HTO.com Beat: A Year to Remember

2002 could be considered a twisted year among many Hawkeye fans. A year of a great rise by the football team to a great demise of the men's basketball team due to off the field occurrences. In the final 2002 HTO.com Beat, I recap my top ten Hawkeye events of the past year.

Here are my top ten events of the 2002 Hawkeye year:

10. Iowa Upsets Top-Ranked Minnesota - A weekend that has to go down as one of the most memorable in Hawkeye history, the Hawkeye grapplers helped start it off. Coach Zalesky's troops entered Minneapolis heavy underdogs. However, the Hawks enjoyed a 24-11 victory that put National Championship visions right back into the mind of Hawk fans.

9. Iowa Gains Commitment of JUCO F Nick DeWitz - After many problems had plagued Coach Alford and staff during the spring and summer months, most was quickly vanished with the commitment of Nick DeWitz. Rated as the #1 JUCO forward in the country by many publications, Nick looked past the recent troubles in Iowa City to join some of the other top talent coming to the program.

8. Hawkeye Women Face #1 UConn - The Lady Hawkeyes reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time under Head Coach Lisa Bluder. After defeating Virginia in the first round, next up was perhaps the best team in the history of NCAA women's basketball. The Hawks played hard, but did not come anywhere close to presenting a real threat in being defeated 86-48. However, the game helped show the steps that Coach Bluder and staff hope to make this season and next.

7. Hawks Hand Worst Home Loss to Michigan in 35 years!  - In a game that was supposed to mark whether the Hawks deserved to be placed on the national map, they more than stepped up to the plate. With a strong second half performance from Jermelle Lewis, the Hawks cruised to a 34-9 victory, which also put them in the top ten for the first time since 1997. This game also helped start the campaign of Brad Banks for Heisman.

6. Nation's #1 QB Chris Leak Sets Visit to Iowa - The momentum of Brad Banks and the Hawkeyes helped carry onto the recruiting scene. Shortly after their defeat of Michigan,Coach Ferentz received a call from the Leak family requesting a visit. After numerous conflicts, Coach Ferentz finally hosted Leak on the 21st of December as the Hawks prepared for the Orange Bowl.

5. Coach Alford and Coach Knight Re-Unite -The once heated rivalry between Coach Knight, while at Indiana, and Coach Alford went in a different path this past summer when the two held a meeting. Coach Alford, struggling currently as the Hawkeye head coach, went to his old mentor for advice. Also coming out of the deal was an agreement for a two year series of games!

4. Ferentz Family Gives $100,000 Gift - Showing remarkable character and class, Coach Ferentz and his wife Mary extended a $100,000 gift to the UI College Liberal Arts and Sciences. In a year when many may have linked his name to NFL head coach openings, Coach Ferentz gave back to the community he now calls home. He expressed the values that are continually shown among the people at the University of Iowa.

3. Recker Gains Revenge on Former Team - Luke Recker ended his much traveled career with one shot he will always remember. Facing his former team, the Indiana Hoosiers, in the semi-finals of the 2002 Big Ten Tournament, Recker faced a situation of delivering a potential game winning shot. A baseline dribble past Jared Jeffries helped put him in position for what was his second straight game winning shot. After the lofty expectations were not realized during conference play, Recker's efforts helped put a smile across the face of many Hawk fans. 

2. Iowa Captures Share of Big Ten Championship - After a remarkable 45-21 victory over the Gophers, many Hawk and fans began to celebrate their earning of a co-championship with Ohio State. The celebration even resulted in Hawk fans storming the goal post and carrying it around the dome, which was shown many times on ESPN. However, a bit of false advertising was shown with roses in the mouths of many Hawks. Since their reward was to be the Fed Ex Orange Bowl, it's just as well that they didn't know then. Walking around with an orange in the mouth probably wouldn't look as appealing.

1. Banks Finishes Runner-Up for 2002 Heisman - Brad Banks was virtually an unknown entering the 2002 season. A first-time starter; Banks quickly emerged as one of the best, not only in the Big Ten, but in the entire nation. After receiving an invitation to the 2002 Heisman presentation, due to the nation's best efficency with 25 touchdowns and only four interceptions, Banks finished second in voting behind USC QB Carson Palmer. Banks will have his opporunity for revenge in the January 2nd match-up between the Hawks and Trojans in the Fed Ex Orange Bowl.

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