Meet the Mayor
Iowa state never really had a ball boy until the job was created in 1985 for a local tyke named Fred Hoiberg who was always hanging around the Cyclones' gym. The kid didn't get much notice until the day in 1986 when Iowa State guard Jeff Hornacek came streaking downcourt during an exhibition game and stepped on Hoiberg's foot after making a layup. Hornacek sprained his ankle and missed the rest of the game. Says Hoiberg, "Injuring the best player in school history isn't exactly how I want to be remembered."
Not to worry. A decade later Hoiberg, Iowa State's 6' 4" senior forward, is so popular in his hometown of Ames that teammates call him the Mayor; indeed, he received several write-in votes in the city's '93 mayoral election. Hoiberg and fellow seniors Julius Michalik and Loren Meyer have led the Cyclones to a 15-2 record and the No. 11 spot in this week's AP poll, the team's highest ranking in seven seasons. "Fred's more popular than anybody on campus, and probably anybody in central Iowa," says Cyclone coach Tim Floyd, who replaced Johnny Orr this season. "Let's just say, when you're a new coach and one of your players is called the Mayor, you make sure that guy plays a lot."
Hizzoner's approval rating soared even higher when he scored 32 points as Iowa State upset then No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 14. In that victory Hoiberg scored 17 straight Cyclone points down the stretch. "He's one of the best players I have ever coached against," said Kansas coach Roy Williams afterward. "That says it all."
Hoiberg, who is averaging 19.5 points a game, is a superstitious fellow who wore the same shirt before every game while leading his Ames High team to a state title as a senior. At Iowa State he continued to wear the shirt until his sophomore year when his dog, Bailey, tore it to shreds. In lieu of that talisman, Hoiberg now ritualistically completes the trivia quiz in the program before each home game.
Hoiberg admits that coming out of high school he was briefly tempted to attend either Stanford or Arizona. Instead, he decided to stay in Ames, where his father, Eric, a sociology professor at Iowa State, and his mother, Karen, a school teacher, could attend his games. "People here have always been so good to me, I knew they'd give me support, not pressure," says Hoiberg. "When I was being recruited, they sent me petitions signed by thousands, all asking me to stay."
Could a similar petition drive one day help the Mayor become the mayor? "With his stature," says Floyd, "I'm sure that someday he could actually be the mayor of Ames." The current mayor, Larry Curtis, doesn't find the prospect too threatening. Curtis, who is also an adjunct assistant professor at Iowa State, once taught Hoiberg in a business-law class and has faced him a few times on the golf course. "I've told him that I'd be happy to share the title with him," Curtis says, "but I think he has a future in basketball."
When Tim Grgurich was a UNLV assistant under Jerry Tarkanian in 1986, the Rebels took a summer trip to Tahiti. "Our guys were all there running around in bathing suits and having fun," Tarkanian remembers. "I saw Tim and said, 'Hey, Tim, isn't this really nice here?' He said, 'Yeah, but I'd rather be home, running a clinic.' I don't know if Grg can get away from the game."
Grgurich had no choice when on Jan. 6, just 10 weeks after taking over at UNLV for deposed coach Rollie Massimino, he was hospitalized with symptoms of exhaustion. Grgurich, a workaholic who often spent entire nights in his office, joined Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (page 32) on the coaches' disabled list.