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Brown: Iowa's 30-5 hoops team to be honored

[ 3 ] May 12, 2011 |

Dr. Tom Davis

Dr. Tom Davis knows a good story when he sees one.

And his 1986-87 Iowa basketball team fits the bill.

“That was really a feel-good story,’’ Davis said Thursday, “that group of guys, the way they played together and how hard they were willing to play.’’

Davis was in his first season at Iowa in 1986-87. He coached the Hawkeyes to a record-setting 30-5 season. They finished that season one victory shy of the Final Four.

Now, the Iowa athletic department is planning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that team during the 2011-12 basketball season. Matt Weitzel of Iowa’s media relations staff said that details are still being worked out.

“I think that team exceeded my expecations, as I look back on them,’’ Davis said. “I knew we were going to be pretty good. One reason is the great depth of talent.’’

Seven members of that team – B.J. Armstrong, Kevin Gamble, Roy Marble, Ed Horton, Brad Lohaus, Bill Jones and Les Jepsen – spent time in the NBA.

“George Raveling and his staff, they really did a nice job of putting together a solid group of athletes,’’ Davis said.

Davis molded the talent he inherited into a fast-breaking, pressing dynamo. The Hawkeyes won their first 18 games and were ranked No. 1 in the nation for a week.

“They were ready and willing to play a team game,’’ Davis said. “Very coachable. We went on quite a run.’’

During that record-setting debut season, the late Al McGuire kidded Davis a time or two. McGuire, who coached Marquette to an NCAA title and became a popular TV analyst on NBC games, told Davis he was winning too much in his first season.

“He made it pretty clear I shouldn’t win that many games my first year,’’ Davis said.

Three of the players Davis inherited – Gamble, Armstrong and Lohaus – had dramatic statistical jumps under Davis. Gamble’s average increased from 2.6 to 11.9 points a game in 1986-87. Armstong improved from 3.6 to 11.3, and Lohaus from 2.9 to 12.4.

“People didn’t expect a lot out of them,’’ Davis said. “Yet there they were. Their style fit what we were trying to do, the pressure defense and the fast break.’’

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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