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For those of you who were unable to make it to Saturday's game, it was a pretty special day. Some of you had said things about the commemorative program being sold out, so I scanned the cover. If you haven't read the articles on the history of the players from the 86-87 team, head on over to Hawkcentral http://hawkcentral.com/2012/01/28/iowas-run-to-no-1-where-are-players-on-the-1986-87-team-now/ and Dochterman's page http://thegazette.com/category/blogs/docs-office/ and check them out. It's really great stuff, and some of the Hawkcentral stuff was included in the program.
One of my earliest (and fondest) childhood memories was of a family vacation when I was about 5 years old. My parents, brother, and I went to Iowa City. Dad wanted to take us to Carver, but, being it was the summer, it was locked. A custodian let us in and allowed us to go all the way down onto the floor. Even at that age, I knew it was someplace special. ( I'm sure my brother's enthusiasm might have had something to do with it too). Similarly to what ICHawk had to say in his Fanpost, Iowa Basketball needs to be there for the 5-year old boys (and girls) out there too.
The 86-87 team was the first team I remember watching on TV with my Dad. I was five when they played. My Dad had never been to a game at Carver. It was a spur of the moment trip (we bought tickets on Stubhub on Friday morning), and we decided to make the six hour drive to Iowa City. Seeing my childhood heroes was going to be totally worth it.
We got to the game about an hour early, so we waited in the North concourse to get out of the snow. We weren't the only ones with this idea; Adam Woodbury was waiting out there too. The former players and Dr. Tom were all in the newly renovated banquet area, so we got the pleasure of seeing them talking with the media before they walked into Carver.
At 12:30, the doors opened, and we immediately got in Tom Davis's line. They were giving away reprints of the KRNA "GQ" poster to get signed. Davis signed my poster, and I asked him why he didn't sign it "Dr. Tom"--he said that he's never signed anything "Dr." because people would probably ask him for a prescription! He and Les Jepsen laughed pretty hard about his joke.
Everybody was surprised to see the next man in line... Bruce Pearl! I asked if we would see him in the student section. He answered with, "You might.... but I'm leaving my shirt on." Regardless of what people think of him after the Tennessee ordeal (and the Deon Thomas thing), it was obvious why he's a good recruiter. He makes an instant connection and is very personable. Also of note, he signed the poster with "Go Hawks!" below his name-- being the only one that wrote anything other than his name and number. Also seated at the table was grey-teamer, Sam Schweiger. (Sadly, we missed BJ. After seeing photos online, it looks like he set up shop at Dr. Tom's table after we passed through).
We then moved into the next autograph line. Seated there were Michael Morgan, grey-teamer Pat Roach, Al Lorenzen (the "Vanilla Gorilla"), and "Sir Jamalot" Gerry Wright. Sir Jamalot looks fit, and I believe his claim that he can still windmill dunk. Roy Marble rounded out the table. He didn't seem real thrilled about all the attention, but still smiled as he signed. From accounts from other fans, it sounded like he was reluctant to write the book too (maybe because he wants the attention to be on Roy Devin?). I told him that he was great in "The Journey." He replied with, "It was real. It was all real." We ran out of time before we could get into any other lines.
I thought it was a classy move by Fran and the current Hawkeyes to come out take in the introductions of the 86-87 team. Hopefully, they got a feeling for what Hawkeye Basketball can become again.
As has been mentioned in previous posts, Dr. Tom's ovation was tremendous. It built through his whole introduction and nearly drowned out the PA announcer. Like others have said, it seemed the crowd is (rightfully) trying to make up for the way he was forced out.
Shortly after halftime, I decided to pick up Roy Marble's book, and stopped by the Hawk Shop. Al Lorenzen was up there asking for smaller size Gatens jerseys for his kids. After reading Dochterman's article on the team, it turns out his wife had their second child on Friday, so he's starting them really young! I thought about that... how cool would it be to be Gatens, a life-long Hawk fan, having a Hawkeye great buying your jersey?
The game, while a great result, really was secondary. The current Hawks fed off the atmosphere, got out to a hot start, and coasted through the second half.
We got home about 11:00 and were pretty exhausted. It was a special day for that team, and a special day for my Dad and I. Saturday, Carver-Hawkeye Arena was my Graceland.