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Hansen: Gatens the best at shooting Hoosiers back to Bloomington

[ 3 ] February 19, 2012 |


Register Sports Columnist

IOWA CITY, Ia. — At least twice in Iowa’s surprisingly easy victory over Indiana, Devyn Marble, Darius Stokes and Matt Gatens were all on the floor at the same time.

Mention the names Marble, Stokes and Gatens to a seasoned Hawkeye watcher and you’ll probably take a trip back in time. Their fathers — Roy Marble, Greg Stokes and Mike Gatens — all started for the Hawkeyes at one time or another in the last ice age.

Marble played for Tom Davis in the late ‘80s. Stokes for Lute Olson and George Raveling in the early ‘80s. Gatens for Olson in the mid ‘70s.

Though Greg Stokes played for two Iowa teams that held Indiana below 50 points, you can bet Mike Gatens never shot the Hoosiers back to Bloomington the way his kid did Sunday night.

In Iowa’s 78-66 romp over the 18th-ranked team in the country, Matt Gatens played all 40 minutes — making 7 of 10 three-pointers, 10 of 18 field goals in all — and finished with a career-high 30 points, the bulk of that handiwork coming in the second half.

“He was just in a great flow and rhythm,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward. “He’s not only one of the better shooters or guards in this league. He’s also one of the better ones in the country. That is a four-year guy who has been doing it at a high level — a great guy to have walk into your program.”

Actually, Fran McCaffery walked into Gatens’ program. Gatens grew up watching the Hawkeyes go to NCAA Tournaments. When it was his turn, the postseason bids stopped coming.

In many ways, it’s been a tough three-plus years for Matt Gatens. But after Sunday night, that 103-89 drubbing at Indiana a few weeks ago doesn’t smart quite so much.

You want to hear about his old man’s dubious claim to fame against Indiana? Back in 1975, Bob Knight’s Hoosiers went all the way to the national title game before losing. Before they did that, though, they throttled the Hawkeyes in Bloomington.

It was Mike Gatens’ junior season. At the end of the game, he missed one of two free throws and the Hawkeyes lost 102-49. To make matters worse, it was McDonald’s Night at the arena.

The deal was this: If the Hoosiers hit the 100 mark, each ticket holder got a free hamburger. If they held the visitors under 50, every fan got a soft drink. Accomplish both and it was burgers, fries and drinks for everyone.

“I threw a party for 17,500 Hoosiers,” Gatens said with a smile after his kid threw everything he had at the Hoosiers.

It was easy to smile Sunday night. Gatens the younger will finish his career with a 4-0 home record against Indiana.

When they were finished with the postgame TV interview, he and Melsahn Basabe passed through a throng of cheering fans as they ran to the locker room.

“Look what Melsahn did,” Mike Gatens said.

Coming off the bench for the sixth game in a row after starting every game of his career, Basabe looked like he enjoyed playing again. Those five blocked shots were the first clue.

When his slam on Marble’s miss gave the Hawkeyes a 12-8 lead, Crean called time. Basabe jogged to the bench with a big smile and drank in a nice ovation. The slam and the smile were welcome sights and just a hint of what was to come.

“Look what Brommer did,” Mike Gatens continued.

Andrew Brommer provided 10 energetic minutes, throwing down a one-handed slam after a missed shot, giving the Hawkeyes their biggest lead of the night.

“Look what Stokes did.”

He played only five minutes, but his rebound and bank shot kept the momentum going.

“I tell you,” Mike Gatens said, “those guys had as much to do with that win as anyone on the team. The energy they brought.”

Look at Aaron White’s 10 rebounds. Look at Marble’s seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals and 38 minutes.

But with Zach McCabe in foul trouble all game and Bryce Cartwright out with a high ankle sprain, Matt Gatens’ scoring was something Iowa couldn’t do without.

“I told Fran that Matt’s game has doubled since he’s been the coach,” Mike Gatens continued. “In my mind, Fran is the man for this job. I knew it when I hosted him at the Hawkeye Classic.”

McCaffery was at Lehigh the first time — the youngest head coach in the country at 26 — then later at North Carolina-Greensboro.

“Twice I spent three days with him when his team was here,” Gatens said. “When he was named coach, I said to myself, ‘This will work.’ ”

That was certainly the case Sunday.


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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Marc Hansen: Marc Hansen is a sports columnist for The Des Moines Register. View author profile.

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