Commentary: Assessing Game Time and Prime Time Stars

BY DI SPORTS STAFF | JULY 29, 2009 7:15 AM

Recently sports-section reporters put our heads together and discussed who made the biggest splashes this summer in the Prime Time and Game Time Leagues.

In Prime Time, many players stood out. Such newcomers as Cully Payne, Eric May, and Brennan Cougill impressed all of us in their first go-around.

Payne played like a pure point — in one game, he dished out 15 assists. May demonstrated an effective slashing offensive game. Cougill was a strong presence on the block while constantly cleaning the glass.

But the Hawkeye who stood out the most was Anthony Tucker. While other returning players such as junior Jarryd Cole and sophomore Matt Gatens certainly played well, Tucker sparkled.

One game in particular stood out to me. Tucker was matched up against May’s team, and the two squads went back and forth for 40 minutes. The contest wasn’t decided in regulation, so overtime ensued.

In the extra session, Tucker took his game to another level. His team had struggled to score at the end of regulation and in the first couple minutes of overtime, so the sophomore took over.
And he made it look easy.

Tucker knocked down outside shots and routinely got into the lane, banking in shots like Steve Nash.

With 25 seconds left in the game, and his team down by one, Tucker brought the ball up court. A screen was set for him at the top of the key, he dribbled left, stepped back, and nailed a 3-pointer.

The 6-4 point guard was fouled after the opposition couldn’t capitalize on its possession. He calmly knocked down two free throws, icing the game.

Tucker finished with 36 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds, but maybe the most impressive thing was his poise.

Performances like that could be a showcase for what Tucker is capable this upcoming season. I don’t think he will go off for 30-plus points consistently or hover around a triple-double on a game-to-game basis. He will, however, be a player opposing teams must focus on, especially teaming with Gatens in the backcourt.

I see Tucker bursting onto the scene much like Evan Turner of Ohio State did last season.

In Game Time, a few players caught our staff’s eyes. Freshmen Jaime Printy and Morgan Johnson both showed they are ready for Big Ten play.

Printy showcased a great shot, along with her versatility to play both guard positions. Johnson surprised her coaches with how well she played, and she seemed to benefit greatly from playing in the summer league.

Senior JoAnn Hamlin looks to be over the ankle injury she suffered last season and seems poised for a bounce-back year.

The biggest impact will come from junior Kachine Alexander, who led her team to a Game Time championship win for the second year in a row and locked up back-to-back MVP awards.

Iowa will rely on Alexander to produce big, and she seems eager to deliver. Last year, she became the first Hawkeye to record two triple-doubles in one season, and it’s very likely she could surpass that number in the coming season.

The 5-9 guard finished second team All-Big Ten last season and I see her finishing first team All-Big Ten and contending for the conference’s Player of the Year this season.

Tucker will be an integral part of bringing the Hawkeyes out of the bottom of the Big Ten. If he plays anything like he has during Prime Time, Iowa will finish much higher than last season’s 10th place.
Alexander will carry a large load for a team that lost five players and returns just three upperclassmen. She should lead Iowa to another finish in the top half of the conference.

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