« November 2009 | Main | January 2010 »

3 posts from December 2009

December 20, 2009

Bye-bye Anthony? Probably

You can just hear a cynical Drake fan now, can't you?

"Great. Anthony Tucker stays out of trouble at Iowa just long enough to help the Hawks beat us. Just our luck."

But this is no time for cynicism. Tucker's suspension from the Iowa basketball team after his second arrest for public intoxication in 13 months is a serious matter for the kid and another lousy break for coach Todd Lickliter. It came only hours after Tucker scored 17 points in Iowa's 71-67 victory over Drake at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Tucker, who at 20 hasn't even reached the legal drinking age in Iowa, needs help. Getting busted twice for public intox in a little over a year shows he's got a problem with alcohol. And for someone with an alcohol problem, it certainly doesn't help being in Iowa City, where the downtown bar scene is so available -- and so tempting.

Tucker may well bolt before anyone from Iowa has a chance to sit down and talk to him. If he does, let's hope the light bulb above his head goes on and he figures out a way to get some help. Maybe he'll stick around long enough that somebody at Iowa can say, "Here's some people or places who can help you. Give them a call and listen to what they say."

If he does seek help, maybe he'll be sincere about shaping up this time. All his earlier talk about lessons learned seems pretty hollow now.

As for Lickliter, geez, the guy just can't get a break. I don't know him. I got out of full-time work before he took the Iowa job, so I've never covered him. But he seems like an upstanding guy who plays by the rules and tries to do things the right way. I like his self-deprecating sense of humor. It's a refreshing change from his predecessor.

Yeah, his team doesn't play the most exciting brand of basketball. When the shots aren't falling, it's downright ugly. But Lickliter doesn't deserve what's happened to him recently. Four  guys from last season left. A promising newcomer, Devon Archie, has been hurt and is yet to play. Lickliter himself had a scare when he was hospitalized for a torn carotid artery. And now one of his better players can't stay away from the sauce.

Tucker has some talent. For sure he can shoot it. If his Iowa career is over -- and that's probably the case --- there's always a coach out there who's willing to give a player one more chance. So it's a good bet Tucker will end up playing somewhere and helping that team.

It's just too bad he couldn't stay on the straight and narrow so he could do it at Iowa. That would have been good for him and definitely good for the Hawkeyes.

December 07, 2009

Walk of Wreaths for Hospice Care


If you're a central Iowan, have you been holiday shopping in Valley Junction lately? Some 80 hand-decorated wreaths now are in shop windows, and nearly 70 are eligible for silent auction bids to benefit Hospice of Central Iowa, an organization that is near and dear to my heart. The rest of the festive wreaths will find holiday homes during a live auction taking place on December 17, 7 to 8 p.m. in Railroad Park (between 4th and 5th Streets on Railroad Avenue in downtown West Des Moines). There will be carriage rides, hot cider and caroling, and that evening is the final Valley Junction holiday open house (5 to 9 p.m.)

The Valley Junction Foundation's first Walk of Wreaths honors woman business owner Caren Sturm, owner of The Lagniappe on 5th Street and one of the Foundation's longtime leaders. Caren, who died this summer, was a driving force in the art community and in Valley Junction. A respected, beautiful and passionate woman, Caren brought people together and gave artists a stunning location to showcase their creations. She also was a patient of Hospice of Central Iowa, and I was blessed to call her a friend for many years.

So stop in at Valley Junction in the next few days and look over the wonderful wreaths. Consider putting in a silent bid, or join us on December 17 for festivities and live auction bidding.


December 06, 2009

What one second can do for you

It doesn't matter how old you might be, you can always learn something new.

Take last night, for instance. Who knew Sully's Irish Pub in West Des Moines attracted so many Texas fans? We're there toasting a Drake basketball victory, friendship and any other excuse we can dream up for drinking Irish coffee and Guinness. The Nebraska-Texas game is on television and a huge cheer erupts when Texas kicks its game-winning field goal as time expires.

Funny thing, there's not a hint of burnt orange or Longhorns' gear in sight, yet a lot of people are really excited. Hook 'em Horns, right?

Well, not quite.

We're being facetious about all of this, of course. Those weren't Texas fans celebrating. They were Iowa fans -- and there no doubt were whoops and hollers in bars across the state when Hunter Lawrence's field goal sailed through the uprights. Because the Texas victory improved the Hawkeyes' chances of landing a berth in a BCS bowl.

But Iowa fans everywhere had to be squirming as Texas quarterback Colt McCoy rolled to his right with the final seconds ticking away. When he finally threw the ball away, the clocked showed zeros and the Nebraska players rushed the field, thinking they had won the game 12-10 and clinched the Big 12's BCS berth. But the play was reviewed, one second was put back on the clock and Lawrence came through.

And that one second has made all the difference. What if the Longhorns had committed one of the biggest blunders ever and really let time run out? What if the official review determined time had indeed expired?

Oh my.

A Nebraska victory would have sent shock waves rippling through the entire bowl scenario. It would have put the Cornhuskers in the Fiesta Bowl and dropped Texas into the at-large pool, from where the Longhorns might have bumped Iowa from a BCS game.

With two Big 12 teams in BCS bowls, Iowa State would have moved up in the pecking order and the conference wouldn't have had enough teams to fill its bowl commitments, which would have affected other bowls. If no Big Ten team got into a BCS game, everyone in the league would have moved down a notch and that also would have impacted other bowls.

Imagine the hand-wringing that would have ensued, not to mention the fact that TCU or maybe Cincinnati would have ended up in the BCS championship game against Alabama.

But one measly second and a calm, accurate kicker kept the BCS house in order. So Iowa fans, you might want to try to get Lawrence's cell phone number and send him some congratulatory text messages. And maybe a thank-you note to that replay official.

As for Texas, one touchdown and 13 points isn't going to strike any fear in Alabama hearts. After the way Nebraska manhandled McCoy and the Longhorns, the Tide defense has to be licking its chops.

Mack Brown and his offensive coaches had best be getting to work soon. They've got a lot to figure out between now and Jan. 7.