In Prime Time opener Gatens leads big turnaround

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | JUNE 16, 2009 7:11 AM

Incoming Iowa junior Devon Archie wasted no time producing in his first appearance as a Hawkeye in Monday’s Prime Time League opener, but his L.L. Pelling/Iowa City Ready Mix team failed to hold a halftime lead against Jill Armstrong of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors, losing, 110-80.

Archie scored the first basket of the game with a lay-up. However, last summer’s reigning MVP and this summer’s No. 1 overall pick Matt Gatens came right back with a coast-to-coast bucket of his own.

Armstrong started slowly, falling behind by 16 points before narrowing it to 57-51 at the half, even though Gatens had a hot hand. The Hawkeye sophomore-to-be tallied 19 points at the break, while he was also forced to handle the ball for his team and played almost all 20 minutes.

Junior-to-be and No. 2 pick Jarryd Cole of Pelling/Ready Mix showed his improved jumpshot in the first half, hitting two 15-footers and a 3-pointer from the left wing.

The second half revealed a different story for both Gatens and his squad. Armstrong rallied to take the lead and never looked back, eventually peaking at a 33-point lead.

Gatens was proud of his team’s 46-point swing.

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“Early on, we were really using the ball screens well and got to the hole early,” he said. “The second half, my teammates really played well. It was a good night for us, to be down by 16 points and for us to come back and win by 30 was pretty good.”

In the second half, Gatens switched his role to a facilitator, fueling his team’s furious run.

Armstrong/Lepic-Kroeger made 10 3-pointers, with Gatens hitting seven of them. He finished with a game-high 27 points to go along seven assists, five rebounds and one monstrous fast break dunk.
Cole thought the game was won with the outside shooting by Gatens and his crew.

“We built an early lead, and as you know, basketball is a game of runs and they definitely got on one,” Cole said. “We couldn’t stop it. Matt had a great game; he tore it up. They had good productivity from the 3-point line, and that contributed to it a lot.”

Cole played strong minutes, scoring 19 and grabbed six rebounds, and Archie had solid début totals of 10 points and seven boards. Cole was impressed by his new teammate but knows he has some areas to improve.

“He’s growing, we’ve been working on him,” Cole said. “I think he’s going to come around. He’s working on getting stronger with the ball and finishing in the paint, so I think he’s going to go a long way.”

Archie said he is still in the process of adjusting to his new surroundings, but is comfortable in his role.

“It’s a big change,” he said. “I’m not a big-time scorer, but I can score if I need to. I just come in and play my role; rebound, block shots, finish around the basket.”

With the league cutting back from eight teams to six this summer, its goal was to improve the overall competition. But it’s too soon for Gatens to tell a difference.

“I didn’t really notice anything yet,” he said. “There are always good players and good coaches. The teams have always been pretty competitive in this league.”

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