The Hyball: Keegan Murray Was Worth The Wait

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The Hyball is a weekly Iowa men’s basketball column

I’m done not leading this with Keegan Murray.

He featured in three of the column pictures last year, and there’s no reason it should be less after what he’s doing this year.

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Rumble, young man, rumble.

Less than a year ago, I wrote the following while making a “should he start?!” case:

…”What is he good at?”

– Great on ball
– Great off ball
– High IQ
– Positional versatility
– Nice size
– Good touch
– More, let’s say, explosive than the average player on the Iowa roster

Analysis: these are good things.

Well, these good things have turned into better things. The man is playing basketball in an elevated state. He is a step faster mentally and physically than the majority of competition.

  • Player 1: 24.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.6 blocks, 0.7 steals
  • Player 2: 24.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.1 blocks, 1.5 steals

Player 1 is Luka Garza’s senior season. Player 2? Keegan Murray, this year. And yes, smaller sample size vs. full campaign, and Murray has a lot more Big Ten play to take on, but look at those fucking numbers, y’all.

Ross takes this on below, so I don’t want to overemphasize the point, but I feel so lucky to watch him suit up for the black and gold. He is easily — easily — my favorite Iowa men’s player since I became a fan in 2004. I wasn’t sure what separated him so much until I saw this very obvious stat.

No first round draft picks in the entire time I’ve been an Iowa fan.

This is to not at all denigrate or invalidate Luka Garza’s illustrious career with a lazy “pro potential or bust” tag, but this is to say it makes sense why Keegan clicks for me specifically. Some people like players that grind. I like players that glide.

When I decided to run back this column — one that initially started due to the increased excitement of last season’s Top 5 Iowa men’s basketball team — it certainly didn’t initially have the same juice as a year ago. Then, nearly immediately, Keegan Murray made The Leap.

Honestly, y’all, this team might be more fun. As they say, happiness is a function of expectations. Last season, I wanted Iowa to make the Final Four and win the natty. These things very much did not happen. This season, I want Iowa to make the tournament and for Keegan Murray to wreck shit. Very much on the table.

So let’s stay here and keep eating.

The Hyball

“Strike where you like.”

Last Week

1/3 – Iowa 80, Maryland 75: Listen, I’m comin’ in hot with this one.

Real hot:

“But Bobby, it can’t get hott–”

Silence your mouth; this game seriously had everything.

Everything.

It was such a battle; not looking this up, but it felt like there was not a lead bigger than, say, six on either side the whole time. Keegan once again was Keegan. I say that not in a ho-hum way, but with all of the pride in the world. In a moment where I am having an extreme crisis of faith with Iowa football’s short and long term outlook, he is the perfect athlete at the perfect time. Ross put it best in his lede:

There’s a moment in noted cinematic classic Bloodsport where Helmer, one of the federal agents tasked with keeping track of Frank Dux (aka, Jean-Claude Van Damme), watches Dux show off his martial arts prowess and kick some ass. His response? “I’m just glad you’re on our side, kid.” 

I feel that way watching Keegan Murray hoop for Iowa most nights this year. Just completely and profoundly grateful that he chose to attend Iowa, that he chose to bust his ass to get better since he’s been here, and that he has blossomed into such an incredible player this season. Because, lordy, I have no idea where Iowa would be this year without him, but it definitely wouldn’t be anywhere good. 

Last word to Joey T…

This Week

1/6 – Iowa at Wisconsin (23): Ohhhh, hell yeah. A touch surprised to only see us as 2.5 dogs, but it just makes me that much more hyped. I will pay a $20 Venmo bounty to Keegan Murray for a yam on Brad.

Caitlin Corner

Vowed last year to make this section less about (her very deserved) awards and more about celebration of her actual game, so that goes right here:

Brad Davison Is Definitively A Senior.

My guess is this section will be a lot, well, longer next week.

* * *

So back to the gift that keeps on giving:

If you didn’t hear the story, a former Urbz player dropped this bomb on New Year’s Day.

It began, like it always does, with a lie.

We did not, and never would show a picture of Trayvon Martin. My gosh, no. That is absolutely false and you can check with any other player on my teams during that time to confirm what I am saying. Other players know what he is saying is false. I would never do that. He is crossing the line here. It seems people are just piling on now. But that never happened.

Then the ol’ pesky truth, like it sometimes does, came out.

That’s a pretty strong denial. It didn’t hold up for more than a few days. By Tuesday, Meyer had sheepishly admitted to the Columbus Dispatch that, yes, the photo of Martin had been used during a team meeting. 

Tom Ley:

There’s no version of events here that makes Meyer look anything other than incompetent. Either he knew what happened in 2017 and lied about it now to cover his ass, or he really had no idea that something so offensive had happened during a meeting at which all of his players were present and didn’t learn about it for four years. “Stupid or malicious” does neatly sum up Meyer’s coaching career, though.

This puddy pud pud pud pud.

Obligatory Michigan Section

They’re speaking of Caleb Houstan, one of Michigan’s highest rated recruits ever. The 5-star simply has not lived up to his reputation coming in despite getting 30+ minutes a game. I put together a supercut of his struggles vs. Rutgers, as the Scarlet Knights notched their first ever win against Michigan basketball in school history.

My guess is he’d guard* Keegan.

(* – be assigned to guard Keegan)

The Mini-Hybrid

Haha, Wisconsin.

Fuck, Iowa.

JSN… got even more after that.

And yeah, y’all, I saw the Petras interview. Will say this: was blown away by how likable that dude was (bringing up his mom three times in 70 seconds was laying it on a little thick, though).

God damn, Herbie.

Well, you lost, but heck yeah, Utah.

Et tu, Michigan?

Yeah, that’s probably the best way to put it. The young bucks seem hungry.

But for real though, Georgia was incredible to behold.

Losses like that sit about as good as they can. It’s not ever the outcome you want, but sign me up for that 10 times out of 10 to avoid an outcome like, say, the Double Doink.

* * *

National title quick take: was rooting for Alabama until, weirdly, seeing Georgia favored made me flip back to the team that ended my team’s season. Also this Nakobe Dean quote was poetry:

“Want the honest-to-God truth? I cried,” Smith said Wednesday. “I’m 20 now. I’ve been playing football since I was 4 — 16 years, haven’t won anything. Haven’t won a championship. I won a couple of bowl games but anything big, any championship, I never won yet. And that’s one thing that keeps me going.”

[…]

“That’s just something in the back of my head that I know that keeps me driving and I just want to win,” Smith said. “I could care less how it gets done, how pretty it looks. I just want to win.

What a baller; Michigan couldn’t do anything against his defense. So here is an article on how to root for Georgia.

Call the dawgs

If you see a fellow bulldawg sporting their Georgia gear or we’ve scored a touchdown, be sure to call the dawgs! Calling the Dawgs is one of the ultimate traditions that unifies Bulldogs all over. This chant is yelled at football games. Here’s how you do it:  

Yell “Go” and holding the “o,” then yell “Dawgs” and chant “Sic ‘em! Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!” Throw your arm up in a fist and wave it around as you call the Dawgs!  

My work here is done.

* * *

Ending this section on The World’s Worst Sport with a rare happy note:

Never more hyped the hell up to root for the Cougs.

Bill Walton’s Western Civilization 

Whoa.

No Context College Basketball
Wrapping It Up…

And that stat doesn’t even factor in at-the-line lyricism.

Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Go Iowa Awesome. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or email to bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com.