Victorious Valentine's Day
There are a few things that have become commonplace in Iowa during the month of February. Notable Iowa men’s basketball teams usually enter into the month riding the momentum of a successful January. Iowans pack into middle school gyms and cafeterias to participate in excessively-hyped caucuses every 4 years. Kirk Ferentz deflects pointed questions from reporters on National Signing Day with anecdotes about recruiting back in 1981. Sadly, this month has also featured a lot of hardship for the men’s basketball team, where aspirations for a top-5 seed in the tourney are erased by debilitating losses to ranked and unranked Big Ten foes.
Due to the team’s most recent losing streak at the end of January, things looked especially eerie going the first game of February against the No. 5 Wolverines. As a result, Iowa fans might have asked themselves the following question; can Iowa beat a ranked team AND have it occur in the ominous month of February?
Iowa’s uncharacteristic 74-59 win over Michigan sparked some hope into us weary fans, but surely the Hawks couldn't win in a hostile road environment in February.
.@JordanBo_3 called blouses back-to-back!
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 8, 2019
Well, beating Indiana in Bloomington is nothing to shake a stick at, but surely Iowa will put up a milquetoast performance against an inferior opponent, setting off the typical February malaise.
Jordan Bohannon, redux:
This video of how the #Hawkeyes came from 15 down with 4:13 to go is fantastic.
— Keith Murphy (@MurphyKeith) February 11, 2019
These three wins called to mind a time where the program’s cup runneth’d over with February wins against ranked opponents. Yes, a time where the likes of Greg Brunner, Jeff Horner, and Adam Haluska hustled up and down a slightly different looking court with fully exposed calves and baggy uniforms. Alas, it’s time to look back on a gem from Iowa basketball’s not-too-distant past.
- Date: Valentine’s Day, 2006
- Matchup: #16 Michigan State Spartans vs. #18 Iowa Hawkeyes
- Venue: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
- Attendance: 15,500
- #1 song of the Week: “Check On It” by Beyoncé feat. Bun B, Slim Thug
- Top of the Box Office: Final Destination 3
- Also Airing Tonight: American Idol, season 5 (26.9 million viewers)
Iowa entered this game #18 in the AP poll, coming off an impressive road win against Mike Davis’ Hoosiers squad. With a win against the Spartans, the Hawks would secure their 20th win of the season, and stood atop the Big Ten with a 9-3 conference record entering the final four games of the regular season. With [NAME REDACTED] in his 7th season as head coach Iowa managed to stay ranked in all but six games in the regular season, and were poised to receive their 3rd NCAA Tournament berth under his tenure. Sparty touted a #16 ranking and an 18-6 overall record going into this game, coming off an embarrassing 14-point loss to unranked Minnesota three days prior. However, the Spartans depantsed the Hawkeyes less than a month prior to this game, winning 85-55 at the Breslin Center.
Greg Brunner had himself a night, leading the team in scoring with 15 points, and 10 rebounds, including a #
BALDBIGMANTHREE in the last 3 minutes of the game. What is more, he did so while unapologetically sporting his male-pattern baldness, and flaunting what I now recognize as a mild resemblance with Paul Scheer. Jeff Horner hit the remaining four of the team’s five three pointers (4-6 altogether), and tied Brunner with 15 points, including six assists and three steals. These two played a key role in the second half, which featured a 14-3 run by Iowa when faced with a 2-point deficit. Erek Hansen ended the night with 13 points, including a couple of demoralizing putback baskets against MSU’s post men.
Not to be outdone, Doug Thomas had two of the most electrifying plays of the game. The first included alley-oop dunk eight minutes into the contest, which required an impressive 25-foot pass from oop-expert, Jeff Horner. The other occurred with four minutes left in the game, when Thomas picked off a perimeter pass from MSU, and nearly dismantled the rim, effectively clinching the game for the Hawks in the process. Iowa would prevail by a score of 66-54, and would finish the regular season with a 22-8 record. For a delightfully cheesy/pixelated review of the game, look no further than DITV.
For a more detailed recap of the game, check out the Daily Iowan’s full story on the game (pages 9&11).
Carver has received a bit of a bad rep when it comes to gameday environments, which is exacerbated by the unyielding praise of Hilton Coliseum, the Kohl Center, and even Nebby’s Pinnacle Bank Arena. But hot damn, does the arena get loud when the team plays lights out, and this game was no exception. Sights and sounds from this game have ingrained themselves into the memories of my generation of Iowa fandom, and they immediately came to mind during Fran’s early success at Iowa.
I’m a sucker for the gold uniforms. Sure, they’re eternally tied to Iowa’s last loss of the ‘06 season to [TEAM NAME REDACTED], and Iowa seems to always falter whilst wearing them in big games. Still, when the boys back home break these out, my eye is undimmed, and my vigor unabated.
- This is one of my favorite Iowa basketball teams, and it sucks that we will never not think about having [NAME REDACTED] as our coach, and ending the season in the most gut wrenching fashion to [TEAM NAME REDACTED]. They managed to beat 9 ranked teams over the course of the season, including the likes of Kentucky, a still-relevant Illinois, Ohio State, and a sweep of Indiana. Throw in an undefeated record at home, a slew of sellout crowds, and a Big Ten Tournament Title, and you have yourself a an illustrious “what-if” season.
Do you have any memories from this game? Are there any games you’d like us to give a throwback? Does reflecting on our program’s past success remind you too much of our hopelessly nostalgic neighbors to the west? Let us know in the comments below.