Intramurals: Basketball team DRB leaning on unity


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Teamwork is easy to identify in college basketball and the NBA, but team chemistry tends to be missing in intramurals; teams usually consist of fraternity brothers or floormates who have never played together before.

But this isn't the case with intramural squad DRB. Five of the 10 University of Iowa freshmen on the team played basketball together at West Des Moines Valley High. A few also played on a club team before their high-school careers.

Connor Blythe, Alex Hahn, Tyler Brommel, Zach Kenkel, and Joe Maigaard all played on Valley High's junior-varsity team; Maigaard and Hahn went on to play on the varsity squad.

"We could have all played Division-III basketball, but we all wanted to go to Iowa," said Blythe, DRB's captain. "We knew our style of play would work well in the realm of intramural sports."

The five former Valley Tiger players filled their roster with high-school opponents they rediscovered while at the UI. Every team member had a general knowledge of each teammate's style of play, a familiarity that added depth and talent to what otherwise looked like a standard team.

"We really know each other's strengths," Kenkel said. "It helps to know who can play what position, who to pass to, and who can shoot."

The Tigers never made a deep run in the high-school playoffs during the DRB players' tenure, thanks in part to tough in-state opposition. The quintet wants to change that in intramurals, and the five have worked hard to succeed in both basketball and flag football.

"Right now, we just want to win our division," Brommel said. "Then we want to see how far we can fight in the playoffs."

DRB is scorching through its division on the back of its strong team selection and deep roster. The first game forced DRB to come back from an early 10-point deficit to win, 64-51. The team controlled its second game from the tip and showed its prowess by burying its opponent early to win by 33 points in a 66-33 game. DRB was down by 10 points at halftime of its third match before Maigaard took charge in the second half to lead his team to a 55-42 victory over a previously undefeated team.

Former Hawkeye point guard Jeff Horner (2002-06) started coaching Valley High's varsity team last season, when Maigaard and Hahn were on the roster. He raved about his former players in an email to The Daily Iowan.

"I'm just glad to see guys wanting to play basketball," he wrote. "Both of those guys were a big part of my first year. As a coach, it feels very good to see that they want to continue on and play basketball. They play the game right way."

This teamwide chemistry could be the drive that wins the players the championship they so desire. DRB possesses a rare completeness for an intramural team; the players look as if they haven't skipped a beat since their high-school careers. The team members' chemistry, shot selection, and willingness to share the ball make it easy to see why DRB is quickly becoming the intramural team to beat.

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