BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | JULY 14, 2009 7:15 AM
Even though the matchup of Iowa’s two sophomore guards was seemingly the evening’s highlight on Monday, the past and the future of Hawkeye basketball stole the show.
The combination of incoming Iowa freshman Brennan Cougill and former Hawkeye Darryl Moore proved to be the difference for Vinton Merchants in a 105-103 victory over Jill Armstrong of Lepic-Kroeger Realtors.
Iowa sophomore Anthony Tucker, one-half of the obvious attraction on the court, dropped 19 points on four 3-pointers in the first half against Armstrong while managing the game well en route to the win.
Cougill poured in 35 points, most of which came in the paint off of second-half chances and hard-nosed battling in the post against former Drake player Aliou Keita. He did have one 3-pointer in the first half, which reminded the crowd in the North Liberty Community Center that he is no one-trick pony.
The Sioux City native still believes he has work to do though before the 2009-10 season gets into gear.
“I thought I played well, battled down low,” he said. “I air-balled a free throw, but there’s always something to work on and get my legs back under me a little bit this summer.”
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Moore, a 1998 graduate of Iowa, had 18 points of his own highlighted by a monster dunk in the first half over one of the Armstrong players. The solid overall play of the old-timer made it feel like Bill Clinton was still in office, as he took over the game from the start.
Cougill, just entering his first season as a Hawkeye, has learned a lot from playing with Moore.
“He’s just been telling me how physical the Big Ten can be and the sort of things you can get away with under the hoop that you might not have in high school,” Cougill said.
Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens, who made up the other half of the evening’s attraction with Tucker, had a quiet night. His shot was off, with many of his attempts falling off the front of the rim on his way to a 3-point performance.
“It was difficult,” he said. “I tried to regroup at halftime, but I couldn’t quite get my legs under me.”
With a rough time putting the ball in the hoop, the City High product focused on setting up his teammates, tallying 10 assists.
Cougill is not the only one to get a few tips from an older guy. Half of Gatens’ teammates are ex-college players who have proven to be helpful.
“Guys like Matt Schneiderman have been here before,” Gatens said. “They’ve been here before and been through college and had success in college, so to watch how hard they play all the time is beneficial.”
The game was a 20-point blowout in Vinton’s favor for most of the night, but Armstrong turned it on late in the second half, pulling within two at the buzzer on the third-consecutive 3-pointer from UNI-bound Matt Morrison.
“Matt had a great game, especially at the end with those 3s,” Gatens said.