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Hawkeyes struggles painful for Tom Davis

[ 3 ] January 30, 2012 |

Tom Davis called Carver-Hawkeye Arena home for 13 seasons as Iowa’s head coach.

Twenty-win seasons and NCAA bids were commonplace during his reign. It all changed before the 1998-99 season, when athletic director Bob Bowlsby decided not to renew Dr. Tom’s contract. After a lame-duck season — and trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 — Davis was gone.

The hard feelings have lingered. Davis has been in the building for just two games since his coaching days at Iowa ended. He brought Drake teams into the arena in 2003 and 2005.

But Davis will be back on Saturday, when his 1986-87 team celebrates its 25th anniversary. The team will be honored in a ceremony before a 2 p.m. game with Penn State. Every player except Kent Hill and Michael Reaves is expected to be in attendance.

“Les Jepsen said the players wanted me to be there,” Davis said. “I said, ‘If it’s important to them, I’d be glad to do it.’ Of course, he knew I would love to be there with them.”

That 1986-87 team won its first 18 games of the season, reached No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time in school history and won a record 30 games.

Davis coached Iowa to 10 20-win seasons and nine NCAA berths during his time there. Recent history hasn’t been as kind. Iowa has had a losing record the past four seasons.

“I’m happy to do this, because I appreciate what Iowa is doing,” Davis said. “I appreciate what (athletic director) Gary Barta has been doing with the program. I’m sorry about the problems that they’ve had. Steve Alford is a good coach. And Todd Lickliter can coach. He’s excellent. And now Coach (Fran) McCaffery, he’s very good. I’d like to see them do well. It kind of hurts.”

Davis hopes people remember him for what he accomplished, but you’ll never hear him boasting of his place in Hawkeye history.

“With time, they appreciate more how difficult things are to achieve and develop, and the patience you have to have,” Davis said.

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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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