Roy Marble on Feb. 21, 2021. He finished his Hawkeye career with 2,306 points, which ranks seventh-best in Big Ten history. In addition to ranking first in career scoring, Garza is tops at Iowa in 30-point games (13), conference scoring (1,399), field goals made (870), field goal attempts (1,594), and 40-point games (2); second in rebounds (931); fourth in double-doubles (34); fifth in blocked shots (154); sixth in free throw makes (446) and attempts (636); and 16th in 3-pointers made (120). He is the only men’s basketball player in Big Ten history to accumulate 2,250 points and 900 rebounds.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award Program hosts the most prestigious honors in college basketball recognizing The Wooden Award Most Outstanding Player for men and women, The Wooden Award All American Teams for men and women and the annual selection of the Wooden Award Legend of Coaching recipient. Honorees have proven to their university that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the John R. Wooden Award as set forth by Coach Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee, including making progress towards graduation and maintaining at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed over one million dollars to the universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the Wooden Award All American recipients and has sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps.

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Iowa Sports

Bolton leaving Iowa State

AMES (AP) — Rasir Bolton, Iowa State’s leading scorer this past season, has entered the NCAA transfer portal and will be looking to play at his third school in four years.
Bolton left Penn State in 2019 after then-coach Patrick Chambers made a race-tinged comment to Bolton. Chambers resigned in October 2020.
Bolton averaged 15.5 points per game for an Iowa State team that won only two games. Coach Steve Prohm was fired, replaced by T.J. Otzelberger.
In announcing his plan to transfer, Bolton tweeted, “On March 11th I stated my continued commitment to CyclONEnation, I later learned that every decision is not ours to make.”
Bolton started 50 of 51 games in two seasons at Iowa State and averaged 15 points, four rebounds and 3.3 assists.
The native of Petersburg, Virginia, will have one year of eligibility as a graduate transfer.

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Iowa Sports

Iowa’s Lee a repeat Hodge winner

Iowa’s Spencer Lee and Minnesota’s Gable Steveson have been named winners of the Dan Hodge Trophy as the most dominant college wrestlers in 2020-21.
The announcement Monday marked the first time in the award’s 20-year history that two wrestlers shared the honor.
Lee won the Hodge last year, and last week he became a three-time NCAA champion at 125 pounds. Steveson won his first heavyweight national title.
The winner of the award, presented by WIN magazine, is determined by fan vote and a committee made up of past winners, retired coaches and select media.
Lee overwhelmingly won the fan vote, but the committee overrode the vote and picked co-winners because Lee and Steveson were on nearly equal terms when it came to assessing criteria for the award.
Lee was a 12-0 with five pins, three technical falls and four major decisions. Lee earned bonus points in 92% of his matches.
Steveson was 17-0 with four pins, seven technical falls and three major decisions. He earned bonus points in 88% of his matches and gave up just one takedown.
Steveson will compete this week in the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials for a spot on the team that will go to Tokyo in July. Lee withdrew from the trials because of torn anterior cruciate ligaments in his knees. He tore his left ACL a few days before the NCAA Tournament but competed anyway.
The trophy is named for the late Dan Hodge, the undefeated three-time NCAA champion for Oklahoma in the 1950s who was known for his aggressiveness and pinning prowess. Hodge, who died in December, never lost and never was taken down as a collegian.
Also receiving first-place votes were Iowa State 157-pounder David Carr and Penn State 133-pounder Roman Bravo-Young, both of whom won national titles.

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Iowa Sports

Iowa women ousted by powerful UConn

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The game was billed as a marquee matchup of uber-talented freshmen Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark. While those two didn’t disappoint, it was Christyn Williams and UConn’s other upperclassmen who stepped up and helped the Huskies advance.
Williams scored 27 points and Bueckers added 18 to lead No. 1 UConn to a 92-72 win over fifth-seeded Iowa on Saturday in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
“The fact there was so much hype on those two kids. Part of it was unfair and comes with the territory,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Like I told the team before the game, in all these matchups, it comes (down) to somebody else. … Our defense as bad as it was at times, was really, really good when it had to be. Christyn Williams, Evina Westbrook and Olivia (Nelson-Ododa), our three juniors were amazing, played the way you wanted your upperclassmen to play. It was not going to be easy on either Caitlin or Paige to play their normal game.”
Bueckers and Iowa’s Clark had taken the women’s basketball world by storm this season. Bueckers became the third freshman ever to earn All-America honors. Clark led the nation in scoring and came into the regional semifinals averaging 29 points in the tournament.
“I was super excited for this game, just because of the spotlight on it,” said Bueckers, who also had nine rebounds and eight assists. “And I know everybody hyped it up to be Caitlin versus Paige, but I was so excited for our team because I knew that people were going to come and notice and watch our whole team play.”
Evina Westbrook just missed the 18th triple-double in NCAA women’s tournament history, with 17 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for UConn (27-1). Nelson-Ododa added 11 rebounds and seven assists along with four points. Freshman Aaliyah Edwards added 18 points.
“I kind of knew that they were going to be extra aggressive, especially on (Williams) and Paige, so that kind of makes it easier on the rest of us with them being a big focus,” Westbrook said.
Clark, shadowed on defense by Williams on almost every possession, finished with 21 points — below her nearly 27-points-per-game average. She was 7 for 21 from the field.
“I thought we played a great team basketball game,” Williams said. “I think we were working on all cylinders today. So, I don’t want to get all the credit, because this was a total team effort.”
The game marked the return of Auriemma, who missed the opening two rounds while recovering from the coronavirus. Auriemma arrived in San Antonio on Wednesday.
Associate head coach Chris Dailey, who guided the team through the opening two wins, moved back to her customary seat at his side where she’s been for their entire time at UConn.
Williams missed five of her first seven shots before getting going on offense. She made six straight in the second quarter, to give UConn a 49-35 halftime lead. The junior wing had 14 of her points in the period.
Iowa (20-10), behind Clark, was able to get within nine twice in the fourth quarter but Bueckers answered with a 3-pointer each time and Iowa could get no closer.
“This season was truly special, and I think for this team it’s only up from here. I know a lot of girls dream about going to all those blue bloods but I think playing for your home state is really something special and creating something is really special and that’s my goal here,” Clark said. “Obviously I still have three years left to do a lot of special things.”
UConn, which was playing in its 27th straight Sweet 16, faces Baylor — which beat Michigan 78-75 in overtime — on Monday night in the River Walk regional final.
For the first time in the tournament, the general public was allowed to attend the Alamodome. Each game was allowed to have 17% of capacity, which was around 4,800 fans. In the previous two rounds, teams were given six tickets per person in the travel party.
LAST LAUGH
While Bueckers didn’t guard Clark much at all in the game, on Iowa’s last possession, she drew a charge on her friend and patted her on the butt as the two exchanged smiles when the Hawkeyes freshman helped her up.
“Obviously me and Caitlin are good friends, so just me taking that charge on her, yeah, we exchanged some words, I guess,” said a giggling and smiling Bueckers.
UNSELFISH
UConn had 30 assists on its 40 baskets, which led to the Huskies shooting nearly 55% (40 for 73) from the field.
STILL OUT
UConn freshman guard Nika Muhl missed her second straight game while recovering from a sprained right ankle she injured in the opening round win over High Point. She was averaging 5.0 points, 2.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals.