Home court

Michael Dougherty

Home is where the wins are in the Big Ten conference this year.
With seven teams currently ranked in the men’s basketball top 25, the conference is the strongest, from top to bottom, it has been in years, and teams are winning at home with more regularity than in the past.
Through Sunday’s games, the Big Ten has a 142-55 (72 percent) record in all games. At home, however, the 11 teams have won 84 percent (74-14) of their games. On the road, that percentage drops to 62 (68-41).
Iowa coach Tom Davis, whose team is ranked 14th, said the conference is the most competitive he has seen in his 13 seasons. The conference is also rated by two separate rating systems to be the top in the nation.
According to the RPI (Ratings Point Index), the Big Ten has a ranking of .6166, with the ACC in second at.5975. And the Sagarin ratings also have the conference at the top of its list with a score of 84.84, just ahead of the ACC’s 84.71.
“What you saw was life in the Big Ten this year,” Davis said after losing to the Gophers 75-70 at Williams Arena Saturday. “Literally every night is going to be like that, where you just get a great battle from a well-coached team — a team who wants it and plays hard.
“That’s what makes the Big Ten such a strong league; the intensity of the crowd, the noise and the enthusiasm,” Davis said
Gophers coach Clem Haskins said he knows why his 17th-ranked squad and the others in the Big Ten fare better at home.
“You sleep in the same bed, you talk to your girlfriend and she’s got you fired up, your friends, your buddies, you name it,” Haskins said. “You see the same students who are talking to you on campus and they get you juiced up. The food you eat is the same and you have the same routine.”
Haskins also talked about the crowds at Williams Arena making a difference. Minnesota is second in the conference in home attendance behind Ohio State.
“When you walk out here at Williams Arena or any other court, and you have that 15,000 plus fans showing that kind of support, it makes you play probably a little better than you’re capable of playing,” he said. “That’s why you shouldn’t lose at home, and that’s why I’m very disappointed that we’ve lost two home games. That’s two more games than I anticipated losing.”

You can’t put your knee there
In Saturday’s loss, Davis watched three of his players foul out — Dean Oliver, J.R. Koch and Jess Settles. Those three players fouled out even though they only played a combined 56 minutes of the game.
Outside the Iowa locker room after the game, a few people from Iowa’s entourage suggested the officials lost control of the game.
But Davis denied that statement, calling the referees “fair and good officials.” However, he did say they sometimes talk out of both sides of their mouths.
“It’s like they (referees) say in the nonconference — these are all hand-checking and you can’t put your knee up the guy’s butt, and you can’t put two hands on the guy’s back — but we get into a league game and you have all of that,” Davis said. “It drives me crazy.”

Tarver’s tally of thuggery
Last week we explained the bet that Dan “The Common Man” Cole had with a caller named “The Skipper.” The Skipper bet Gophers senior forward Miles Tarver would end the season with more fouls than points.
When Tarver was told of the bet he said he “wants some of that action.” Thus, we were under the assumption Tarver was gaining confidence in his offensive game.
However, Tarver corrected us, saying he agrees with the Skipper.
“No, I said I was going to get more fouls than points,” he said. “Tell that guy to call me.”
But when Tarver was asked to give his number out he said, “Wait, tell him I’ll call him, but tell him not to hold his breath.”
After his 11 points and two fouls in the Iowa game, Tarver’s season numbers sit at 60 points and a measly 32 fouls.
Heck, sophomore Antoine Broxsie picked up four fouls in only 13 minutes in the Iowa game. Come on Tarver, it’s time to get physical.
Old school
Haskins was asked about Michael Jordan’s retirement from the NBA, and he stuck to his old school guns when he said Jordan was great, but not the greatest.
“He is, without a doubt in the young people’s time, one of the greatest players to ever play,” Haskins said of Jordan. “In my time he was just another great player. I think I played with the greatest players who ever played — Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.
“I think today the media blows (Jordan) up,” he said. “He’s a tremendous player who deserves a lot of credit, but in my opinion no one is better than Oscar and Jerry West.”