"JAMMIN' IN AMERICA"
(COACH: GEORGE RAVELING)
Iowans love their basketball so much that 10,000 people showed up to see a Saturday morning scrimmage shoe-horned between a torrential downpour and the Iowa-Michigan—that's No. 1 vs. No. 2—football game. The fans weren't disappointed.
The Hawkeyes' layup drill is more entertaining than most games. A couple of freshmen quickly racked up style points. Roy Marble, who is 6'6" and appears to be chiseled from 205 pounds of it, was impressive with a cupped-hand twirling reverse dunk. Ed Horton, a 6'8" racehorse, performed a power stuff. Then came junior Gerry (Sir Jamalot) Wright. Running directly at the basket, he went into a full cartwheel while still holding the ball and came straight out of that into a full tomahawk jam.
For Wright, bringing a crowd to its feet is nothing new. In fact, his nickname didn't evolve from his basketball exploits but from getting people to jam on the dance floor when he was a deejay in San Bernardino, Calif. At Iowa City he has had to make some cultural adjustments. "When I was living in California I was wild and woolly—which is the norm out there," says Sir Jamalot. "Here people are more conservative. I've had to turn down the volume a little bit, you might say."
His job for the Hawkeyes this season will be to improve his rebounding now that Greg Stokes and Michael Payne are gone. Their departure should open up opportunities for a more diversified offense. One player who must step into the breach is sophomore Al Lorenzen, known affectionately as the Vanilla Gorilla. His bumping and boxing with Arkansas's Joe Kleine in the NCAA tournament has already become part of Iowa lore. But Lorenzen isn't just a bruiser. "I can bang, but I like to think I can go out and consistently hit the 18-footer," he says. That bumping has been costly, though. Lorenzen needed elbow surgery over the summer.
Another key will be 7-foot center Brad Lohaus, who was redshirted last season. In '83-84 he was a rail-thin pivotman whose permed blond locks earned him the name Q-Tip. Well, Lohaus has had his 'do undone and has put on 30 pounds. He also has a more unfortunate moniker—Dog. That's short for Low Dog, which describes his vertical leap.
Marble and Horton, or RoMo and Easy Ed, if you will, are part of a top-flight recruiting class that will provide excellent depth. New additions to the backcourt include Kevin Gamble, a 6'7" junior-college All-America who is a deadly outside shooter, and 6'1" freshman B.J. Armstrong, primarily a play-maker. Iowa's point guard the past two seasons was converted shooting guard Andre Banks, but Armstrong will challenge him for playing time. Armstrong isn't lacking confidence. "All short guys have an invisible chip on their shoulder," says Wright. "You need a guy like that on your team."
Of course, Armstrong is young—the team calls him Baby Face—as is much of the lineup, and a lot has to be sorted out before the Hawkeyes become a force. "It's the first time I've gone into a season without a designated star," says coach George Raveling. "We don't have a starter returning who had double figures in rebounding or scoring." But Iowa does have five players who have started at one time or another. The Hawkeyes could be a team to watch at tournament time—even if it's only to see them take layups.
As this Hawk's-eye view attests, Sir Jamalot can really soar when he's carrying his payload.