IF WE COULD SEE OURSELVES AS OTHERS SEE US, WE'D PROBABLY THINK THEY HAD US CONFUSED WITH SOMEBODY ELSE. Iowa Coach George Raveling recently scribbled those words on the message board outside his office for the benefit of his players, but it seemed more appropriate for him. Raveling was hired to be a basketball coach. Hawkeye fans expect him to be a savior.
Raveling came to Iowa City last spring after 11 years at Washington State of the Pac-10, hardly a hoops wasteland. Yet even he was taken aback by the attention Iowans focus on the Hawkeyes. "I didn't envision how enthusiastic the fans were," Raveling says. "With that enthusiasm comes an overzealousness. They have an unrealistic concept of what we'll do."
Raveling's predecessor, Lute Olson, put up with that pressure for nine seasons before going to Arizona. Lucky for Raveling, Olson couldn't take his players with him. Returning from the 21-10 team of 1982-83 that reached the NCAA round of 16 are three starters, including the junior twin towers, 6'10" Center Greg Stokes and 6'11" Forward Michael Payne. Stokes shocked the basketball cognoscenti last summer by beating out Memphis State's Keith Lee for a spot on the Pan American Games squad. He left Caracas with a 7.0 scoring average and renewed self-confidence.
Raveling, long known as a big man's coach—he's 6'5" himself—will tip the balanced offense favored by Olson in the twin towers' favor. "We'll run some double posts and be inside-oriented," Raveling says. "My big guys have mobility. We're going to have to be more of a finesse rebounding team. We can't be physical inside." Indeed, last season Stokes and Payne combined for an average of only 14.7 rebounds per game.
Senior Guard Steve Carfino, a 50.1% career shooter, will move from the point to shooting guard, and sophomore Andre Banks will direct the attack. "Andre has caught on to the new offense faster than anybody," Raveling says.
Iowa's catching on was aided during the preseason by 7 a.m. skull sessions and shoot-arounds twice a week, in addition to the daily afternoon workouts. There isn't a lot of time in which to learn. Barring tournament upsets, the Hawkeyes will play Oregon State twice, Louisville and Memphis State during December, and then visit Michigan State and Michigan to open the Big Ten schedule. By then, Hawkeye fans will have a pretty good idea of the kind of savior Raveling is going to be.