Hoop Dreams In Iowa

Now that Winter is here, our thoughts turn to basketball. However, it's hard to get that tremendous Iowa football season out of our mind.

Maybe the collegiate football season is still influencing me.

You know, the season that saw Iowa win all eight of its Big Ten games and share the title with Ohio State.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I'm starting to think the Hawkeyes can win the conference title in basketball, too.

Well, why not?

They've already beaten Michigan State. And Michigan State is always well thought-of nationally, isn't it? Tom Izzo is recognized as one of the game's best coaches, isn't he?

They've already beaten Illinois. And Illinois is always well thought-of nationally, isn't it? Bill Self is another guy recognized as one of the game's best coaches, isn't he?

So what's to keep Iowa, with a 3-0 Big Ten record, from keeping the good times rolling?

Not a darn thing as far as I can tell.

Maybe this will be a breakthrough season for much-maligned Steve Alford, the Hawkeyes' coach. Maybe he'll finally quiet the critics who say he is constantly overmatched in the Big Ten's regular season. They point to his previous records of 6-10, 7-9 and 5-11.

Now he doesn't have Luke Recker and Reggie Evans doing all they can to make Iowa a two-player team.

Now he's coaching Jeff Horner, an exciting freshman from this state that Kansas' Roy Williams somehow avoided getting. Now he's coaching in a conference that, in 2002-2003, is not one of the greatest in the nation.

There's no team in the league the Hawkeyes can't beat—at home or on the road.

It could be a fun ride.

The ‘Sellout' With 1,034 Empty Seats

I was watching the Iowa State-Oklahoma game on TV over the weekend, and kept hearing the announcer, Dave Armstrong, the guy assigned by the ESPN Regional network, saying it was being played "before a sellout crowd in Hilton Coliseum."

At one point, Armstrong even said the game "has been sold out for a week."

That came as news to TV viewers like me. I'm sure it also came as news to people who sell tickets at Iowa State.

I checked the box score later, and saw that the attendance was 13,058—more than 1,000 below capacity in the 14,092-seat building.

It's strange that Armstrong couldn't have scanned the arena and noticed that there were more than 1,000 empty seats.

But, heck, what do I know about his problems? I guess we all have days like that.

Another thing I'm wondering about is this: What's it going to take to get a full house at Hilton?

The Oklahoma game drew only 13,058, the Big 12 opener against Kansas drew only 12,084. Whatever became of Hilton Magic?

Maybe Bob Knight can bring it back when he and his Texas Tech team show up Feb. 12.

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