Dogs facing team of Conroy's youth
He didn't have a hoop nailed up on the side of a barn next to a cornfield.
But the rest of Ed Conroy's youth was not much different from that Iowa ideal of hoops and the Hawkeyes.
"People in Iowa have a great passion for all their teams," said Conroy, The Citadel basketball coach who grew up in Davenport, Iowa. "But University of Iowa basketball, that's pretty special."
Conroy will get to relive those memories of his youth tonight when Iowa plays at The Citadel, the first Big Ten team to visit McAlister Field House.
Davenport is about an hour away from the Iowa campus in Iowa City, and Conroy's family still holds season tickets for Hawkeyes basketball. He remembers going to games in the old Iowa Fieldhouse, which held 13,000 people and was home to the Hawkeyes until 1983, when they moved to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The names of coaches Lute Olson and George Raveling and of Iowa greats of the 1970s and 80s like Ronnie Lester and B.J. Armstrong come quickly to Conroy's mind.
"Those are my memories, of those guys coming through," he said. "When I was in middle school, every Iowa game was televised and we knew all the guys."
The current Hawkeyes, under second-year coach Todd Lickliter, are trying to bring back those glory days. Iowa was 13-19 last year and finished eighth in the Big Ten with a 6-12 league record.
Lickliter, who came to Iowa from Butler and succeeded Steve Alford as coach, has the Hawkeyes off to a 2-0 start this season with wins over Charleston Southern and Texas-San Antonio.
Iowa is starting three freshmen and a sophomore alongside 6-8 senior forward Cyrus Tate, who leads the club with 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season. The backcourt is young but has good size, with 6-4 freshman Anthony Tucker and 6-5 freshman Matt Gatens alongside 6-0 sophomore Jeff Peterson.
Gatens hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 points against Charleston Southern, and Tate hit 8 of 9 shots and scored 18 in the win over Texas-San Antonio.
"I can tell you one thing: Coach Lickliter is a great coach," Texas-San Antonio coach Brooks Thompson said after that game. "They're going to pick you apart and they are going to find things and make adjustments on how you guard and really expose certain weaknesses in your defense.
"That's going to give them a great chance of winning games, especially since they're so young. Being able to pick up the stuff that they have is a great compliment to him as a coach, and they have some really good young talent."
Lickliter is familiar with the Conroy family through Ed's brother, Duffy, an assistant at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
"They are a good family and good coaches," Lickliter told Hawkeyereport.com. "The Citadel is very well-schooled and I like the way that they approach things ... I think they really know who they are, and they defend with great purpose. You are going to have to really execute and then you are going to have to close out on shooters and contain them."
The Bulldogs had 23 turnovers in an 82-59 loss at Virginia Commonwealth last Sunday, and aim to take better care of the ball tonight.
"We did some really good things against VCU," Conroy said. "But we did not handle their pressure well early, and we'll have to do a better job of that against Iowa. This is a more talented Iowa team (than last year's), and as the year goes on I think they will exceed expectations in the Big Ten."