Iowa takes another one on the chin

Despite the fact that his name is "Brennan" and he hails from Iowa, I am sorry to say that Iowa forward Brennan Cougill and yours truly have no relation. Despite what some of the more confused and less friendly commenters on this here blog may think, my last name is Brennan, not my first. Close, but no cigar.

Still, that doesn't mean I can't empathize with the common Iowa basketball fan, who just got another bit of bad news -- the latest mile of a four-year bad news marathon -- that Cougill has been deemed academically ineligible for next season. Instead of playing for the Hawkeyes, Cougill will enroll in nearby Kirkwood Community College. Cougill says he still hopes to rejoin Iowa in the future.

It's another blow for a program mired in a brutal rebuilding phase, and it's especially tough for Iowa fans to swallow. Cougill's departure leaves "the interior of Iowa's team comically thin," in the words of always-excellent Black Heart Gold Pants scribe Adam Jacobi. Jacobi, like most Iowa fans, was hoping Cougill's size and three-point shooting touch would make him a unique weapon in new coach Fran McCaffery's uptempo offense. Instead, the Hawks will likely roll with senior Jarryd Cole, who's rehabbing from an injury and managed a mere 8.1 points per game in 2009-10. He'll be joined by true freshman Melsahn Basabe, the No. 63 overall power forward in the class of 2010. After that, there's not much there. Comically thin, indeed.

Yes, the state of affairs in Iowa City is depressing. But there is some hope on the horizon. Our own Dana O'Neil profiled McCaffery today, and the good news for Iowa fans -- besides the truckloads of dollars currently being pumped into the previously decrepit Carver-Hawkeye Arena -- is that McCaffery isn't backing down from his promises of an up-tempo, fast-paced offensive attack.

Despite what Malcolm Gladwell might think, up-tempo hoops isn't always the best strategy for undersized, under-athletic teams. But Iowa's going to lose games anyway. Until the talent level improves, McCaffery might as well lose those games in style. Winning will really bring the fans back to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In the meantime, aesthetics will have to do.