Point/counterpoint: Without McNutt, who was Iowa’s Male Athlete of the Year?


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Matt Gatens, basketball

No list of the greatest basketball players in Iowa history is complete without Matt Gatens. The hometown guard left an indelible mark on the Hawkeye program, and he was the driving force behind Iowa’s ascent from the depths of the Big Ten standings.

He finished sixth in career scoring, second in 3-pointers made, tied for fifth in games played, and became only the second Hawkeye to score 1,600 points, grab 450 rebounds, dish out 250 assists, and swipe 125 steals.

But when Gatens’ career is remembered, his senior season will be most fondly recalled.

Gatens was among the best players in college basketball during a two-game span in February. The 6-5 guard scored 30 points against Indiana on Feb. 19, and then set a career high with a 33-point tally against Wisconsin on Feb. 23. Gatens had a streak of 12-consecutive three-pointers made, a school-record, during these two games.

He wasn’t a two-hit wonder, though. Gatens averaged 15.2 points per game, and was the only Hawkeye to play more than 34 minutes per contest. He also made 75 3-pointers in the 2011-12 season.

Only one other player finished in the Big Ten’s top 10 in points per game and minutes played, and the top five in 3-pointers made — Northwestern’s John Shurna.

The conference media honored his season, when he was named a second-team All-Big Ten selection.

— by Ryan Murphy

Matt McDonough, wrestling

Two words.

National champion.

That’s it and that’s all, folks. Throw in the towel, stick a fork in it, call in the dogs, or what have you.

Is this even a question? Matt McDonough rightfully deserves to be the male athlete of the year. His team thinks so — the junior earned the Most Valuable, Most Dedicated, and Most Pins awards at the Hawkeye wrestling awards banquet.

The fact that he didn’t win the DI‘s award is a bit baffling. I know I voted for him to be first; I put Marvin McNutt second.

Consider the year McDonough had: Big Ten champion, NCAA champion (he earned his second title and became only the 22nd Hawkeye wrestler to win numerous NCAA championships) and he got the chance to wrestle in the Olympic wrestling trials. That tournament didn’t go his way, but you have to acknowledge his valor when you take into account the 34-day and four-pound turnaround he had to make after his college season ended.

McDonough was also the consistent light and leader for Iowa during what was supposed to be a rebuilding year in which the Hawkeyes finished third at the NCAAs. He finished his year on a 28-match win streak and compiled a 36-1 record with 12 pins along the way. Two of the pins came in the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Tournament before he snagged two major decisions en route to the title bout.

And it was there that McDonough defeated Penn State’s Nico Megaludis 4-1 for the title and earned his 100th career win in the process. His overall record? 100-4, a .962 winning percentage that’s the fourth-best in Iowa wrestling history.

To top it off, he did it all while cutting a substantial amount of weight.

Let’s see McNutt slim down 20 pounds and repeat his explosive season.

— by Cody Goodwin