Twenty thoughts from Iowa-Michigan basketball

De-icing and Temperance, Canadians and carnival-barkers

Published: January 23 2014 | 12:55 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:33 am in

Only a total fool who does what I do for a living would expect pity of any sort for something work-related, so I'm not going there, girlfriend.

But was it ever cold at 6 a.m. leaving the Days Inn next to the airport in Toledo, Ohio, where I caught a flight to Chicago, and then to Cedar Rapids. And was it ever cold at O'Hare. And was it really cold walking from the Eastern Iowa Airport to my car in the parking lot. Thankfully, this was one of the rare times when I remembered where I parked.

But it's cold for everybody. Now, some quick thoughts before I thaw:

1. I hadn't been in Crisler Center since it was Crisler Arena, which was a $52 million renovation ago. What was once sort of a dull facility is now bright, sleek, and full of amenities.

One that's shown here is an interactive game of the Pop-A-Shot basketball game. Only here, the players touch the screen, step back to several feet, and make shooting motions at the screen. The people at the Iowa-Michigan game Wednesday night seemed to love it.

2. There's a lot more carnival-barking by public-address announcers at college basketball venues these days. Everything's a show now. Here we are now, entertain us.

3. I like Michigan Coach John Beilein. The guy's 60. He was educated at Wheeling Jesuit University. He was head coach at places like Erie Community College and LeMoyne College. He doesn't act like he has invented basketball. He sure can coach it, though.

4. Having GPS on my phone is a very good thing.

5. When did Canada get so good at producing basketball players other than Steve Nash? Right now, the college game has Nik Stauskas of Michigan, Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, Melvin Ejim of Iowa State, Tyler Ennis of Syracuse, Brady Heslip and Kenny Chery of Baylor, Kevin Pangos of Gonzaga, Oliver Hanlan of Boston College, Jordan Bachynski of Arizona State -- these aren't just players. These are aces.

6. Flight attendants on commuter jets work hard for the money. One flight attendant per plane. Planes filled with cranks and dolts. All sorts of weather-related and non-weather related things that cause high anxiety for the passengers are of no fault whatsoever of the flight attendant.

The pilots are pretty important to the operation, too.

7. Michigan is, yes, a football school. The crowd at Wednesday night's game didn't get to the 12,000 mark until well into the game because traffic was snarled because of rotten weather. But had it been Iowa City, or Champaign, or Madison, or East Lansing or Bloomington or West Lafayette or Lincoln, and the home team was 5-0 in the conference and facing a Top Ten opponent? The fans would have gotten to the game on time.

8. The state of Iowa has had more than one very good team at the same time. But I'm not sure it ever had two squads in the same season that were as entertaining to watch as Iowa and Iowa State are this season.

9. After getting snowed in at Ann Arbor Wednesday night, Iowa's team got home Thursday. It will leave for Northwestern Friday for a Saturday morning game. That makes it a tester. The Hawkeyes have to get right back on the road, right back on the horse. I expect an Iowa win, as would most. But I am curious to see what kind of bounce the Wildcats are getting from winning three of their last four games.

10. After seeing Northwestern lose at Iowa on Jan. 9, 93-67, what would you have said if I had told you the Wildcats would win three times before Iowa got to Evanston on Jan. 25?

11. I never thought Wisconsin was a Top Five team.

12. I did think Ohio State was one, at least potentially.

13. If Michigan State beats Michigan Saturday night and Iowa wins as expected at Northwestern, next Tuesday's MSU-Iowa game in Carver-Hawkeye should have the best pure basketball atmosphere for a game there since ... a long, long time ago.

14. There is a town in Michigan called Temperance. I didn't know that until driving past it Wednesday on the 50-mile drive from Toledo to Ann Arbor.

15. I've been to Ann Arbor many times over the decades. It's one of my favorite college towns. But not in mid-January.

16. Iowa football graduate assistant coach DJ Hernandez had one day last fall in which he told Hawkeye tight ends about his brother, Aaron Hernandez. Here's Eric Edholm's story about it at

17. In the four games since it allowed 93 points to Iowa, Northwestern has surrendered 43, 54, 47 and 60. The 60 came in a double-overtime win over Purdue. It was 46-46 at the end of regulation.

18. In all my days of grade school, high school and college, we never had classes called off because of wind-chill. Then again, we never had to deal with a polar vortex.

19. I can't leave town for 24 hours without Justin Bieber getting in trouble. Jeepers!

20. Spring is coming.


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