In all of Iowa
there is not a pigpen or a corncrib that is out of earshot of University of
Iowa basketball broadcasts. Instead of a single "Voice of the
Hawkeyes," there is a whole chorus of voices emanating from Iowa City,
Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines, all with announcers and sponsors of
their own. One clear-channel station is so powerful that a transplanted Iowan,
over the Rockies in California, has been driving to a spot near his home to
The listening has
been pleasant. Going into last Saturday's game at Purdue, Iowa was leading the
Big Ten with an 11-0 record. It had won 13 games in a row and had beaten
Illinois on the road for the first time in eight years. The team was being led
by a relatively unknown 6'7" senior from Milwaukee, John Johnson, who can
dribble behind his back and between his legs, score almost 28 points a game and
can also pass quite nicely. In fact, most of the Hawkeyes are good passers, so
they have given themselves the acid rock-group nickname of J.J. and the
in Purdue's $6 million arena they dealt the ball around deftly in one of the
fastest-moving games of the year and almost give their announcers collective
laryngitis in the process. Iowa won 108-107 to take the Big Ten championship.
It was Purdue's first defeat at home in 31 games and it came despite Rick
Mount's 61 points.
interest in Iowa basketball is frantic, even though there happens to be only
one Iowan in the starting lineup. He is Dick Jensen, and the threat of his
taking a shot remains just that—a threat. He doesn't. At center, he does more
than his share on defense, but the sparkle comes from the other four,
especially Johnson, who Coach Ralph Miller compares to a previous All-America
of his at Wichita State, Dave Stallworth.
recruited out of a junior college in Powell, Wyo., and was only Miller's third
JC transfer in six years. The fourth and last transfer, Fred Brown, also came
from Milwaukee. A good ball handling guard, he was the lone added ingredient to
this year's regulars. According to Miller, Brown made the adjustment to
major-college basketball faster than any of the other JC transfers who have
played for him.
allowed 6'1" Chad Calabria to move up and play as a kind of third forward,
using his western Pennsylvania alley-basketball background to good advantage
inside. The fifth starter, Glenn (the Stick) Vidnovic, who grew up near
Calabria, looks like an Iowa farmer's scarecrow who has just shaken the hay out
of his sleeves. He is listed as 6'5" and 190, but the student manager must
have been standing on the scales with him.
team, 12-12 last season without Brown, woke up with a start after losing four
of its first six games. Before Saturday, it was two up on Purdue, the closest
Big Ten team, but if the Hawkeyes lost, they would have to win their last two
games to avoid the possibility of a tie. This brought back memories of 1968.
Iowa had only to beat Michigan at home to clinch the title. It lost, the Big
Ten race ended in a tie and Ohio State won the playoff.
that in this game he would continue his policy of using no gimmick defense on
Mount—no parallelogram-and-one, no hexes, no triple-teaming. The Hawkeyes
played Mount conventionally in Iowa City earlier in the season and, while he
scored 53 points (Iowa Fieldhouse record), Iowa won the game. Miller felt it
could again. Central to his thinking was the belief, shared with other league
coaches, that Mount is protected like a little brother by the referees and gets
six to 10 free throws a game he does not deserve. But Mount gets a lot of
have a boy who gets as much publicity as Rick you're going to have this
problem," said Purdue Coach George King. "It's an envy factor. Many
times it's done with the idea of intimidating a fellow, but Rick does a great
job of handling himself."
Even with Mount on
his side, King still had his worries. His team had won seven straight with a
run-run offense and a man-to-man defense, yet the word on Iowa was that a zone
defense was much more effective against the quick, slick-passing Hawkeyes.