The Hyball is a weekly Iowa men's basketball column
The first ever Hybrid debuted 13 years ago in the fall of 2007.
The column was originally called Big Ten Rambler (I know, weird) and debuted on the Chicago-based sports blog Tremendous Upside Potential. They covered every team except the Cubs and posted punk rock videos on the weekends. It was absolutely my home. I "applied" to work there, not knowing it was run by a college kid who was actually a year younger than me.
In one of my first ever game previews, I weighed in on Michigan-Appalachian State (!!!), referring to the latter squad as an "unqualified check casher".
We all know what happened after that.
Since then, Michigan has had four head coaches and beaten Ohio State one time.
I do not bring any of this up to shoehorn in The Worst Part Of My Easy Life for the millionth time. I bring it up to table set.
In a lot of ways, that game dictated the next 13 years of what The Hybrid would be. It was a column about renewed hope -- but not in the lame/Cubs way. It was about an annual begrudging belief getting comically destroyed in a myriad of ways. This happened not just because of my disposition but also because college football sucks and shouldn't exist.
College basketball? We're cool. Much happier memories.
Should've known it was going to be easier on my psyche after I won my first ever bracket in 2001 (thank you, Shane Battier). From there, I've seen two Michigan natty appearances, three Iowa/M Big Ten Tournament champ titles, and countless dope games at my favorite college basketball venue, Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
I lived on Lincoln my last two years in Iowa City (all four years spent on the west side; separate issue for a separate column), and the proximity to Carver was incredible.
It was there I really started to fall in love with the nuances of the sport. Growing up a Michigan/Wazzu/DePaul fan, I did not have much of a regular season relationship with college basketball. It was mostly following the tournament and of course, taking mountains of shit for the Chris Webber timeout. Was, like, six when it happened, but it always felt fresh because my friends are colossal assholes.
Carver was different. It was ice cream, older fans leaving early regardless of the score, slanted aisles that made you feel like you were only a few steps away from the court, no matter where your seat was.
It was at Carver I watched Purdue coach Gene Keady* yell at Matt Kiefer to tuck his shirt in as he ran out onto the court (the Iowa student section loved that), trolled Ohio State fans with "Where's Oden at?!" after we beat them the year after he left (they were so collected and polite about my unfounded shit talking; fuck them), learned the names of the worst Big Ten refs (what up, Ed Hightower?!), and experimented with body paint.
And sure, I fell into a bad "ThE NbA iS WaYyYyY bEtTer" phase for a while -- but no, it's basketball. Basketball is always awesome. A loud high school gym, the Action Figure god-level of the pros, shooting hoops in the driveway or park, and, yes, college.
I... like college basketball. It almost feels foreign to say after so many years of college football destroying my mind, body, and soul. But they are different sports we sometimes associate with each other. And one can be good.
This column was created because a) I believe the 2020-21 Iowa men's basketball team can do something special, and b) CFB was shorter this year and didn't burn me out as much as usual. Did I anticipate us losing to Gonzaga -- slightly decreasing what could have been an even bigger boost in enthusiasm -- and the column's debut syncing up with Christmas Eve and then New Year's Eve? Friends, I did not. But here we are. I went shirtless, OK?
(* - the weirdest hair I've ever seen)
"Every opinion is bad."
No. 1 Gonzaga 99, No. 3 Iowa 88: Yes, the game of the year was not much of a game, and sure, our defense Achilles heel was beyond exposed... but this is a glass half full column, homie. Let's choose, for now, to file this under the "Iowa could not have played worse" folder. Improvements can be made.
No. 4 Iowa 70, Purdue 55: Confirmed: giving up 55 points more fun than 99. It is probably too easy to shoehorn in the "Iowa is re-committed to defense!" storyline because Purdue is not Gonzaga and the Big Ten conference is allergic to scoring, but, still, it was nice.
And Purdue's 7'4'' Canadian center reminds me of a Saint Bernard.
Its super weird watching Luka Garza guard Zach Edey cause I never thought Luka could look small, but Luka looks small.— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) December 23, 2020
It makes me feel uncomfortable. pic.twitter.com/gL9d7Rt3eE
Garza looking like we'd look getting guarded by Garza.
12/25 - Iowa (4) at Minnesota: First Big Ten road game. Interested to see Minny without certified cool player Daniel Oturu. Junior guard Marcus Carr is No. 3 in the conference in scoring (23.4 PPG), only two spots behind Mr. Garza.
12/29 - Iowa (4) vs. Northwestern: Let the record forever show I saw this game in person.
Our gal was on her triple double shit last week.
SYNERGY SPORTS WOMENS PLAYER OF THE WEEK GOES TO.....@CaitlinClark22— Synergy Sports U (@synergysstu) December 23, 2020
Caitlin is averaging 27 ppg and just recorded a triple double yesterday! Caitlins stats and shot chart are going crazy!
Keep it up @IowaWBB and best of luck the rest of this season! pic.twitter.com/Y2RfDQpsfM
"Is Brad Davison A Senior"
This wouldn't be a basketball version of The Hybrid without some negativity. Because I enjoy college basketball a lot more than college football, we needed to go outside of the program (feels so weird not to spell it "progr'm" like in football) for inspiration. That said, it's almost like he knew this was gonna happen.
Brad Davison on his best behavior before The Hyball debuts later this week. pic.twitter.com/t0yScG9hqZ— Bobby L. (@bobbystompy) December 23, 2020
Who knew he had it in him?
The Ballad Of Ricky-Bobby
My former editor -- and current professional basketball writer -- agreed to check in weekly.
Gonzaga is 2018 Villanova level to me— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) December 19, 2020
I told him this was good enough. It is Christmas Eve, after all.
Obligatory Michigan Section
Will keep this short for the holiday, but one name to remember: Hunter Dickinson.
Enjoy your loser, homogeneous Playoff, losers. More to come next week.
Ever think about how we are in the bizarro world where Alabama is the most likable playoff team?— BRING THA TOYZ: A PUBLIC ENEMY CHRISTMAS (@JayDSarkar) December 21, 2020
No Context College Basketball
Wrapping It Up...
I've known it for a while but today confirmed that college football, my favorite sport to follow, is completely 100% broken. I just hate that it's gotten to this point. What a bummer.— #7 indiana football ben (@VT_Ben) December 21, 2020
Old habits, sorry.
Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Go Iowa Awesome. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or email to bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com.