Wednesday, June 27, 2012

By: Randy M. Larson
Game Time League Commissioner

The Game Time summer basketball league for women began its' 12th season Wednesday June 20th with the competition level higher than ever. The NCAA prohibits more than 2 college teammates from playing together in the summer but this year neither Iowa nor UNI had more than 8 returning players available or healthy to play in the summer so Game Time was able to reduce the number of teams to 4, making the level of competition the highest it's ever been. Twenty one of the 40 roster spots are taken by Iowa or UNI players.

Sam Logic of Iowa was the first pick and she might have been even if everybody had been healthy. Jaime Printy and Kathleen Reynolds will sit out the whole summer of course, since they just had ACL surgeries, but Morgan Johnson, Theairra Taylor, Bethany Doolittle, and Melissa Dixon will all play after the first night's games. Taylor and Dixon are still recovering from knee surgeries and Johnson is recovering from knee tendonitis, while Doolittle was in a moped-car collision the day of the first game and suffered from bruises and scrapes but suffered no injuries that will hamper her.

Jacqui Kalin and Mercedees Morgan are among the notables from UNI that will also sit out due to injury, as will highly regarded sophomore-to-be from Kirkwood Bianca Dufelmeier.

The draft order, taking into consideration the limited basis Johnson, Taylor and Dixon will play, was Sam Logic, Bethany Doolittle, Morgan Johnson, Trisha Nesbitt, incoming frosh to Iowa Kali Peschel, Theairra Taylor, Melissa Dixon, Amber Kirschbaum, Mackenzie Westcott from Bradley, and freshman-from-UNI Sharnae Lamar.

The first games were largely a story of missing players. The full Coralville Hy-Vee team coached by Mike Stoermer defeated the team that was missing its' first two picks, Morgan Johnson and Theairra Taylor, 75-68. I coached the losers, sponsored by Cullen Painting/Monica's and Bob's your Uncle restaurants, and was proud of how competitive they were without their 2 injured stars. Hy-Vee was led by UNI sharpshooter Brooke Brown with 21 points on 8-10 shooting, including 4-5 from 3 and 1-1 from the free throw line. Athletic and smooth frosh-to-be-at-Iowa Kali Peschel looked ready for a spot in the rotation as a swing player right away this fall, as she shot 4-5 from 3, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, and scored 18 points for the winners.

Post player Jessica McDowell led Cullen Painting with 16 points, shooting 5-7 on 2's, 1-4 on 3's, 3-4 on ft's. They showed great balance with Megan Hayes from Coe scoring 13, incoming UNI frosh Jessi Pauley had 11, UNI's Brittni Donaldson had 10, and former Iowa Wesleyan great Melanie McCreight added 8. Cullen Painting won the battle of the boards 43-35 but shot just 5-15 from the line and Brown and Peschel were just too good, along with Iowa's Trisha Nesbitt's leadership.

The second game illustrated the same problem as the LL Pelling/Culver's team was missing their first 2 picks, Bethany Doolittle and Melissa Dixon. Dixon, who showed us last summer the incredible shooting and high-intensity defense that Iowa fans got to see when she exploded onto the scene as a freshman filling in Printy's spot in the starting lineup when she got hurt, will play June 27th, as will Doolittle, who is completely healthy and showed a lot of scoring and rebounding ability last year for Iowa. But the short-handed Pelling team got completely overwhelmed by Sam Logic's team, 86-55, although it was only a 13-point deficit at half.

Sam Logic's team, sponsored by Vinton Merchants/McCurry's, was led by good balance. UNI's post Jen Keitel had 19 points and 10 boards; another UNI post Amber Kirschbaum posted 15 points and 17 boards; and Logic and Bradley's Westcott added 9. Sharnae Lamar showed she is already a great college defensive player, as she used her incredible quickness and intensity to harass Logic all over the floor, and led them in scoring as well, with 21, shooting 3-7 from 3. The big players for Vinton led them to a 58-37 rebounding edge, with incoming-frosh-to-UNI Alyssa Johnson leading Pelling with 10.

Game Time resumes Wednesday June 27 at 6:00 and 7:30 at the North Liberty Recreation Center, just off Hwy 965 on Cherry Street. The gym is air-conditioned, games are free, and almost all the players are predicted to be able to play in this 2nd game. See schedules, rosters and info at or contact me anytime at

Monday, June 25, 2012

Prime Time Leage Commissioner's Report Game 2

By Randy M. Larson
Prime Time League Commissioner

Prime Time's second night continued the great matchups we saw in the first set of games. Games are set for the next 4 Sundays at 3 and 4:30 and an early arrival is recommended, as the gym was full 30 minutes before game time. The first game featured the considerable but young talent of the Vinton Merchants/Mike Gatens Real Estate team, with its imposing frontline of Adam Woodbury, Zach McCabe and Jarrod Uthoff, plus the sparkling shooting of Josh Oglesby vs. the talented and experienced duo of Aaron White and Eric May, along with the defensively impressive freshman-to-be from Indianapolis Anthony Clemmons.

My team was able to become the only undefeated team after only 2 games, winning a close game, 93-82, with all three frontliners grabbing 9 rebounds or more and scoring in double figures. Zach McCabe followed up his 27 point opening night with 22, plus 10 boards, shooting 5-8 on 2's, 3-5 on 3's, 3-5 on FTs, and guarding Aaron White well. Adam Woodbury shot 5-10, scoring 10, and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. Jarrod Uthoff scored 12 on 5-8 shooting, 2-2 from the line, and grabbed 9 rebounds. Josh Oglesby shot 6-9, all 3's, and 2-5 on ft's, to score 20, but also had twice as many assists as any player on either team, with 6. Josh’s defense, occasionally guarding May, was pretty good.

Woodbury, after not scoring opening night, was effective in the low post, fouled less, and except for missing all his free throws, was very solid. Adam continues to impress with his eagerness and passing.

Uthoff was efficient offensively, as his box score shows, and can play three positions. McCabe is a rock, very strong and determined, and a very versatile offensive player. Oglesby's 6 3's included several from NBA range and weren't all wide-open. Chance Miller, the senior-to-be combo guard from Iowa Mennonite High School played and shot well, scoring 11.

Aaron White for the defeated Culver's/Iowa City Ready Mix team also played well, getting to the line 13 times, making 11. White scored 22, shooting 4-9 on 2's, 1-3 on threes, and grabbing 7 rebounds, tied for second on his team. May shot 7-14 on 2's, 0-5 on 3's, and 3-6 on FTs for a total of 17 pts, and led his team in rebounds with 9. May and White each had 3 assists, tied for high on their team. Clemmons made 4 out of 5 2's, 1-4 of his 3's, and scored 11 to go with 1 assist and 6 rebounds. Clemmons is an athletic and aggressive defender; not as accomplished yet on offense but is clearly a Big Ten player on defense already.

The Culver's team benefited from a strong game from William Penn player Keith Steffeck who scored 20 and grabbed 7 rebounds. He was 8-12 from the field, including 3 threes.

The second game of the afternoon featured the Mike Gesell/Melsahn Basabe/Jarryd Cole/Kyle Meyer group vs. Devyn Marble/Ali Farokhmanesh/Gabe Olaseni. Sponsored by Realtor Jill Armstrong and coached by Dan Ahrens, Gesell's team trailed most of the way before pulling away in the last 8 minutes to win 104-98. Gesell handed out 9 assists, grabbed 5 rebounds, and scored 14, shooting 4-9 on 2's, 2-3 on 3's (making him 7-9 in 2 games), and in general was very impressive. Gesell got a bit tired at the end, but he played almost the whole game.

Basabe scored 29 including 11-15 from the line, where his stroke looked better, and 9-18 on 2's and 0-3 on 3's. Basabe is playing hard, grabbed 14 rebounds to lead everybody and help his team to a dominating 59-27 edge, and when he gets the ball facing the basket, he is almost unstoppable without a double-team. Jarryd Cole scored 32, and was even more efficient, shooting 8-8 from the line, and 12-17 from the field, with no threes attempted. He had 11 rebounds. Kyle Meyer is stuck behind these 2 fabulous big men and while he played most of the game, only attempted 2 shots, making them both, and got 7 rebounds. Darius Stokes looked excellent on defense, and had 7 rebounds as well, in pretty limited minutes.

For the LL Pelling/McCurry's team, led by Devyn Marble's 34 points, it was just a case of not being big enough. Coach Kevin Lehman (longtime UNI assistant and former UNO head coach) always has his team playing together and moving the ball, but the rebounding deficit was too much to overcome last night. Ali Farokhmanesh had a rare off shooting night, going 2-7 on 3's, and even missing half of his 4 free throws. Gabe Olaseni continues to impress with his developing offensive ability and his defense is ready for the Big Ten now. Olaseni scored 9 points, but of course he's going up against very good match-ups. 

Devyn may have to develop his rebounding ability if he is going to be a 3 next year, as he only pulled down 4, to go with 1 assist. He was efficient offensively, shooting 8-12 on 2's, 4-7 on 3's, and 6-8 on free throws.
Another packed house, another night of great effort by every current and incoming Hawk, and both games were close. I heard that Fran McCaffery got a full report from his brother who was in attendance, and who was very impressed with the crowd and the level of play.
Remember, the Iowa and UNI women play in the Game Time league on Wednesday nights, at 6 and 7:30. See all details at

Sunday, June 24, 2012

TRS Sports: Prime Time BBall League-Preview/Game 1 Recap

By:  Randy M. Larsen, Prime Time League Commissioner

As Prime Time heads into its' 26th season, the interest has been tremendous from Iowa fans. The confidence and excitement in what Fran McCaffery is doing, the talent of the returning players, and the potential of the best recruiting class since George Raveling handed over to Tom Davis's expert handling the players that led to Dr. Tom's team being ranked #1 in the country, all make this summer the most anticipated ever. 

The first games were on Tuesday, June 19. There was no delay in getting to the big story-line of the summer: are Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury ready for Prime Time? Can these 2 Top-50-in-the-nation recruits earn significant playing time for the Hawks right away, despite the considerable returning talent represented by Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Zack McCabe, Melsahn Besabe, Josh Oglesby, Eric May and Gabe Olaseni? 

Mike Gesell answered with a resounding yes, scoring 27 points on 5-6 shooting on 3's, 9-19 overall, 4-6 from the line, handing out 5 assists to lead his Jill Armstrong of Skogman Realty team, and grabbing 6 rebounds. Gessell showed athleticism, unselfishness, defensive intensity and quickness, and a calmness belying his age. Gesesll was guarded by the wonderfully athletic blur named Andre Murphy who wanted to walk-on for the Hawks 2 years ago before off-the-court trouble sidelined him and Gesell handled himself beautifully. One game isn't enough to say for sure, but at this point, it looks like those who predict Fran McCaffery will hand the ball to Gesell day one as his starting point guard, allowing Marble to play 2 or 3, look correct.  

Adam Woodbury also played very well, with lesser numbers, but impressing knowledgeable observers by how he threw himself on loose balls, passed the ball out of the post, and with his defensive intensity and rebounding. He started in a front-line also featuring Zach McCabe and Jarrod Uthoff, and he showed he is that rarest of big men; a 7-footer who plays with intensity, spirit and with a good understanding and feel for the game. He only took 5 shots, hitting McCabe for many of his 10 3's on passes back out, of which Zach made 7, and he grabbed 8 rebounds, to go with his 3 assists. Blocked shots aren't on our stat sheet, but he affected or blocked several shots, and while he got in foul trouble which limited his minutes a bit, the man he guarded, Jarryd Cole, mostly had to score from 18 feet, instead of in the paint. 

The other 2 incoming freshmen that are on-campus this summer, Kyle Meyer and Anthony Clemmons, are less well-known. Meyer only played a few minutes as he overcomes some lingering tendinitis but Clemmons had a major impact on his Prime Time team. He guarded Ali Farhokhmanesh, the European pro from Iowa City West and UNI, now playing in Austria, and did a tremendous job. He displayed quickness, strength and determination, holding Ali to 5-14 shooting, including 2-8 from 3, and 13 points. Clemmons did not make any of his 4 3 point attempts, but did go 3-4 on 2's in the second half, ending up 3-7 on 2's, 0-4 on 3's and 0-1 on ft's, for 6 points. Clemmons team lost a very competitive game, 97-94. Clemmons showed he can play both guard positions, certainly so on defense. Coach McCaffery has added a very important component in his master plan with Clemmons because he adds defensive ability at both guard spots, as well as depth and athleticism. 

The other big recruiting excitement is about transfer Jarrod Uthoff, who came home from Wisconsin, determined to find a better fit in playing style. Despite not being allowed to hear one word from the coaching staff at Iowa, he believed he will be welcomed at Iowa and has made the leap to join the surging Hawks. Because I coached him in Prime Time after his junior year in high school and had stayed in constant contact with him and loved his feel for the game and unselfishness, as well as his skills inside and out the year before being named the High School Player of the Year in Iowa, I selected him with the # 1 pick in the draft, despite my belief that Aaron White, Devyn Marble and Zach McCabe had all demonstrated more in college.  

It was clear on opening night that Jarrod felt the effect of the spotlight, as he hesitated in shot-selection at times, shooting 0-5 on 3's. But he battled hard, threw himself on loose balls, and shot 6-10 on 2's, 1-2 on ft's, and scored 13, to go along with a team-high 13 rebounds. I liked his defense and he is very fundamentally sound. To get 13 rebounds on a frontline including Woodbury and McCabe was impressive. While he does need to get stronger, he is a very versatile offensive player and one of the most conscientious players I've coached. He might be the best Hawkeye in making post moves, is an outstanding 3-point shooter, and can handle the ball well. After a year learning from Coach Ryan, and with the maturity to understand that he'd improve more from a year under Coach McCaffery than he might playing junior college ball, Jarrod Uthoff is an outstanding and exciting addition to Iowa's talent.  

The 2nd biggest storyline is about the competition amongst the players for playing time next year, something McCaffery has said from the beginning is the biggest advantage of the talent he's recruited. In practice next fall, the talent at center and power-forward from White, Besabe, Olaseni, McCabe, Uthoff and Woodbury will create some great competition, and it's starting right now. 

Looking at how they did on the first Prime Time night, we start with Aaron White, who went 15-21 on 2's, many of them dunks, 1-4 on 3's and 7-10 on ft's for 40 points. White led his Culver's/Iowa City Ready Mix team with 16 rebounds, and benefited from favorable matchups against the other team's frontline, which consisted of Gabe Olaseni, Tucker Wentzien from Upper Iowa and Kyle Schlaak, who is a Hall-of-Famer from Winona State. White ran the floor very hard, and passed well. They trailed by 13 at half and rallied in the second half to almost win. White showed he is an accomplished Big Ten player and probably wound have been the first pick of the Prime Time draft by most coaches.  

Zach McCabe was equally impressive, considering he was matching up with Besabe and Cole, and his numbers were terrific. He shot 7-10 on 3's including 5-6 in the first half, as his Vinton Merchants/Mike Gatens Real Estate team roared out to a 27 point lead. McCabe finished up 4-7 on 2's, 7-10 on 3's for 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping his team to a 50-37 edge on the boards. 

Eric May played and shot well, going 9-13 on 2's, 1-3 on 3's, scoring 21 points, and had 5 rebounds and 3 assists. May looked physically fit. Devyn Marble has a Tuesday night class, (which is why the only other Tuesday night game, the championship, will be held at 9 pm), and got to the game at halftime. He shot 5-10 from 2, 1-3 on 3's, 2-2 on ft's, scoring 15, had 2 rebounds and 1 assist. 

Melsahn Basabe put up 18 points for the team with Gesell and Cole, shooting 8-14 on 2's and 2-4 on ft's. Basabe grabbed 7 boards but had no assists. Basabe was slow to get out to McCabe at times. 

Gabe Olaseni was very impressive to the fans who hadn't seen his progress. He's improving rapidly. He shot 4-8 on 2's, 1-2 on ft's, and grabbed 6 rebounds. I thought his low-post moves were good and he is a defensive presence. Olesani is not yet fundamentally sound, but his enthusiasm and live body are obvious. For the first time in my memory (30 years) the Hawks have more than enough good big men. 

As a footnote, Jarryd Cole played terrific. He's gotten a job playing in the south of France, after playing in Iceland last year and next summer is marrying Trisha Nesbitt, the tremendously attractive point guard for the Iowa women. Look on YouTube for his wedding proposal.  

Prime Time's games are the 5 Sundays at 3 and 4:30 at the North Liberty Rec Center, at the corner of Cherry Street and Hwy 965 in North Liberty. You can find information at

All games are free and the gym is air-conditioned, but space is limited and the first night was packed so get there early!  

Game Time, the NCAA-approved summer league for college women plays on Wednesdays and some Mondays in the same location, with games at 6 and 7:30. Next game is Wednesday, June 27. There are 9 Iowa women playing and 12 UNI players, as well as others from Creighton, Bradley and more. 4 of Iowa's 5 incoming freshmen are playing, including the athletic swing player Kali Peschel from Minnesota who looks ready to play immediately.