Gorney: One Tall Hawkeye

Feb. 25, 2005

Seth Gorney is used to one of the cheesiest lines in the book: What’s the weather like up there?

The poor kid has had to listen to that one since kindergarten, when the 7-year-old was 5-feet tall. Gorney, Iowa’s freshman center, is now an even 7-feet and 245 pounds.

“I always say, `I don’t know what the weather’s like. I’m assuming it’s the same as it is down there,'” said the no-nonsense Gorney.

Gorney has also had to put up with living in a world simply not built for someone so tall.

“I duck under plenty of doors, and cars are hard to find,” he said. “I drove a Thunderbird, and that was about as big a car as I could find. Other than that, it’s SUVs and trucks.”

What about clothes?

“I duck under plenty of doors, and cars are hard to find. I drove a Thunderbird, and that was about as big a car as I could find. Other than that, it’s SUVs and trucks.”
UI freshman center Seth Gorney on life as a 7-footer

“Shirts and everything are easy to find,” the size 17 shoe-wearer said. “Pants are unbelievable. I have to order out of a big-and-tall catalogue most of the time, and sometimes they don’t even have it.”

So you’re saying it can be difficult having a 40-inch waist and a 40-inch inseam?

“I’m stuck trying to special order pants whenever I can,” Gorney responds. “If I go to a store and happen to find them, then I buy them because I’m not going to find them anywhere else.”

Gorney gets his height from his father, Mike, who is 6-10. His mother, however, is just 5-4. Gorney’s height has always been obvious, and he says it may intimidate some people. He’s also had a hard time finding dates.

“I looked and I found a couple (of girls) that were taller and things didn’t happen,” Gorney said. “In college you start meeting people, so I hope it’s a big thing for girls – they want a taller guy rather than someone shorter.”

The intimidation factor can sometimes work out really well. As a freshman in high school, Gorney was heavily recruited by the baseball coach to become a pitcher. Football coaches also wanted him to play tight end.

But Gorney stuck to basketball, where he set school records for points in a game (43), season (513) and for career points and rebounds. He helped Butler High School to a 21-2 record his junior year and a 21-4 record his sophomore year.

“I started playing in third grad,” Gorney said. “I made an all-star team, and I was really excited about that. In fourth grade it was the same thing. I played with the school team, and then in about sixth grade, I got to thinking I could really go somewhere with this. I was recruited by colleges in eighth grade.”

Succeeding in basketball n Vandalia, OH, can be a difficult task. Even for somebody 7-feet tall, Gorney isn’t the tallest person he knows.

“I had a teammate on my high school team for three years. We were both listed at 7-feet tall, but he was about a half-inch taller than me. It didn’t stand out too much, but when we got back to back it showed.”

At one point, three members of the Butler team were over 6-feet, 9-inches tall. And all lived within a block of each other.

“We were a little intrigued by that,” Gorney says.

One teammate, Josh Higgins, now plays at Western Kentucky. “We’re pretty good friends, and things seem to be going pretty well for both of us right now,” said Gorney.

Things are going especially well for Gorney, who came off the bench against Minnesota for five rebounds and a steal. He limited the Golden Gophers’ big man, Jeff Hagen, to six point.

“It was great to get out there and run the floor; it was wonderful,” Gorney said after the game. “It was a big step for me not to be playing a lot of minutes and then coming out under that kind of pressure. It was good training for what’s to come.

“I always thought I’d have my chance, but I never thought it would come as early as this,” Gorney added. “But as far as coming in and doing as much as I did, it really helped me.”

Head Coach Steve Alford said Gorney’s improving performances gives starter Erek Hansen and backup Doug Thomas reason to look over their shoulders.

“If anything should get Erek and Doug’s attention, it’s a guy with the name Gorney,” he said after the Minnesota win. “It was a big positive having Seth come in and do what he did.”

So perhaps the next time somebody asks Gorney what the weather is like at his level, he can say, “Pretty good.”