Take a quick trip around Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena and you'll
see the symbols of success everywhere. On the concourse level
the exploits of the Iowa wrestling team--22 straight Big Ten
titles, 14 NCAA championships--spill over into three showcases.
Just a short walk from the court, the black awning over the
locker room door of the women's basketball team is covered with
the gold numbers that signify championship years: a 1993 Final
Four appearance and six Big Ten titles in the last eight years.
Across the hall, the awning over the men's locker room is blank.
That says it all about the status of Hawkeye hoops: The men's
team is No. 3 in its home arena.
"I guess that makes us the most humble team in the country,"
says junior forward Jess Settles. "We don't have all those
championship banners hanging all over the place, and that's
fine, because right now we're not into telling everybody how
great we are. We'd rather show you."
During the second half of last season the Hawkeyes did exactly
that. Iowa, which finished tied for seventh in the Big Ten
(9-9) despite leading the conference in scoring, with 81.3
points per league game (a figure that rose to 83.6 in all
games), ended the season 21-12, reaching the quarterfinals of
the NIT. The Hawkeyes--whose last Big Ten championship team photo
is a black-and-white shot from 1979--hope to make their mark this
season with four returning starters and 80% of their scoring
power from last winter intact. Settles (15.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg), the
1993 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, returns after struggling with
a bad back for most of the 1994 season. He's joined by the
team's top defender, senior forward Kenyon Murray. Junior point
guard Andre Woolridge (14 ppg, 5.8 apg), who was one assist shy
of breaking the Iowa season record of 191 last year, will also
be back, along with junior guard Chris Kingsbury (following
page), a renowned three-point shooter and the team's leading
scorer, with 16.8 points per game.
Certainly the Hawkeyes have the firepower to score 90 points a
game. But defense is what wins games in the Big Ten, and the
Hawks have a gaping hole under the basket. Russ Millard, the
6'8", 240-pound senior forward-center, would appear to be the
man to fill it, but he still makes freshman mistakes--which in
fact is not surprising, considering that eligibility and health
problems have limited him to playing only one full season
('93-94). When Millard struggles, coach Tom Davis will have to
plug a real freshman into his complicated, full-court system:
either 6'10" J.R. Koch or 6'11" Guy Rucker. And with an
18-year-old at center, the Hawkeyes are probably still a year
away from hauling in any Big Ten hardware.
That's the reality, but it hasn't prevented some lofty
expectations for the Hawkeyes this winter. "People have us
penciled in atop the Big Ten already," says Davis. "I'm
flattered. Unfortunately, you don't win trophies and fill
showcases with preseason predictions."
COLOR PHOTO: VINCENT MUZIK A healthy Settles will give Iowa a lift. [Jess Settles]
THE DATA BOX
Coach: Tom Davis
Career record: 458-250 (24 seasons)
Record at Iowa: 184-100 (9 seasons)
1994-95 record: 21-12 (final ranking: none)
Big Ten record: 9-9 (tied for seventh)
SF *Kenyon Murray, 6'5", Sr.
2.2 steals per Big Ten game led league
PF *Jess Settles, 6'7", Jr.
Team's No. 2 scorer, No. 1 rebounder
C Russ Millard, 6'8", Sr.
Academics, injuries limited him to 12 games
SG *Chris Kingsbury, 6'5", Jr.
553 points most ever by a Hawkeye soph
PG *Andre Woolridge, 6'1", Jr.
One assist shy of Iowa single-season record
Nov. 22 vs. Ohio
Rematch of 66-62 Iowa win in NIT second round
Dec. 9 at Iowa State
Cyclones won by 13 last year in Iowa City
Jan. 13 at Wisconsin
Kingsbury burned Badgers with six treys last February
Jan. 30 at Indiana
Hoosiers won 110-79, dashing Hawks' NCAA hopes
Feb. 3 vs. Penn State
Rematch of season-ending NIT loss to Lions