The Hyball: Certain Lines

By Bobby Loesch on January 7, 2021 at 12:00 pm
Peaceful Protest
© Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Hyball is a weekly Iowa men's basketball column

Been writing about college sports online for the better part of 14 years. Usually, my stuff runs on Thursday, so I write around then in the week, but not always... sometimes earlier.

There has never been a time in these 14 years where words written on a Tuesday or Wednesday feel so frequently moot by the time Thursday hits.

What the fuck are we doing?

Every day feels like a new Worst Day until another new Worst Day takes its place.

Spent the bulk of Wednesday hopefully like the rest of you: glued to the TV and social media, horrified by what was going down in our capitol. Throughout the 3.98 years of the Donald Trump presidency, I've found myself perpetually asking "What's the line?" We don't have to go through all of the shit, but there have been a lot of times where this question was relevant. For those still standing on that side, I ask the question, somehow, yet again: what is your line?

How is this a fucking sentence.

So the District is being stormed, and, unsurprisingly, it doesn't just end when the work day ends. The coverage continued into the night. One death. Reconvened Senate. Serious Speeches.

/phone notification goes off

Minnesota at Michigan tip off (7:30 p.m.)


In a day loaded with TV screens, phone screens, and computer screens, it was doing nothing that felt the most exhausting. Threw the game on an iPad (yay, more screens) to create something in the background which ended up being a fine distraction for a few hours as states got certified deep into the night.

Still... how are we making them play? Today? Did they want to play? They may be 'college kids', but it's not like they don't know. Innocence isn't what innocence was.

We always look to our athletes. Always. Sometimes, they are not remotely qualified. Other times, they are the light.

Thirteen more days.

Dan Kildee, you get the last word.

The Hyball

"Yesterday was horseshit for what happened and today will be horseshit for what will not."

Last Week

12/29 - No. 10 Iowa 87, No. 19 Northwestern 72: This game feels like it happened ten billion years ago. I barely recall the details but do remember it being comfortable. Comfortable is nice.

1/2 - No. 10 Iowa 77, No. 14 Rutgers 75: MGoBlog's Brian Cook called this the game of the year in the conference. Though, objectively, I'm inclined to agree, this also reminded me a bit of the Chicago Bears in that you kind of look at yourself as the game clock winds down its final minutes and think "Whether we win or lose, I feel awful right now". By the time they showed the Wieskamp banker from two years ago, was fully in "They deserve it more" mode.

Turns out sports do not always have a 50-50 balance. Iowa eked it out. And it didn't even make you feel as bad as you thought it could.

I would also like to watch the Wieskamp winner again, so here we gooooo:

Next Week

1/7 (Thursday) - Iowa (5) at Maryland: Maryland is interesting because they went from "bad?" to "Beat Wisconsin?!" to "hmm, losing again" all in a span of eleven games. This ain't your auntie's Terrapin squad -- Bruno Fernando is not walking through that door. They definitely feel more 'college' than they have in the past, if that makes any sense. If you've made it this far in the column, it probably does.

1/10 (Saturday) - Minnesota (16) at Iowa (5): Michigan beat the brakes off Minnesota so badly -- there was, like, a 20-0 run at one point -- the broadcasters were having an open dialogue wondering if it would carry into the Gophers' next game. Well, Iowa is that next game. And Christmas Revenge is all the Hawkeyes should be thinking about. Also, Marcus Carr remains good-good.

Caitlin Corner

It's like the video game sliders move to slightly easier each week.

She's on the Wooden watch list now, too.

And if reading ain't your thing, may I interest you in this take-a-shower filthy behind-the-back step back from last week?

/shudders with giddiness

"Is Brad Davison A Senior"

Frent of the program Kevin Kaduk tweeted the grossest thing we've seen all year.

How is Davison the youngest of those guys?!?!?!?!?!

/shakes fist at the sky


The Ballad Of Ricky-Bobby

Each week, we check in with professional basketball writer Ricky O'Donnell for a quick exchange.

Bobby: Ron Harper Jr... any pro potential?

Ricky: I think so. He's a god damn moose.

Obligatory Michigan Section

I know I've Hunt Dick'd you all into oblivion already this year (new career high of 28 against Minny, btw), so let's talk about my little brother, Franz Wagner. Though he came in with a shooter/NBA rep last year as a freshman, an early season injury slowed what some thought would be immediate stardom. He started to come on a bit as the season progressed toward the tournament... but then it got cancelled (shouts national pandemic, still ongoing).

This year feels like last year's arc, only condensed. He started a touch slow but is now absolutely filling the stat sheet. And his impact on defense might be even more impressive. He had five blocks in a game earlier this week. And these weren't the "sneak into the post and get a cheap one from behind"-type. Three of four of them were playing on ball/perimeter defense. It started to feel downright Matrix-y, and this Ace stat cemented that feeling.

I'm a little afraid to post these but, damn the sample sizes, they're too good not to put out there. I went through Bart Torvik's player stats database to look for comparisons among high-major players, because it's hard to come up with a good player comp for the way Wagner is currently playing. I used conference-only stats because we're trying to project this idealized version of Wagner instead of do a totally sound long-term comparison. It's more fun this way. I made an honest effort not to get too crazy with the parameters so I wouldn't cut out too many players; as you'll see, that didn't do much for me.

Let's start with the offense. In the T-Rank era, which dates back to 2008, only four players have posted the combination of a usage rate over 18%, an assist rate higher than 15%, a turnover rate lower than 10%, a two-point percentage better than 60%, and a three-point percentage above 30%. They're all playing this season, so this would be unprecedented if it survives to the end, and the three other players on the list are very much point guards:

Okay, now the defense. The parameters: >15% defensive rebound rate, >5% block rate, >2% steal rate in high-major conference play. This list at least includes a lot more players. When it automatically sorts by the best ones, though, you get a hell of a list... of dominant college big men and big NBA wings:

Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, Tyler Zeller, Xavier Tillman, Terrence Jones, Trevor Booker, Jarrod Uthoff, Boogie Cousins, Okyeka Okongwu, Jordan Bell—this is nice company.


Something whimsy German to take us out:

The Mini-Hybrid

Simpler times. But he absolutely sucks. Made me sick to my stomach to see Ohio State succeed, but if it was gonna come against anyone...

Take it.

Honestly, after Alabama did this to Notre Dame, how mad could you be?

Wrote to Clemson Tom to see if he wanted to eat some humble pie after the dismantling. Awaiting response.

Update: Also realized I forgot to make a pick. 'Bama over tOSU, natch. Holy hell, Fields look good against Clemson though.

No Context College Basketball

Does Bill Walton need his own section? Please vote in the comments, and I'll informally tabulate. He is cannibalizing the NCCB section on a weekly basis... but maybe that's OK?

Wrapping It Up...

Wanna believe so bad.

Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Go Iowa Awesome. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or email to bobbyloesch [at]

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