Commentary: Iowa’s win over Purdue is a sign of the future

BY SETH ROBERTS | MARCH 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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Wow. Just wow.

What else can be said about Iowa’s 67-65 win over No. 6 Purdue on March 5?

All the problems the Hawkeyes had during the season were fixed. Inconsistency? The team put together a full 40 minutes of solid basketball. Scoring droughts? Didn’t happen. Missed free throws?

They rattled home when they counted most.

The result was the Hawkeyes’ most monumental result since they beat No. 7 Ohio State to win the 2006 Big Ten Tournament.

That 67-60 win was the beginning of the end for the Black and Gold, whose record against ranked opponents since then has been awful. Iowa’s last home victory over a Top-25 team came against No. 6 Michigan State in 2008, and that was hardly a game worth remembering for anything besides its bizarre 43-36 final score.

This win against Purdue was different — some day, people will tell their grandkids about how they rushed the court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena after the Hawkeyes spoiled the Boilermakers’ shot at the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

More importantly, they’ll tell future generations about how they were firsthand witnesses of the Iowa basketball program’s dramatic rebirth. Last weekend was bigger than just a Saturday afternoon game on ESPN: Iowa proved it has what it takes to play with the big boys on a national stage.

The 2008 Michigan State game wasn’t a case of the Hawkeyes playing well, it was a case of the Spartans being absolutely terrible. Purdue, on the other hand, played well on March 5. Iowa just played better: Four Hawkeyes finished with double-digit points, five dished out at least one assist, and six pulled down at least five rebounds.

In other words, the win was a collective effort — and you can expect more of the same in the future.
Iowa’s 11-19 record is deceiving. Yeah, the team has played badly on several occasions (see: losses to Purdue, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Michigan State by around 20 points), but the Hawkeyes have also put together some stretches of very good basketball. The team pushed Wisconsin and Michigan to overtime, beat the Spartans by 20 in Iowa City, and lost to Northwestern by only 3 points in Evanston.

Now, Iowa has a huge win over one of the best teams in the country to hang its hat on. The team took all the flashes of brilliance from the season and packed them into a 40-minute stretch anyone would be proud of.

And the best part of the whole thing? With all due respect to the current roster, Iowa looked excellent even without players ideal for Fran McCaffery’s system. A good number of the Hawkeyes were recruited by Todd Lickliter to play a brand of basketball completely opposite from McCaffery’s preferred style, but “Fran the Man” was able to squeeze out a stunning victory nonetheless.

Once more of McCaffery’s recruits arrive in Iowa City, it’s safe to assume wins like these will become more of a regular occurrence. Heck, maybe the Hawkeyes will even be ranked themselves sometime soon.

We’ve seen the future.

Don’t forget to tell your grandkids.

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