Fan theory: Chris Kingsbury is the most pivotal player in program history

WinOneThisCentury II

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I wasn't in school til 4-5 years later, but the rumor was the freshman team could be varsity that year. And Connie could dunk a ball with one hand and catch it with the other and dunk again in one jump.
I once watched Connie Hawkins chase a ball going out of bounds at a fast clip, Connie runs over and grabs it with one hand in a palming motion...he didn't try to get his hand in front of it...he just reached out and palmed it. It was moving away from him at speed. To this day...i have never seen anything like that.
 
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DodgerHawki

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This...listen...I didn't bring this team up because the comparison was to the 80' and 86-87' teams but this team may have been the best Iowa team ever. They got beat in a game that had some really questionable calls against Artis Gilmore and Jacksonville State. They may have won the NC as Jacksonville got to the Championship.

Downtown Freddy Brown was incredible...John Johnson could do it all. What a great team that was.
Every era is different. But Brown and Johnson were legitimately great players for their time. And both played major roles for a NBA title team in the Supersonics a few years later. Both were NBA all-stars. On the same freaking college team. I know those of you who are too young to have seen Johnson and Brown in person or both of them on TV in the NBA in the late 1970s are having to take our word for it, but for my money they were the greatest pair of teammates on the same team in Iowa history.

I'm partial to Lester as the greatest individual Hawk of my lifetime. His stats were not overwhelming, but when you literally have the best PG in college at the time (when healthy) you have a great chance of winning every game. A healthy Ronnie played Magic Johnson toe to toe in 1979 and Iowa tied for the conference title. Dude could get anywhere on the court at any time against any opponent and make it look easy. His senior year before the injury was just as good as a PG could play.
 

Terrykohawk

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I think you are wrong....the 79-80 team with Lester healthy beats that team. It's not a fair comparison though...they played under different rules. There was no shot clock in 1980...so you could really work your half court offense and keep the ball forever. That's why the game was pretty much over if Iowa had a lead with 3-4 minutes left...they held the ball and shot free throws at a high percentage.

So you are going to press Ronnie Lester full court like the 86-87 team did. Every game was a track meet as it's what Dr. Tom wanted...chaos and an up and down game. Let me tell you what happens when you press Lester...he beats you off the dribble and drops dimes for easy buckets the entire game.

Sure...the 86-87 team had a ton of talent...but they didn't have size...Ed Horton was the only player that was physical down low. Brookins, Boyle, Waite, and Krafcisin would have pounded the glass and the game would have been played more in the half court is my take, especially if there was no shot clock.

79-80 Roster: Lester, Arnold, Brookins, Boyle, & Krafcisin (key reserves Hansen, Gannon, Waite)
86-87 Roster: Armstrong, Marble, Horton, Gamble, and Lohaus (key reserves Wright, Moe, Jones).

Here are my other takes:
1) Lute Olson would outcoach Dr. Tom every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

2) Ronnie Lester and Kenny Arnold would easily get the better of BJ Armstrong and Roy Marble. You have to remember, Armstrong and Marble were sophomores...Lester was a senior and Arnold a junior. Lester and Arnold were great defensive guards. Where Armstrong was at that time...he wasn't in Lester's league yet.

3) The 79-80 was just flat out the tougher team defensively. Boyle and Brookins could both play physical and tenacious defense...and although Horton would have been a tough guard because he was a beast...he was still just a soph too...Lohaus was a perimeter big so he might have stretched the floor...but they were getting nothing down low.

4) I would agree the 86-87 team was more athletic...but the guards and forwards on the 79-80 team could get after you defensively. Boyle was Defensive Player of the Year I believe one year...Brookins was a bad man.
I agree with all your points. However, since most folks on here are too young to remember, I will point out the ‘69-‘70 team. They basically only went 6 deep but were the most complete Iowa team I ever saw. My money is on them beating both later teams.
 

elway

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Chris Kingsbury was a lifetime 35% 3-pt shooter. He barely shot 40% from the 2. He really liked to jack up shots from anywhere but he wasn't the best 3-pt shooter at Iowa, by far. I don't know that he impacted the game that much, but he would have if he had been more serious about his preparation and conditioning.

Jordan Bohannon, in comparison, shot almost 40% from the 3 and his range was at least as good. The 3 pt line was deeper for Bohannon (not that it mattered). Bohannon only shot 36.6% from the 2 so Kingsbury had him there by a few points ;) I know this is controversial, but I would have to give Jordan the nod over Kingsbury when it comes to who I'd rather have take that shot at the end of the game.

Of course, There are many former Hawks who were as good as or better in that position. Ronnie and Keegan to name a few.
Kingsbury had more bravado than JBo but JBo was the more complete player and teammate as a catalyst to elevate the entire team to a higher level of play. JBo is one of the the most prolific 3 point shooters in NCAA history, one of the better freee throw shooters in B1G history, and a clutch shooter with time running out as we all witnessed many times. In the same sense, CMac is one of the best clutch passers you’d want to position your shooter at the end of regulation.
 

elway

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Every era is different. But Brown and Johnson were legitimately great players for their time. And both played major roles for a NBA title team in the Supersonics a few years later. Both were NBA all-stars. On the same freaking college team. I know those of you who are too young to have seen Johnson and Brown in person or both of them on TV in the NBA in the late 1970s are having to take our word for it, but for my money they were the greatest pair of teammates on the same team in Iowa history.

I'm partial to Lester as the greatest individual Hawk of my lifetime. His stats were not overwhelming, but when you literally have the best PG in college at the time (when healthy) you have a great chance of winning every game. A healthy Ronnie played Magic Johnson toe to toe in 1979 and Iowa tied for the conference title. Dude could get anywhere on the court at any time against any opponent and make it look easy. His senior year before the injury was just as good as a PG could play.
Magic Johnson has said before Thathvam a healthy Ronnie Lester is the best player he’s ever went head-to-head with. Pretty high praise.
 
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HoustonREDHawk

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Skipped through a lot of the posts, but anyone who thinks the 86-87 team would handle the 80 team with a healthy Lester, never saw them play. If Lester stays healthy, they were clearly one of the two best teams in the country. Louisville was also a great team, and that would have been a epic game. Tapes during the final four run show Ronnie at maybe 70%. He always had another gear, and the other great players knew it. A damn shame knee surgeries progressed about a decade too late for Ronnie.
 

Buffalo43

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Skipped through a lot of the posts, but anyone who thinks the 86-87 team would handle the 80 team with a healthy Lester, never saw them play. If Lester stays healthy, they were clearly one of the two best teams in the country. Louisville was also a great team, and that would have been a epic game. Tapes during the final four run show Ronnie at maybe 70%. He always had another gear, and the other great players knew it. A damn shame knee surgeries progressed about a decade too late for Ronnie.
Never seen Ronnie play except old re runs of games but if Magic says he was a hard guard then who can you believe
 
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13thman

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Never seen Ronnie play except old re runs of games but if Magic says he was a hard guard then who can you believe
I saw him play at Purdue as a sophomore. The most explosive first 2 steps I had ever seen. I was a freshman in high school and our coach took me and his son to that game. We had courtside seats and I couldn't keep my eyes off him. I have a photo in my mind that has never left where he made a sudden burst and I could see his sweat left behind where he was. It's almost cartoon like but I swear that's what I saw.
 

skydog0784

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I saw him play at Purdue as a sophomore. The most explosive first 2 steps I had ever seen. I was a freshman in high school and our coach took me and his son to that game. We had courtside seats and I couldn't keep my eyes off him. I have a photo in my mind that has never left where he made a sudden burst and I could see his sweat left behind where he was. It's almost cartoon like but I swear that's what I saw.
Great post, excellent images of how lightening quick Ronnie was. He was absolutely so quick that it was frightening. One of the advantages of being in college at that same time as Ronnie is that I had the privilege of watching Lester live. Truly exceptional is the only description I can come up with.
 

ICWestfan

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I think we were second on Terry Cumming's list as well.
There was an interview in SI back in the day with Cummings. He was asked how he ended up at DePaul instead of Iowa and he said " I had a dream, and in it God told me to go to DePaul".
 

HoustonREDHawk

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Great post, excellent images of how lightening quick Ronnie was. He was absolutely so quick that it was frightening. One of the advantages of being in college at that same time as Ronnie is that I had the privilege of watching Lester live. Truly exceptional is the only description I can come up with.
Ronnie was a team player, who sought to run the offense first, or he could have averaged a lot. It was interesting to watch other good players gradually gain respect, especially if they tried to guard him closely on defense and wondered where he went. I always thought it interesting that he usually brought the ball up the court with his left hand, like he was keeping his best weapon in reserve. As some have mentioned, without a shot clock, if Iowa led with less than 5-6 min left in the game, opponents were helpless... Great memories and lots of great games in the B1G, which had some outstanding players in Ronnie's era.

Edit to mention Kenny Arnold, who might be the least respected, really good guard, who played at Iowa in the past 40+ years. Nothing flashy, just made the plays that needed to be made to win. Bobby Knight made a point of singling out Kenny after the last time he played IU, and that speaks volumes.
 

littlez

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Every era is different. But Brown and Johnson were legitimately great players for their time. And both played major roles for a NBA title team in the Supersonics a few years later. Both were NBA all-stars. On the same freaking college team. I know those of you who are too young to have seen Johnson and Brown in person or both of them on TV in the NBA in the late 1970s are having to take our word for it, but for my money they were the greatest pair of teammates on the same team in Iowa history.

I'm partial to Lester as the greatest individual Hawk of my lifetime. His stats were not overwhelming, but when you literally have the best PG in college at the time (when healthy) you have a great chance of winning every game. A healthy Ronnie played Magic Johnson toe to toe in 1979 and Iowa tied for the conference title. Dude could get anywhere on the court at any time against any opponent and make it look easy. His senior year before the injury was just as good as a PG could play.
I can't disagree w/any of this.
 

Vbeachawk

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Ah great memories....... I got to see Hawkins and Miller's six pac play.. Ronnie was one of the best to ever put on an Iowa uniform......damn Dayton game where he got injured. They probably would have won it all with a healthy Lester.
 
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iabcuda

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John Lickliter was not the most pivotal player, but pivotal in that his insertion into games cemented the notion that Iowa Bball had actually hit bottom, leaving Barta to fire his dad.
 

Aleksei

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Poor recruiting ultimately is what did in Dr. Tom. In far too many instances he was willing to settle for a project instead of putting in the work to get a top recruit.

Chris Kingsbury certainly failed to live up to his potential. However, I think the death of Chris Street was more impactful. Iowa made the NCAA tournament in each of Chris’ seasons at Iowa. In what would have been Chris’ senior year, the team didn’t come even come close to making the tourney.

If Chris had survived, his senior year the rotation would have been:

Smith - PG
Glasper - PG
Murray - Wing
Bartels - Wing
Kingsbury - Wing
Settles - Forward
Winters - Forward
Street - Big
Millard - Big

(I know Smith flunked out after his junior year, but I always felt that was related to Chris passing.)

Not a lot of size or great point guard play on that potential squad, but I think that’s for sure a tourney team. They would have had athletic wings, frontcourt players who can really score, excellent rebounding and strong outside shooting. It would have been great to see Winters play the 4 spot, his natural position he never really got to play. I also think having Chris’ leadership in the program for another year-plus would have benefitted greatly guys Smith, Kingsbury and Millard.

At the time he passed, Chris was extending his shooting range out to the three-point line. I think if he was able to finish his college career and continue to develop his skills, there was a chance he could get picked toward the end of the first round of the NBA draft. Back-to-back first round picks in the draft (along with Acie Earl) certainly would have helped in recruiting.

The program definitely lost some momentum and it took a few seasons for them to get back to the tournament. Dr. Tom still might have gotten himself fired with his poor recruiting, but I think there was a greater chance he would have held on longer and potentially spared us the awful Alford and Lickliter years.
Wasn’t “poor recruiting,” as he got some great kids, Chris, Jess, Kenyon, and many more over the years. It was unfortunately 3 critical recruiting misses that turned our AD against Dr. Tom. The program was in a bit of turmoil too, in the year prior to his unjustified firing. It’s all behind us now but I still think Dr Tom was the best x and o coach at Iowa. Better than George, Lute, Ralph, and Fran. And I’m a huge Fran fan.
 
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Knothole Hawk

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I liked Dr. Tom as a coach. Had good talent taught rebounding, taking charges, and good overall defense. But once Ace Earle graduated, in my opinion he did too much of that press without a shot blocker like Earle to defend the rim. The layups drove me nuts, especially when he had a good defensive team. Just how I remember watching it, not saying that's what the reason was he was let go.
 

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