Men's Basketball Team Opens Season Monday at Home

Nov. 10, 2005

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Iowa (0-0) hosts Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-0) Monday, Nov. 14, opening the 2005-06 basketball season in the first round of the Guardians Classic. Game time is 7:35 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500). The Iowa contest will follow a 5:05 p.m. contest between Colgate and Utah Valley State. Plenty of tickets remain for both nights of the event. The Monday night winners will meet at 7:35 Tuesday evening in the second round. There will also be a consolation contest at 5:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Radio: Iowa games are broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network. Gary Dolphin handles the play-by-play with color commentator Bob Hansen. Television: ESPN Regional will carry the game to a network of stations that includes KGAN Cedar Rapids, KDSM Des Moines, WBQD Quad Cities and cable systems in Mason City, Sioux City and Omaha/Council Bluffs. Larry Morgan and Mac McCausland will call the action.

Iowa has played 2,343 games since beginning basketball in 1902. Overall Iowa’s record is 1,396-947 (.596). That includes an 871-306 (.740) record in home games, a 525-641 (.450) record in games away from Iowa City, a 664-653 (.504) mark in Big Ten games and a 277-80 (.776) record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa has won 27 consecutive season-opening games, dating back to 1978, when it lost a road game to start the season. The Hawkeyes have won 42 straight home openers, dating back to a 62-54 loss to Ohio University to begin the 1962-63 season. Iowa Coach Steve Alford is 12-1 in 13 season-opening games, including wins in seven straight openers. Alford’s Iowa teams have recorded a win in all six season-opening games.

Iowa is ranked 20th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and the Associated Press rankings. This marks the first time the Hawkeyes have opened the season in the top 25 since 2001-02. Iowa, that season, was eighth in the first coaches poll and ninth in the Associated Press rankings.

Seven teams on Iowa’s 2005-06 schedule are in the initial rankings, including all three regional hosts in the Guardians Classic. Texas is ranked second by the AP and third by the coaches, Michigan State fourth by the AP and fifth by the coaches, Kentucky ninth and10th, West Virginia 14th and 15th, Illinois 17th in both, Indiana 23rd and 22nd and Iowa State 25th and 23rd. Additionally, five Hawkeye opponents are listed among teams receiving votes, including North Carolina State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes have a potential 10 games against the seven rated opponents and a total of 16 potential games against all teams which are either ranked or receiving votes.

Iowa has compiled a 277-80 (.776) record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa is 132-67 (.663) in Big Ten games and 145-13 (.918) in non-Big Ten games. Iowa has drawn over five million fans for men’s basketball games since the arena opened in 1983. Iowa has posted a 69-25 (.734) home record under Coach Steve Alford, including a 42-4 (.913) mark in non-conference home games.

Iowa City is serving as one of four host sites for the first and second rounds of the Guardians Classic. The other regional sites are the University of Texas in Austin, the University of Kentucky in Lexington and West Virginia University in Morgantown. The semi-final pairings have the Texas regional winner meeting the West Virginia regional winner in the first semi-final, while the Iowa regional winner will meet the Kentucky regional winner in the second semi-final contest. A bracket of the entire tournament is attached. The semi-finals and finals will be held Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 21-22 in Kansas City, MO. Both semi-final games, along with the title game on Nov. 22, will be televised on ESPN2.

Iowa concluded its pre-season schedule with a 75-48 win over Wartburg College Nov. 9. The Hawkeye defense dominated action in the second half as Iowa won the final 20 minutes by a 47-27 margin. Wartburg was held without a field goal for the final eight minutes of the game as Iowa forced 24 turnovers and held the visitors to 29.2% shooting for the night. Iowa shot 63.3% from the field and had just seven turnovers in the second half. Senior forward Greg Brunner led Iowa with 16 points and six rebounds, while senior forward Doug Thomas came off the bench to add 14 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Mike Henderson added 10 points and senior guard Jeff Horner added seven assists and three steals.

Iowa used a strong defensive effort and a balanced attack on offense in a 97-36 exhibition win over Brock University of Canada. Iowa held the visitors to 25.5% shooting from the field and forced 30 turnovers, while collecting 19 steals and recording eight blocked shots. Senior forward Doug Thomas came off the bench to lead Iowa’s scoring attack with 17 points. Thomas made 7-8 field goals, 3-3 free throws and added four rebounds in 15 minutes. Senior guard Jeff Horner scored 14 points while collecting six assists and five steals. Sophomore Carlton Reed added 11 points and senior Greg Brunner led the Hawkeyes with 10 rebounds.

Iowa’s defense stole the show as the Hawkeyes won two exhibition games. In those games, Iowa allowed opponents just 42 points per game. The two opponents shot just 27.3% from the field and 29.5% from three-point range. Iowa also registered 31 steals and 13 blocked shots in the two wins.

Larry Lessett is in his second year as the head coach at MD-Eastern Shore. Lessett and the Hawks posted a 2-26 mark a year ago. Lessett, a 1983 graduate of Cal State Northridge, is in his second season as a head coach, but he has nearly 30 years of coaching experience from high school through the professional ranks. He coached in the International Basketball Association and was on the staff of the Des Moines Dragons. Along with also serving as a professional scout he has served as an assistant coach at Mercer, De Anza College, Georgia Southwestern, Georgia College, Santa Barbara City College, Western New Mexico, Loyola Marymount and his alma mater, Cal State Northridge. Lessett has not coached against Iowa or Hawkeye Coach Steve Alford.

Iowa holds a 2-0 series advantage over Maryland-Baltimore County, defeating the Hawks 101-45 in Iowa City on Nov. 23, 1991 and winning 89-59 in Iowa City on Nov. 13, 2001. That contest early in the 2001-02 season also came in the first round of the Guardians Classic in Iowa City. Iowa is 4-0 all-time vs. current members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, holding two wins over Maryland-Eastern Shore and single wins over Morgan State and Coppin State. Iowa holds a 2-0 series advantage over Colgate, with both meetings taking place in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have never played Utah Valley State.

Iowa is making its second appearance in the Guardians Classic after placing second in the 2001 event. The Hawkeyes, that season, defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore (89-59) and Boston University (90-61) in Iowa City. Iowa defeated Memphis 75-71 in the semi-finals before a 78-77 last-second loss to Missouri in the title game. Along with Missouri, other Guardians Classic champions include Creighton (2002 and 2004) and South Carolina (2003).

Iowa has faired well while taking part in regular-season tournaments over the past 23 years. In that time Iowa has won the Great Alaska Shootout (1986-87), the Cal-Irvine Anteater Classic (1986-87), the Maui Classic (1987-88), the San Juan Thanksgiving Shootout (1992-93), the San Juan Christmas Shootout (1997-98), the Big Ten Conference Tournament in 2001 and its own invitational 22 times. In addition, Iowa was runner-up in the 1985-86 Far West Classic, the 1987-88 All-College Tournament, the 1988-89 Chaminade Classic, the 1991-92 Tampa Tribune Holiday Invitational, the 1994-95 Rainbow Classic, the 1995-96 Great Alaska Shootout, the 1999-00 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the 2001-02 Guardians Classic, the 2002 Big Ten Conference Tournament and the 2004 Maui Invitational.

Coach Steve Alford collected win No. 100 as Iowa’s head coach in a 73-63 victory over Air Force on Dec. 28, 2004. Career victory No. 250 came in the 88-53 win over Centenary in early December. His career mark stands at 266-160. Alford is 110-83 at Iowa, moving into fifth place on the Iowa list for coaching victories. Iowa’s top four coaches in career wins include Tom Davis (269), Lute Olson (168), Rollie Williams (139) and Bucky O’Connor (114).

Three experimental rules were in place during Iowa’s exhibition games and will also be used in the Guardians Classic. The experimental rules include the following:

  • Moving the three-point line one-foot behind the current three-point line to create a new experimental distance of 20 feet, 9 inches.
  • Widening the free throw lane by one foot on each side (Please note that the experimental lane will serve both as the three-second lane and the free throw lane.
  • Placing a restricted area arc which is to be three feet from the center of the basket ring.

Iowa’s captains are seniors Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner. Brunner, a native of Charles City, has started 32 of 33 games and averaged 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last year. He earned second team all-Big Ten honors in 2005 and placed second in the league in rebounding in each of the past two seasons. Horner, a Mason City native, has started 92 of 93 games over the past three seasons. He has led the team in assists in each of the last three seasons and a year ago averaged 14 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Iowa returns five starters and 11 lettermen from 2005. the returning starters include three players, Greg Brunner, Adam Haluska and Jeff Horner, who earned all-Big Ten recognition a year ago. Iowa returns 84.6% of its scoring from 2005, 90.9% of its rebounding, 81.6% of its assists and 78.5% of its steals. Iowa’s returning players shot 45.5% from the field, 38.7% from three-point range and 71.9% from the free throw line. The Hawkeyes return their statistical leader from last season in all categories,

The Iowa roster includes 16 players, including 10 who played prep basketball in the state of Iowa. The squad includes five seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. Along with the 10 Iowans, there is one player from California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and St. John’s, Antigua.

Seniors Jeff Horner and Greg Brunner joined Iowa’s 1,000 Point Club a year ago. Horner has scored 1,095 points in three seasons and is the only Iowa player ever to score over 1,000 points, grab over 400 rebounds and distribute over 400 assists. Horner was honorable mention all-Big Ten a year ago. Brunner has scored 1,035 career points and he has 676 rebounds. Brunner has ranked second in Big Ten rebounding in each of the past two seasons. He was named second team all-Big Ten last season and earned a gold medal at the World University Games this past summer. Brunner is tied for ninth in career blocked shots (84) and is near Iowa’s top 10 in career rebounds.

Iowa is seeking a sixth straight winning season, a streak that would rank as the second longest in the history of Iowa basketball. Iowa enjoyed seven straight winning seasons from 1950-56. Iowa has had five consecutive winning seasons on four occasions, 1979-83, 1985-89, 1995-99 and 2001-05. Iowa is one of four Big Ten teams to post a winning season in each of the last five years, joining Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Iowa advanced to post-season play for the fifth straight season a year ago, returning to the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa’s longest streak of consecutive winning seasons is seven, from 1950 through 1956. Pops Harrison, Bucky O’Connor and Rollie Williams all coached the Hawkeyes during those years. Only a 10-10 record in 1949 kept Iowa from 13 consecutive winning seasons (1944-56). Harrison coached Iowa to five straight winning seasons from 1944-48, Lute Olson coached Iowa to winning seasons from 1979-83, George Raveling and Tom Davis combined to coach Iowa to winning seasons from 1985-89 and Davis coached Iowa to winning seasons from 1995-99.

Every Iowa game throughout the 2005-06 season will be televised. Iowa will appear on national cable television (ESPN and ESPN2) as many as 11 times. Hawkeye games not selected for national coverage will be televised regionally by ESPN Plus, while several conference games will be televised throughout the Big Ten Conference viewing area as part of the Big Ten regional network agreement with ESPN Plus.

Iowa’s non-conference schedule has the Hawkeyes meeting teams from nearly every major conference in the nation. The Hawkeyes will participate in the Guardians Classic to open the season. Regional hosts in the event, along with Iowa, include Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas. The semi-finals and championship games will be held in Kansas City. Iowa’s non-conference home schedule is highlighted by games vs. Arizona State of the Pac 10 Conference and North Carolina State of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Iowa will also host Fairfield, Tulane and Valparaiso in the Hawkeye Challenge and Maryland-Eastern Shore, Colgate and Utah Valley State in the first round of the Guardians Classic. Iowa will meet Texas-San Antonio, Drake and Robert Morris in home games as well. Non-conference road games are at Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Saint Louis, along with the Guardians Classic. Following are pre-season views on some of Iowa’s non-conference opponents:

  • Kentucky is picked to win the Southeastern Conference and is ranked third nationally by Street & Smith’s
  • Texas is picked to win the Big 12 and is ranked fifth nationally by Street & Smiths
  • Iowa State is picked third in the Big 12 and is ranked 12th nationally by Street & Smith’s
  • Northern Iowa is picked to win the Missouri Valley by Street & Smith’s and advance to the NCAA Sweet 16
  • North Carolina State is picked fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference by Street & Smith’s
  • West Virginia is picked fifth in the Big East and ranked 22nd nationally by Street & Smith’s
  • In the Big Ten, Street & Smith’s picks Michigan State (8th), Indiana (17th), Michigan (19th) and Illinois (21st) Among its top 25
  • Iowa opponents in Lindy’s top 25 include Michigan State (3rd), Texas (5th), Wisconsin (14th), North Carolina State (15th), Ohio State (16th), West Virginia (17th), Kentucky (19th) and Illinois (22nd). Lindy’s has Iowa ninth.
  • Iowa opponents in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll include Texas (3rd), Michigan State (5th), Kentucky (10th), Illinois (17th), Indiana (22nd) and Iowa State (23rd). Iowa is 20th.

Senior forward Greg Brunner ranked second in the Big Ten in rebounding in each of the last two seasons. With the leading rebounder not returning last season or this season Brunner is the Big Ten’s top returning rebounder for the second straight year. This marks the fourth time in the last five seasons Iowa has had the top returning rebounder. Reggie Evans led the league in rebounding in 2001 and returned to defend his title in 2002. Jared Reiner led the Big Ten in rebounding in 2003 and returned in 2004.

Iowa’s Hawkeye Challenge, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, features Tulane meeting Valparaiso in Friday’s opening game and Iowa hosting Fairfield in the second game. All three teams are taking part in the tournament for the first time, while Fairfield and Tulane are making their first-ever trip to Iowa City and Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa defeated Valparaiso in Iowa City in the first round of the 2003 NIT.

For the first time since the 2001 season, Iowa will host a game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa returns to the event by hosting North Carolina State Nov. 30 in a game televised by ESPN2. The Hawkeyes hold a 1-3 record in the event. Iowa lost to Maryland in Baltimore in 2000 before defeating Georgia Tech in Iowa City in 2001. Iowa lost to Duke at the United Center in Chicago in 2002 and lost at Florida State in 2003. Iowa did not participate in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in 2004 and 2005. The Hawkeyes have not played North Carolina State since a 102-96 double-overtime loss to the Wolfpack in the second round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament. North Carolina State holds a 3-2 series advantage over Iowa, but the teams have never met in Iowa City.


  • Iowa’s schedule could include as many as 16 games against teams that advanced to post-season play a year ago, including 13 games against teams that were in the NCAA Tournament. That includes two games against Illinois (NCAA), Indiana (NIT), Michigan State (NCAA), Minnesota (NCAA), and Wisconsin (NCAA), single games vs. Arizona State (NIT), Iowa State (NCAA), North Carolina State (NCAA), Northern Iowa (NCAA) and possible games vs. Kentucky, Texas and West Virginia, three teams that were in the NCAA Tournament.
  • North Carolina State will be the first team from the Atlantic Coast Conference to play in Carver-Hawkeye Arena since Georgia Tech defeated Iowa 79-78 in the NIT at the conclusion of the 2003 season.
  • Arizona State will be the first team from the Pac 10 Conference to play in Carver-Hawkeye Arena since Iowa defeated UCLA 88-71 on Dec. 22, 1990. Iowa’s last contest against a Pac 10 team came in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in 1999-00. Stanford defeated Iowa 72-58 at Madison Square Garden in New York, handing Iowa its first loss under Steve Alford after the Hawkeyes had defeated Connecticut, the top-ranked team in the nation and the defending NCAA champion, in the semi-finals. The Hawkeyes will play a return game in Tempe during the 2006-07 season.
  • Valparaiso last visited Iowa City for the first round of the 2003 NIT when Iowa scored a 62-60 win. The Crusaders were coached at the time by Scott Drew, who had taken over for his father, long-time Valparaiso Coach Homer Drew. When Scott left Valpo to take over at Baylor, Homer returned from retirement as the head coach. Bryce Drew, Homer’s son and Scott’s brother, is in his first season on the Crusader coaching staff.
  • Iowa will look for its second straight mythical state title after sweeping Drake, Iowa State and Northern Iowa a year ago. Iowa hosts Drake, and former Hawkeye Coach Tom Davis, but must travel to both Iowa State and Northern Iowa to face teams that were also in the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

Steve Alford has posted an 18-30 record against ranked opponents as Iowa’s head coach, including a 3-7 mark in 2005. Iowa, last season, defeated 11th-ranked Louisville (76-71), 13th-ranked Texas (82-80) and 10th-ranked Michigan State (71-69), with losses to 11th-ranked North Carolina (92-106), at No. 1 ranked Illinois (68-73) in overtime, to 10th-ranked Michigan State (64-75) at home, at #20 Wisconsin (72-69), 75-65 to top-ranked Illinois in Iowa City, 59-56 to #22 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament and 64-76 to #23 Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament. Alford’s Hawkeye teams are 6-12 when playing teams ranked in the top 10, including wins over top-ranked Connecticut (70-68 in 1999-00), second-ranked Missouri (83-65 in 2001-02), fifth-ranked Ohio State (67-64 in 1999-00), seventh-ranked Illinois (78-62 in 2000-01), eighth-ranked Illinois (68-61 in 2002-03) and 10th-ranked Michigan State (71-69 in 2005). The 12 losses to top 10 teams have been three times to No. 1 (Duke, 2001-02 and Illinois twice in 2004-05), once to third-ranked (Illinois, 2000-01), twice to fourth-ranked (Michigan State, 1999-00 and 2000-01), twice to fifth-ranked (Tennessee, 2000-01 and Missouri, 2001-02), once to ninth-ranked (Kentucky, 2000-01) and three times to 10th-ranked (Michigan State, 2000, Illinois, 2002 and Michigan State, 2005). In the 48 games against ranked teams, Alford and his Iowa team are 6-9 in home games, 9-10 at neutral sites and 3-11 when playing ranked teams in their home arena.


  • For the first time ever, Iowa, in 2005, played all four teams that advanced to the Final Four. During the course of the season, Iowa played six games against the Final four teams, posting a 2-4 record. Iowa was the only team in the nation to play all of the Final Four teams, while Iowa and Duke were the only teams to collect two wins against the four teams.
  • With 21 wins in 2005, Iowa enjoyed a fifth straight winning season, a streak that matches the second longest consecutive winning seasons streak in Iowa basketball history.
  • The 19 wins mark the highest regular season victory total for Iowa under Steve Alford and the most for Iowa since 1998. Iowa won 18 regular season games in 2001 on the way to posting a 23-12 final record.
  • As a team, Iowa ranked 15th nationally in blocked shots per game (5.4). Individually, Erek Hansen ranked 19th in blocked shots per game (2.6) and Jeff Horner ranked 27th in assists per game (5.5).
  • Several new faces made big contributions throughout the 2004-05 season. The newcomers averaged 23.4 points and 12.3 rebounds per outing. Newcomers contributed 25 points or more in nine games and 15 or more rebounds in 10 games.
  • Iowa closed the regular schedule with three straight victories for the first time since 1997. It also marks the first time since 1987 in which Iowa closed the season with three straight wins, when two of the wins were on the road. Iowa had not won its final two road games of the season since 1991 when Iowa won at Indiana and at Northwestern in the final two road games.
  • Iowa’s back-to-back wins over Louisville and Texas marks the second time Iowa has won consecutive games against ranked opponents under Coach Steve Alford. The Hawkeyes, during the 2002-03 season, defeated 20th-ranked Michigan State 68-64 and eighth-ranked Illinois 68-61.

Iowa set three team records during the course of the 2005 season. The Hawkeyes set a single-game record for free throw percentage (100%) in the first game of the year, making all 20 of their attempts in a win over Western Illinois. Iowa established a season record with 174 blocked shots and a single game record with 12 blocked shots. The previous season record of 165 blocks was set in 32 games in 1993. The Hawkeyes had 12 blocks vs. three opponents, including North Carolina, UNC Greensboro and Saint Louis. The previous record of 11 blocked shots was set in an 80-65 win at Drake on Jan. 4, 1993.

Also in 2005, Iowa set three Carver-Hawkeye Arena team records. Iowa established a new mark when by shooting 67.5% (27-40) from the field in a win over Air Force. That percentage ranks as the second best ever for an Iowa team in a single game. The Hawkeyes set a record for free throw accuracy with the 100% (20-20) performance against Western Illinois. Iowa set a new high with the 12 blocked shots in wins over UNC Greensboro and Saint Louis.

Iowa made its 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, falling to Cincinnati in the opening round at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Iowa earned the bid after posting a 21-win season, including wins over Purdue and 10th-ranked Michigan State in the 2005 Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes hold an overall record of 27-23 in the tournament, advancing to the Final Four in 1955 (fourth), 1956 (second) and 1980 (fourth). Iowa had advanced to at least the second round in its last 10 tournament appearances before last season. Iowa reached the regional championship in 1987 and lost in the regional semi-final in 1988 and 1999.

Fans of the University of Iowa basketball program may join Iowa Coach Steve Alford and radio announcer Gary Dolphin each week during the season for the “Hawk Talk with Steve Alford” radio call-in show. The show takes place each week at Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Café in Iowa City from 7-8:30 p.m. and the dates are Nov. 28; Dec. 5, 8, 12 and 19; Jan. 10, 16, 23 and 30; Feb. 6, 12, 20 and 27; and March 6, 13 and 20.

Iowa will meet either Utah Valley State or Colgate in the second round Tuesday evening, with games times set for 5:05 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. for the two games. The winner of Tuesday’s second contest will advance to the Guardians Classic semi-finals, set for Monday, Nov. 21 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.