NCAAB Team Profiles: Iowa Hawkeyes
Representing the University of Iowa, the Iowa Hawkeyes are the state’s biggest presence in the collegiate basketball scene. Through the Hawkeyes athletics program, the best young athletes are sourced for NCAA (and later NBA) greatness.
Today we’re going over the full story of the Iowa Hawkeyes, from their founding at the university to their performance in the NCAA so far. If you’re interested, you should check out their March Madness odds if you’re the betting type!
NCAAB Team Profiles: Iowa Hawkeyes
To find the start of the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball program, we need to go back to 1901. This was their first-ever season, where coach Ed Rule led them to a 10-2 record in varsity basketball. Under Rule’s guidance, the Hawkeyes made a 37-15 record, and Rule’s win percentage stands as the best in University of Iowa history.
Then, in the 1920s, they benefited from the coaching of Sam Barry. Barry led the Hawkeyes to a 13-2 season record, and then they went on to win the Big Ten championship for the first time.
After Rule and Barry, coach Rollie Williams oversaw the Hawkeyes from 1929 to 1942. Despite a slush fund controversy early in his tenure, Williams later found success thanks to Nile Kinnick. Kinnick was the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner but also lent his skill to the Hawkeyes basketball team, too, averaging 6.3 points per game for a total of 75 in his debut season (1937-38).
After a disastrous 7-10 season in 1943, new coach Pops Harrison took the Hawkeyes to their third Big Ten title for the 1945 season.
While Williams’ team was headed by Nile Kinnick, Harrison’s squad was led by prolific scorer Murray Weir. In the 1947-48 season, he averaged 21 points per game. Naturally, he made All-Big Ten and Big Ten MVP selections, along with 1948 consensus All-American.
The second coach largely responsible for their post-war success was Bucky O’Connor. Working under Harrison, O’Connor took over for the 1951-52 season. After Weir moved along, consensus All-American Chuck Darling became the Hawkeyes’ latest star. He was a first-round pick in the 1952 draft for the NBA.
The Fabulous Five
After Darling left, the Hawkeyes received new talent with the Fabulous Five. Five sophomores took the Hawkeyes to fame – Carl Cain, Bill Logan, Sharm Scheuerman, Bill Seaberg, and Bill Schoof. Carl, Sharm, and the three Bills stormed the Big Ten and finished at #4 in the entire country. They then made the Final Four at the 1955 NCAA Tournament.
By the 1955-56 season, the five had become seniors. After having been stopped at the Final Four last year, they recreated their run by beating the Big Ten, making the Final Four at the 1956 NCAA Tournament, and then the championship game. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes lost to the San Francisco Dons, with good reason – a young Bill Russell was against them!
Carl Cain, along with former Hawkeye Chuck Darling, would go on to play with Bill Russell at the 1956 Olympics. After coach O’Connor was tragically killed in a car accident, Sharm Scheuerman stepped up to coach the Hawkeyes, assisted by star player Connie Hawkins.
1980 Final Four Bid
The Hawkeyes’ success continued for the next two decades under Ralph Miller and Dick Schultz, where the program sourced talent that made its way to the Chicago Bulls.
Their next big success came under Lute Olson, who led the team to the Final Four in 1980. Olson’s star player was Ronnie Lester. After making it to the NCAA Tournament, they handily made it to the Final Four, facing the Louisville Cardinals. An injury to Lester ended their hopes, the Cardinals winning the whole tournament.
After it was all over, one of Lester’s opponents – Magic Johnson (who played for Michigan State Spartans) – remarked that Lester was the toughest college opponent he faced.
With the ‘80s over, new coaches George Raveling and then Tom Davis rounded out the century. Davis led the Hawkeyes to nine NCAA Tournaments before bowing out in 1999.
The Modern Iowa Hawkeyes
Three coaches define the modern Iowa Hawkeyes – Steve Alford, Todd Lickliter, and Fran McCaffery. Alford’s coaching tenure was plagued by play inconsistencies, Lickliter only coached for three years – 2007-2010 – and they were three of the worst years the Hawkeyes have ever recorded.
The last coach is their current – Fran McCaffery. Starting in 2010, McCaffery still helms the Hawkeyes and has increased attendance of the program by 20%. In 2014, they made it to their first NCAA Tournament since 2006.
Overall, the Hawkeyes made it to 27 NCAA Tournaments, 8 NIT Tournaments, and they won 8 Big Ten conference championships. They also won the Big Ten tournament twice and made it to the Final Four thrice. They hit the semifinals in 1955 and 1980 but only hit the championships once in 1956, where Bill Russell put an end to their run.
Those are the main points you need to know about the Iowa Hawkeyes and their journey to where they are today. Now that they have one of the most dedicated coaches since their inception, maybe they will make it to another championship game in the 2020s.
Main Image Credit Embed from Getty Images