The Big Ten Network did Iowa Hawkeyes fans a favor Tuesday night.
The BTN aired a replay of the 1987 NCAA Tournament West Regional semifinal between Iowa and Oklahoma from the Kingdome in Seattle.
The Hawkeyes won the game in overtime, 93-91. It was magnificent basketball played by two teams full of magnificent players. It was decided on Kevin Gamble’s 3-point swish for Iowa with one second left in overtime.
That was Iowa’s 30th and last win of the 1986-87 season. Their fifth and final loss came two days later to UNLV in the West final, a game that is still nothing but scar tissue to Hawkeye fans with long memories.
But let me repeat: That was fantastic ball, relentlessly attacking ball by two teams with future NBA players. Iowa had B.J. Armstrong, Brad Lohaus, Roy Marble, Ed Horton, Gamble.
Al Lorenzen of Cedar Rapids, the ninth man on that Iowa team, gave the Hawkeyes some major production.
Oklahoma had Stacey King and Harvey Grant, two front-line players who went on to prosper in the NBA themselves.
This was how good college basketball could be. I covered that game way back when, and it was truly a shame someone had to lose.
(By the way, I saw myself at courtside on the BTN replay Tuesday, and it appears my white hair isn’t a recent phenomenon.)
This isn’t just a trip down Memory Lane, however. Tuesday night in real time, Providence upset top-ranked Pittsburgh, 81-73.
Providence is coached by Keno Davis, who led Drake to its terrific 28-5 season a year ago.
The Friars are 17-11 overall, 9-7 in the rugged Big East. They are on that proverbial NCAA tourney bubble, though they certainly bounced upward with the win over Pitt.
I love this paragraph from Associated Press’ story on the game, played at Providence:
The fans in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center crowded around the courtside press tables for the final minutes. Twice, the public address announcer begged the fans to stay off the court following the game; twice the crowd responded by laughing.
Keno was an adolescent that Friday night in Seattle when his dad’s team found a way to beat that fabulous Oklahoma squad of Billy Tubbs. Twenty-two years later, he made his biggest mark to date in the Big East.
I’m not the only to say this, but I’ll say it again: The more time passes, the more you realize what Iowa had in Tom Davis. His only child can coach a little bit, too.