Feb. 6, 2012
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was a stroll down memory lane for members of the 1986-87 University of Iowa men’s basketball team last Saturday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. From throwback jerseys, to the current Hawkeyes 77-64 victory over Penn State, it was a day that brought back a lot of great memories.
“It’s actually pretty emotional to come back and see a place that you went to work every single day, a place that you loved and a place where you were so appreciated,” said former assistant coach Bruce Pearl. “There is something said about ‘It’s great to be a Hawkeye’, it means something.”
Many involved with the 1986-87 team returned for the silver anniversary celebration.
“It is important because it was a special season in Iowa history,” said Michael Morgan. “A lot of the guys are spread out across the country, and it means something special that all of them took the time to come back to commemorate this particular time in our lives.”
Tom Davis, the all-time winningest coach at Iowa, enjoyed seeing all involved with his first Hawkeye squad.
“Not only the scholarship guys, but the walk-ons,” said Davis. “We had five or six really good walk-ons on that team. The managers, people on the outside don’t realize how important the managers are to your program. John Streif, Doc Johnson, Lloyd Bender was the photographer; people like that mean so much. Your office personnel, Shelly (Deutsch) and Pam (Culver) right now in the basketball office.
“Those people mean so much in terms of your development as a program or even having a good year. I was surrounded by talented people off the court, as well as on the court. So to see a lot of them here means a lot to me.”
“To be a part of that team, with the group of guys we had — coach Davis, coach Pearl, coach (Gary) Close, it was awesome,” said Brad Lohaus.
“It is wonderful seeing all the guys,” said Gerry Wright. “We had a good time reminiscing and catching up. We all got along so well.”
The 1986-87 team had countless moments to recall.
“We had a lot of great memories, competing in the Big Ten, putting 101 on Bob Knight in here was pretty significant. That was the first time anybody ever scored 100 points on coach Knight,” said Pearl. “That run out on the west coast and getting so close to the Final Four.”
The 2011-12 Hawkeyes made a few memories of their own Saturday afternoon, winning their second-straight conference game in style. They led the Nittany Lions by as many as 26 in the second half.
“The only thing I talked to them about was just understanding who came before you and what legacy they left,” said head coach Fran McCaffery about his team. “And the standard that we aspire to. I mean, they were ranked number one. They were a bucket away from going to the Final Four. That’s a team that legitimately could have won the national championship.
“So that’s where we want to be. And that’s the standard of what all Iowa fans expect of Iowa basketball. We have a long ways to go yet, but we’re making progress. I felt they responded to that challenge and wanted to perform with these guys here.”
A number of the former Hawkeyes like the directions where Iowa basketball is headed.
“They are on the right track,” said Davis. “Coach McCaffery is well prepared to do this job. I like what he says and what he does and the way they’re playing.”
“They are going in a good direction,” said Morgan. “Coach McCaffery is pushing all the right buttons. I think he is doing a great job, and am looking forward to watching these guys grow. Over time you will see the resurgence of Iowa basketball.”