ISU Set to Honor 1984-85 Team

<b>AMES, Iowa -</b> Iowa State University will honor the 1984-85 Cyclone basketball team at Saturday's (Feb. 12) Iowa State-Texas Tech game in Hilton Coliseum (3 p.m.). Many players from that team, including Jeff Hornacek, Jeff Grayer, Barry Stevens and Johnny Orr, will be hand for the special 20th anniversary ceremony at halftime.

Before the game there will be an autograph session with the members of the team at 2 p.m. The autograph session will take place on the east concourse outside the basketball offices.

The Iowa State basketball program has much to be proud of in its near 100-year history. Twelve NCAA Tournament appearances, eight All-Americans and 14 NBA players highlight ISU's men's hoops resume. One of ISU's proudest moments was the accomplishments and excitement the 1984-85 basketball team brought to Cyclone fans. The team came along at the right time, as the Ames community and the state of Iowa rallied around this rising program that spawned a new generation of Cyclone basketball enthusiasts.

Iowa State had suffered through mediocre seasons prior to the resurgence of the program in the middle-1980s. From 1970-84, Iowa State recorded only four winning seasons and attendance in Hilton Coliseum had reached an all-time low. In 1980, an average of just 6,470 fans clicked the turnstiles in ISU's 15 home games.

Momentum shifted dramatically when Iowa State lured Michigan head coach Johnny Orr to roam the Cyclone sidelines. Orr had led ISU to the 1976 NCAA championship game and won two Big Ten titles in his 12-year tenure in Ann Arbor, Mich. Orr was the perfect fit for Iowa State. His down-home humor, positive energy and fast-paced style on the court jumpstarted Cyclone basketball and caused fans to come out in droves to Hilton Coliseum. By his fourth year in Ames (1983-84), Orr was making major progress. He posted ISU's first winning season in six years (16-13) and Iowa State was becoming nationally competitive. Orr was successful in bringing in extremely athletic basketball players to Ames who were exciting to watch and worth the price of admission.

All of these factors added up to one of the most anticipated seasons in school history when the 1984-85 campaign was getting near. The Cyclones returned the majority of its players from the previous season, including veterans Barry Stevens and Jeff Hornacek. Stevens, a 6-5 swingman from Flint, Mich., was rewriting the Iowa State record book as he entered his senior year. The sharpshooting Stevens was a first-team all-Big Eight selection in 1984, averaging 22.2 ppg.

Hornacek was the heart and soul of the Iowa State team. The former walk-on was coming into his own as one of the best players in the Big Eight. The point guard had the entire package: scorer, defender and playmaker.

Orr added two recruits into the Cyclone mix that would figure prominently into ISU's success over the next four years. Jeff Grayer and Gary Thompkins were both blue-chip freshmen from Michigan that Orr enticed to play for Iowa State. Both would start the majority of their intercollegiate seasons and earn all-Big Eight Freshman honors.

The Cyclones jumped out of the gates with a flurry, winning their first five games. The marquee win in the non-conference season was a watermark victory over intrastate rival Iowa, 54-50 in Iowa City. It was ISU's second consecutive victory over Iowa and its first against the Hawkeyes in Iowa City since 1921.

Iowa State continued to roll throughout the non-conference season, garnering a 12-4 mark prior to Big Eight competition. Stevens had posted four 30-point games in that stretch, including a then-school record 47 points against Morgan State.

The Cyclones had the tough task of beginning the Big Eight slate by playing at Kansas and at Missouri. After a near upset of the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse (76-72), the Cyclones won at Missouri (71-64) for the first time in seven years, as Stevens poured in 28 points to spark the Cyclone victory.

A win over 10th-ranked Kansas (72-70) in Hilton Coliseum helped ISU end the conference season in a tie for third-place in the Big Eight at 7-7 and a 19-11 overall record. Skeptics were wondering if Iowa State was NCAA Tournament material with its record. ISU had been shutout of the NCAA Tournament for over 41 years and the long-awaited return to the Big Dance was in jeopardy. ISU knew they had to make a run in the Big Eight postseason tournament if they had any chance to be playing in postseason. The problem was living with ISU's history in the Big Eight postseason tournament. Since the postseason format began in 1977, ISU had lost all eight of its first-round games.

The Cyclones promptly eradicated their ghosts with a 76-52 rout of Colorado in Ames. Stevens poured in 25 points and Hornacek dished out nine assists, as the Cyclones earned their first trip to Kemper Arena. Many believed that ISU needed another victory to get into the NCAA Tournament, but it wasn't going to be easy with 10th-ranked Kansas waiting in the Jayhawks backyard. Iowa State virtually put a lock on an NCAA bid with an impressive 75-59 win over Kansas in front of a sellout crowd in Kemper (17,250). Stevens had 25 points and Hornacek chipped in with 16 points to pace the Cyclones.

The win set up a battle against Big Eight regular-season champion and No. 4-ranked Oklahoma in the Big Eight Tournament championship game. The Cyclones fought down to the wire on national television before falling to the Sooners 73-71. The game showcased to the entire nation the talents of this special team. For many people, it was the first time they got a chance to see what people in the Midwest was talking about: Iowa State basketball was on the map.

When NCAA selection Saturday came, ISU was picked as one of the 64 teams to earn a NCAA tournament bid. It was the Cyclones' first NCAA Tournament appearance in 41 years (1944). Iowa State faced Ohio State in Tulsa, Okla., in its historic return to the Big Dance, falling to the Buckeyes, 75-64. Despite the loss, ISU proved it belonged among the nation's elite.

Iowa State ended the year with a 21-13 record, breaking the school mark for wins in a season. Its 7-7 conference mark and third-place showing in the league was the program's best finish since the 1977-78 season. Stevens capped off his incredible Cyclone career by becoming ISU's all-time leading scorer (2,190) and earning his second consecutive first-team all-Big Eight selection. Hornacek was a second-team all-Big Eight pick and would end his ISU career the following season as the Cyclone's all-time assist and steal leader. He went on to have a successful career in the NBA, playing 14 seasons as one of the best shooters in the league.

Jeff Grayer was named to the Big Eight all-Defensive team and Big Eight all-Freshman squad as a rookie in 1985. When Grayer's career ended in 1988, he shattered ISU's all-time scoring mark (2,502), earned All-America honors and was selected to the 1988 United States Olympic team. Gary Thompkins was a four-year starter along with Grayer and was also a member of the Big Eight all-freshman team in 1985. Sam Hill made the Big Eight all-Surprise team and Tom Peterson won Iowa State's Outstanding Senior Award.

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