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Hawkeye Gone 02/12/2010

Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
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Tucker on the end of Iowa's bench during his recent suspension

The University of Iowa announced today that basketball player Anthony Tucker has asked for, and been granted, release from his scholarship. The sophomore from Minnetonka, Minnesota, presumably will now transfer to another school.

Let the hand wringing begin. There have been many defections from the Iowa basketball program during coach Todd Lickliter’s three plus seasons as the head coach of the Hawkeyes. Now, with the departure of Tucker in season four, the coach Lick detractors will come out loudly. But, honestly, what choice did he have? The departure of Tucker has nothing in common with the players previously departed. Tucker’s is a sad story. His well chronicled issues with alcohol have led him to two suspensions in his first 2 seasons. Tucker came back this year after a lost season last year that found him arrested for public intox, having been found passed out in an alley behind an Iowa City bar, then being academically ineligible for the second semester. He entered his sophomore season with high hopes of puting that tough year behind him. Then, after starting Iowa’s first 11 games, came an altercation with a cab driver and another arrest for public intox. It was strike two in Iowa’s “three strikes” policy for student athletes. Tucker was suspended, and had made enough progress in the U of I’s progressive discipline program to be back practicing with his team mates. He even dressed for the last two games, but saw no action. The final straw for Tucker may have been Wednesday’s game against Northwestern. It was a game in which Iowa never trailed and lead by as many as 19 points in the second half. Despite this, Tucker saw no minutes on the court, even in mop up time. Message received. By asking for his release now, Tucker can contact, and be contacted by other schools, should anyone have interest. Hopefully for Tucker, a fresh start in a new location will help him get past his issues. For his sake, I hope so. But none of that is the fault of Coach Lick. He handled this situation well in my opinion.

For Hawkeye basketball fans, suffering through another losing season, the timing of this departure could not have been worse. Iowa had just picked up its

Tucker is a Hawkeye no more

third Big Ten win of the season. The team had performed well as of late. It was beginning to feel as if that light in the distance may, indeed, be the end of the tunnel, not just another oncoming train. Now the memory of multiple defections after each of the past few seasons are back in full force. Who will be the next to leave? Coach Lick has brought an entirely new system to Iowa. The most important thing he now needs is continuity. In each of the past two seasons, the team began to gel as the players finally seemed to grasp their roles. That appears to be happening again. What must happen now is for these players to return next season. With the recruiting class due to arrive next year, there is hope for the future. And, now, there is another scholarship available. I do not expect another round of players quitting the program. The players on the squad currently are still here because they want to be here.

The loss of Tucker was not Lickliter’s fault. He did everything right, in my opinion, including not rushing Tucker back in to the mix. He stuck to his guns, and hopefully the rest of the players will see that the decision is in their best interest, and Tucker’s. Interestingly, Tucker’s departure may end up helping Coach Lick and Iowa more than if he had stayed. As to the players that have left previously, let us not forget that they were the quitters. They either did not figure that they would get much playing time in this system or they left for greener pastures. What makes anyone think that this team would be any better off had they stayed? Do not lose sight of the fact that none of the players that left the program are in any danger of turning up on an All-American team any time soon. Several went down a division in competition when they left Iowa. One is out of basketball with legal problems of his own. This is not an effort to disparage those that left. It is just a reminder that they may not be the players many now seem to think that they were.

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