I don't have to explain to you guys how a Q&A article works, you're all bright and intelligent people. Today's Inquisition is with Ross from Black Heart Gold Pants, the SB Nation blog that focuses on all things Iowa Hawkeyes. If you want to see our answers for Ross' questions, you can do that right......... here.
AE: I'll be honest: I'm impressed that you guys realized that college basketball season has started given what's going on with your undefeated football team. I don't pay super close attention to college football, so was there any sign and/or expectation that this kind of start was possible before the season?
ROSS: Nope! I mean, there was some optimism about this team stemming from the fact that the schedule looked very manageable on paper and people were excited about what a new QB (C.J. Beathard) might bring to the offense, but 10-0 and in the discussion for the College Football Playoff? Not a chance. Iowa had this same manageable-looking schedule last year and managed to stumble to a 7-5 regular season. Plus, the last memory we had of Iowa football in 2014 was them them getting blown off the field by a decent (but not great) Tennessee team in the Gator Bowl. That did not inspire confidence that the greatest start in the history of the program was just around the corner. This has been an unexpected, crazy, and extremely fun ride for all of us -- I just hope it has a few more weeks left in it.
AE: Fran McCaffery's firey outbursts: Incredibly entertaining or horrifyingly out of control?
ROSS: I'd go with entertaining of those two choices, mainly because Fran has toned down the frequency (and severity) of his outbursts lately. I mean, he's a passionate guy, so I think he's always going to have passionate outbursts -- that's just the way he's wired. And as long as he does so without causing property damage and/or getting ejected from the game, I generally don't have a problem with it. It beats having an emotionless robot on the sideline.
AE: Those outbursts are really all I know about Fran McCaffery. I honestly can't point to one thing that works as an example of "this is what Iowa basketball is all about" off the top of my head. What's the one thing that you'd hold up as the main thing to know about McCaffery's teams?
ROSS: That's a good question. I don't know if there's one thing that really defines Fran's teams like Jim Boeheim and Syracuse's zone defense or Bo Ryan and Wisconsin's swing offense. I suppose pace might be his biggest calling card -- Iowa has basically been in the top 100 in the nation in fasted tempo since he arrived at Iowa, although they did dip to 197th last year. This year could also be a somewhat slower team (they're 155th in the nation so far, although, y'know, extremely small sample size alert), but I think they'll end up being aberrations in Fran's tenure. In general, Fran wants teams that can get out in transition and push the tempo. He also wants tall, long-limbed, versatile athletes who can play that style and play multiple positions -- Iowa signed five freshmen in last year's class and almost all of them fit that description.
AE: Jarrod Uhtoff won a lot of popularity points around the Marquette fan base for his transferring tiff with Bo Ryan a few years back. Two questions: How awesome is Jarrod Uthoff on a scale of 1-10 for that and 2) How has Uthoff worked out for the since transferring?
ROSS: He's gotta be a 9 for realizing that Bo Ryan is a tyrannical despot who wants nothing more than to choke the fun out of college basketball and that he should abandon that dystopia and help his hometown team return to the NCAA Tournament instead. I can't give him a full 10 because, well, he did choose to go to Bo-land in the first place, so his judgment clearly isn't flawless...
Uthoff has been very, very good for Iowa since he got here. He had to sit out another year upon arrival (2012-13), but since he became eligible in 2013-14, he's been a mainstay in the Iowa line-up and one of the best players on the Iowa roster. His arrival coincided with the development of several other players (like Devyn Marble, Aaron White, Gabe Olaseni, Mike Gesell, and Adam Woodbury) who helped get Iowa back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nearly a decade, but he's been a big part of the success of those squads. He's been a lot of fun to watch, though, thanks to his freakish size and versatility -- he's 6'9" but has the handles and quickness of a guard, he's dynamite from deep and good around the rim, and his tremendous wingspan makes it possible for him to close out on opposing players rapidly and get highlight reel blocks.
AE: Speaking of Bo Ryan, remember that time when he was maybe the most popular figure in college sports after taking the Badgers to consecutive Final Fours and then he immediately spent the next eight months flushing all of that goodwill directly down the drain by doing things like complaining about one & dones/graduate transfers, announcing his pending retirement, reneging on that announcement, waffling on that reneging, and then finally losing to Western Illinois AT HOME? That was awesome, wasn't it? As a follow-up, do you have a particularly fun/hilarious/mean memory of Bo Ryan?
ROSS: It's hard to get too excited about early season wins (or losses) in college basketball because so often they end up meaning very little. That said, seeing Bo Ryan and Wisconsin go down in their home opener to a middling team from the Summit League was a particularly tasty little bit of schandefreude. My favorite Bo Ryan memory -- other than all of the hilariously weird faces he makes whenever his team gets called for a foul that he doesn't agree with (which is, well, all of them) -- is when he became a bit of a national pariah for his actions during the Uthoff transfer saga. His absurd over-reaching on the restrictions about where Uthoff would be allowed to transfer made him look foolish and exposed the ridiculousness of the entire system.
AE: What's the deal with Adam Woodbury poking people in the eye on what appears to be a semi-regular basis? Does Marquette need to dig into their storage closet and get out all of Chris Otule's spare Rec Specs to protect their vision?
ROSS: Well, Woodbury mostly just pokes Badgers in the eyes, so I think your guys will be OK. Honestly, the Woodbury Eyepokegate thing got taken out of proportion last year. I think there was more clumsiness on Woodbury's part than genuine malice or intent to cause harm -- he's a big dude who sometimes moves a bit awkwardly. I don't think his role model is actually Ric Flair. Then again, I kind of wish more basketball players wore goggles, especially if they're old-school Horace Grant-style goggles.
AE: If a Marquette fan found themselves visiting Iowa City and was in need of a burger and a beer, where's the best place to go? It can be one place for each item.
ROSS: Fine question. Honestly, I think I'd recommend Short's for both. It's a newer place, but it's located right in downtown, has great burgers, and a huge selection of beers, including several local brews. Plus, it's owned in part by Nate Kaeding, an Iowa City native and beloved former Iowa football player. If you're on a budget, though, you might want to hit up BoJames -- they have a $5 (or maybe $6 now) burger basket that's a quality pub-style burger and fries (and far better than you'd get from a fast food place for comparable meal) and $3-4 big beers, which are 32 ounces. It's cheap beer, but hey, at that price, who cares, right?
AE: Ok, moment of truth time: Who's going to win on Thursday night, and what's going to be the X factor for them?
ROSS: I was nervous about this game before the season began, but Marquette's struggles in the first two games have given me a little more confidence. (Then again, Iowa scuffled with Gardner-Webb for a half and lost to DII Augustana in an exhibition game, so I'm not exactly exploding with confidence over here.) Marquette looks like a classic example of a young team that should be much more dangerous in February or March than they are now -- I'd much rather be playing them now than, say, in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa has a very experienced veteran core (5 players who are juniors or seniors and who have played a ton), but all of the depth behind them is very inexperienced and so far the continuity between those units has been shaky. I'm also a bit worried about who defends Henry Ellenson when Woodbury is off the court or what happens if Marquette's 3-point shooting decides to stop being atrocious. Still, I think this will be a close game and in a close game I trust Iowa's experience to put them over the top. I look for Uthoff to make some big buckets for Iowa down the stretch and for senior point guard Mike Gesell to make some key plays late (making shots, drawing fouls, dishing assists, forcing a turnover, etc.) to give Iowa the edge. I'll say Iowa wins, 72-68.
Thanks, Ross! Best of luck to you and your Hawkeyes tonight. You can read more about the Hawkeyes at Black Heart Gold Pants or follow them on Twitter at @BHGP. Marquette hosts Iowa as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games tonight. Tip off is scheduled for 8pm at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. If you can't make it on down, the game will be broadcast on FS1.