'MAD' Moment: March 1982

Aug. 6, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following was written by Ron Maly and first appeared in the March 13, 1982 edition of the Des Moines Register.

PULLMAN, WASH. – Hold up on the funeral arrangements. Iowa’s basketball team isn’t dead yet.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it counts,” Coach Lute Olson said after the Hawkeyes stormed back in the last half for a 70-63 victory over Northeast Louisiana in the first round of the National Collegiate West Regional Friday night.

Iowa didn’t get a basket – and just one free throw – from Michael Payne, the 6-foot 11-inch freshman who came into the game as the scoring leader with an 11.9 average, but had five players in double figures while ending a three-game losing streak.

Newsmen wanted to talk about Iowa finally getting the “monkey” off its back afterward, and Olson admitted that the problem has been difficult for his players to shake.

The “monkey” talk had to do with Iowa clutching down the stretch of the Big Ten season. Like last year, the Hawks faded in the final week of the season and lost the Big Ten title.

Consequently, the question was whether the squad could recover in the tournament and not continue the slump like it did while losing to Wichita State, 68-56, in its opening Midwest Regional game in 1981.

“I wish our players couldn’t read,” Olson said. “They’ve had to put up with a lot of things since the Michigan game (which they lost, 68-58, and played very poorly).

“Our players aren’t motors. They have feelings. I think it helped that they played here and not back home.”

Bob Hansen led the scoring Friday with 19 points, and it was his five straight points that lifted the Hawks into a 58-53 lead. Iowa never again trailed while pushing its record to 21-7.

Kenny Arnold connected for 14 points, Steve Carfino 12 and Kevin Boyle and Greg Stokes 11 each. “We were a little tight at the start,” said Boyle, “probably because we’d been in a slump. We began hearing things from people that we don’t play well down the stretch.”

Northeast Louisiana, which came into the game with a 19-10 record, leaped to an 8-0 lead and was in front 29-28, at halftime.

But Iowa was much more aggressive at the start of the last half, and scored the first nine points after intermission to open a 37-29 advantage.

“We wanted to be more aggressive with pressure defense,” said Olson. “We needed it to shake us out of some unbelievably bad shooting in the first half.”

The Hawks hit just 33 percent in the opening half, but made 15 baskets in 24 tries for 62.5 in the last half and finished 45.6.

“Iowa played a great defensive game, and kept the ball away from Wilson more than we’d have liked.”
NE LA Coach Mike Vining

Donald Wilson banged in 18 points, Terry Martin 16, Gerald Morris 15 and Vernon Butler 10 for Northeast Louisiana.

“It seemed like the score went from 53-53 to 58-53 in about a second,” said Northeast Coach Mike Vining. “I had to call a timeout to remind our players that the game wasn’t over yet.

“What we came here to accomplish couldn’t be done in 20 minutes.”

The Indians were playing in their first NCAA tournament and certainly didn’t embarrass themselves before a crowd of 9,420 that was nearly 3,000 below capacity.

The victory means Iowa will play Idaho, a team with a 26-2 record, at 3:32 p.m. (Iowa time) here Sunday in the second round.

“Idaho has a `home’ game Sunday,” said Olson. “But we’re looking forward to it. They play good defense and their match-up zone is a good one.”

By “home” game, Olson meant Idaho’s campus is just 10 miles across the state line from here. Indeed, Olson and his players are staying in a motel in Moscow, Idaho – the city where the university is located.

“We should have been ahead by 10 points at halftime instead of just one,” said Vining. “I guess I got us afraid to gamble. We stopped shooting the ball like we were at first and just froze up. I never intended to slow us down that way.”

Asked if he and the other Northeast players were awed by Iowa, Wilson said, “What do you mean by awed?”

Later, Wilson said, “Iowa expected us to lie down for them, but we don’t do that for anyone. We surprised them.”

Payne misfired on all six field goal attempts he launched, but led both teams in rebounding with 14.

“We did very well with free throws, hitting on 18 of our first 20, until Payne threw up a couple of bricks at the end,” said Olson.

Payne’s rough shooting night saw him completely blow one easy layup try.

Two Carfino free throws raised Iowa’s lead to 12 points with 1:27 to play and Arnold made it a 13-point game with a pair of free shots a bit later. By that time, the Iowa band was playing “In Heaven There Is No Beer” – the signal that it was over.

About 400 Hawkeye fans were on hand on a cool, blustery night.

“We still haven’t played up to our potential in the past four or five games,” said Boyle.

The senior forward said he never felt the Hawkeyes had a monkey on their backs late in the season.

Olson said Boyle led his Total Performance Chart with 29 points, Carfino had 24 and Arnold 15.

“Iowa played a great defensive game,” said Vining, “and kept the ball away from Wilson more than we’d have liked.”

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Iowa owned a 41-38 rebounding lead. Stokes, who was in the starting lineup along with Payne, grabbed six and so did Boyle. Hansen and Arnold each grabbed four.

Even though Northeast Louisiana came out of the chute very well, Iowa moved ahead, 15-14 on Carfino’s left-handed layup with 7:19 gone. However, the Indians were in front, 27-21, late in the half before Iowa rallied.

Stokes didn’t start the last half. In the lineup were Carfino, Arnold, Hansen, Boyle and Payne. And it was some outfit in the early minutes. And, when Stokes came in, he was dynamite, too, until throwing the ball away under the Hawkeye basket.

All in all, it was the kind of half Iowa patriots have been waiting for. It was a long dry spell.

Here’s a list of “MAD” Moments that have appeared previously inside hawkeyesports.com.