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Morning Power Bar: Adreian Payne Passes

We look at this week in college basketball.

Syndication: Lansing Rod Sanford | Lansing State Jour, Rod Sanford, Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

This is a weekly column for BTPowerhouse that will cover a variety of Big Ten topics that might not deserve a detailed breakdown, but deserve mention. It will be similar to a news roundup with more thoughts and analysis.

So, let’s jump into our Morning Power Bar.

1. Former Michigan State star Adreian Payne passes away.

We begin with the most shocking news of the week, as former Spartan Adreian Payne passed away this week, after apparently suffering a gunshot wound. We don’t yet know all the circumstances, but the early reporting seems to suggest Payne was attempting to assist someone involved in a domestic violence situation at the time. Tom Izzo issued the following statement about the shocking events:

Payne played four seasons in East Lansing and most well know for his relationship with a young girl named Lacey Holsworth through her battle with cancer. The Spartans made the Elite Eight and three Sweet 16s with Payne on the roster. Our thoughts and prayers are with Payne’s family, all involved, and the Spartan community.

2. Michigan extends its assistant coaching staff.

The Wolverines got good news this week as the program extended its assistant coaching staff. The group is considered one of the better ones in the Big Ten and is loaded with experience. All three received pay raises just shy of $20,000 per year.

Whether this quiets down some of the head coaching rumors regarding these assistants remains to be seen, but it certainly can’t hurt.

3. Iowa assistant Kirk Speraw retires.

The Hawkeyes also got some big news this week as the program announced long-time assistant Kirk Speraw would be retiring. He spent 43 years coaching at the college level and 12 of those in Iowa City. Iowa issued the following press release on the topic:

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa men’s basketball assistant coach Kirk Speraw announced his retirement, effective June 30, after 43 years of coaching college basketball. The announcement was made Wednesday by head coach Fran McCaffery.

Speraw began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson on Iowa’s 1980 Final Four team and concludes as a 12-year assistant coach on McCaffery’s staff that won the 2022 Big Ten Tournament championship.

“I was fortunate that Coach Olson gave me my start in coaching here at the University of Iowa and I am grateful that Coach McCaffery and Gary Barta brought me back to my alma mater to finish my coaching career with a Big Ten championship,” Speraw said. “I want to thank my wife, Tracy, and our four kids (Drew, Brooke, Dustin, Bailey) for their support and patience throughout my coaching career. And I want to thank all the student-athletes that I have had the honor to coach throughout my career. Go Hawks!”

The Sioux City, Iowa, native helped guide the Hawkeyes to 20 or more wins eight of the last 10 years. Speraw and the Hawkeyes placed fifth or better in the Big Ten standings six of the last eight seasons, including a third-place finish in 2021.

In 2022, the Hawkeyes won four games in four days to capture the Big Ten Tournament title, their third in program history. Iowa finished fourth in the conference standings and won 26 games; the second highest single season win total in program history.

Speraw and the coaching staff recruited and coached a first-team All-Big Ten honoree seven of the last nine years, including two of the most dominating players in college basketball each of the last three years. Luka Garza was twice named national player of the year and a consensus first-team All-America selection in 2020 and 2021, while Keegan Murray was a finalist for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, earned consensus first-team All-America laurels and was named the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year in 2022.

Over the last three seasons, Iowa combined to win 68 games — fourth most over a three-year stretch in program history and most since 1987-89 — finished each season ranked in the AP Poll — something that has not been accomplished in more than three decades — and won 17 contests over AP Top 25 opponents. Additionally, Iowa has had the Big Ten scoring champion each of the past three seasons, which is something that has not been accomplished by any team in the league in more than 50 years.

In 2021, Iowa won 14 Big Ten regular season games, its highest total since 1987. The Hawkeyes earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, tying its highest ever seed in the tournament.

Speraw and the Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring each of the past three seasons, including ranking fifth nationally in 2021 (83.7) and 2022 (83.2). Iowa averaged more than 83 points in consecutive seasons for the first time in 27 years. Iowa was also tops in Division I in assist-to-turnover ratio in 2021 (2.0) and 2022 (1.74).

Speraw was the primary assistant who worked with Iowa’s perimeter players. In 2017, shooting guard Peter Jok became Iowa’s fifth Big Ten scoring champion in school history, averaging 19.9 points per game. Two years ago, Joe Wieskamp earned second-team all-conference laurels and was the only Division I player in the country with 400+ points, 200+ rebounds, 70+ 3-pointers and 25+ steals.

Speraw also helped mentor guard Jordan Bohannon to historic heights. Bohannon is Iowa’s career leader in assists (704), 3-pointers (455), free throw percentage (.887), double-doubles in points and assists (8) and games played (179). Jok and Bohannon combined for 174 triples in 2017, the most by a duo in a single season at Iowa. Bohannon is the only player in program history to total more than 2,000 points and 700 assists. Lastly, his 10 3-pointers at Maryland in 2022 established a new benchmark for 3-point field goals made in a game by a Hawkeye and broke the Xfinity Arena record.

Everyone certainly wishes Speraw the best in retirement.

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