Howe: Hawks Take Step Ahead in Loss to OSU

It goes down as a loss, but I wouldn't get too terribly upset, Iowa fans. The better team won. The good news is that they played toe-to-toe with a Top 25 team in Ohio State. A week ago, the Hawks took MSU to the limit on the road. It's progress, but it's too early to say how much ground as been made up. Rob Howe breaks it down...kind of.

Damn, I fell asleep last night and the Hawkeyes were ahead most of the second half. I wish the Big Ten Network was never born. These freaking games are on too freaking late.

OK. We'll help you out. Ohio State caught up and the best player on the floor - Ohio State's Evan Turner - took over at crunch time. That's about it in a nutshell.

Freshman Eric May did a great job keeping the Hawks in it. Turner outlasted him. There was no shame in that AT ALL. Turner is a tremendous player. And to even be putting May in the same breath at this stage of their careers says a mouthful. It's actually incredible.

Iowa fans, you did a nice job in turning out. The crowd was loud, very loud at times.

I remember reading on these very boards some people questioning whether or not May (need background? Please see Greg Brunner story) was a DI prospect in basketball. I only saw May play a small amount in high school, and although he always looked like a great athlete when I watched him, I had no idea that he was to the level of some of the players on Ohio State. Yeah. That's a WOW.

Matt Gatens played 38 minutes after injuring his ankle in the pregame shoot-around during the afternoon. From some eye-witness accounts I heard, the sophomore looked doubtful a few hours before the game (that would be Gary Dolphin and Bobby Hanson). Damn tough kid...and a pretty good basketball player. I'm kidding. On the second part, of course. He's real good.

Cully Payne plays hard, real hard, and effectively. Even though Cole, Fuller and Cougill didn't shoot the ball very well Wednesday night, they combined for 23 rebounds.

Captain Devan Bawinkel hit his shots. John Lickliter was productive in his minutes. Brommer played steady in the time required of him with Cole and Fuller battling some foul trouble.

The Iowa team that took the floor against the Buckeyes on Wednesday night would have beaten the early-December Hawkeyes by 15 points, at least. The team took a step forward.

That's five contests, which included Top 25 programs (at) Michigan State and Ohio State, in a row where Iowa has been extremely competitive and improved. That's a reflection of everybody's effort, players and coaches. It's not one or the other.

Now, if the Hawkeyes lose at Michigan Saturday and come back in a week and fall at home to rival Illinois, they're sitting at 2-8 in the league and maybe a young group starts questioning things again. Emotion is a factor.

But, that's an "if" and only one scenario. The other would be Iowa wins one or two of the upcoming games and plays competitively in both. It looks like a program moving forward. That's what you should wish for as a Hawkeye fan.

Which is most likely to happen? You decide.

I saw a step forward tonight...again. In the end, however, the final product was a loss. That's six losses in eight league games nearing the midway point of the Big Ten's regular season.

I don't believe Coach Todd Lickliter looked like a man satisfied with moral victories. He scolded his team before patting it on the back both on the floor and in the post-game interview session.

Jarryd Cole looked tired of answering questions shortly after he started the interview. He handled them tactfully and candidly until the last one was asked. That's why he was elected captain for the second year in a row.

I missed Cully Payne but know enough to know he was upset about losing. All of the players and coaches were angry. That's a real good sign in my book.

This thing is as fragile a thin piece of window pane. One false move and CRACK. I don't feel anybody should classify this stretch as the program turning the corner. Folks, unfortunately, it ain't going to be that easy.

The uptick is an excellent sign. This ride appears to be a pretty good one. Let's see where it's headed.

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