College Mens Basketball

Sports Time Machine: Iowa's 'Super Shoot-Out' college basketball all-star games

Short-lived 'Shoot-Outs' were popular games

Al McGuire (left) and Billy Packer jokingly square off on the cover of the 1982 Big Ten-ACC Shootout at the Five Seasons Center. McGuire and Packer were coaches for this all-star game, which was developed by the Hawkeye Rebounders. The game lasted three years. (Program courtesy of Jim Chipokas)
Al McGuire (left) and Billy Packer jokingly square off on the cover of the 1982 Big Ten-ACC Shootout at the Five Seasons Center. McGuire and Packer were coaches for this all-star game, which was developed by the Hawkeye Rebounders. The game lasted three years. (Program courtesy of Jim Chipokas)
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Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of Eastern Iowa sports history “Time Machine” articles. Mark Dukes worked at The Gazette from 1973 to 1998, the last 14 years as sports editor.

Some may have considered it an ill-advised shot but the Hawkeye Rebounders turned it into a slam dunk.

Debates raged in the 1970s and 1980s as to which conference was the best in men’s basketball, the Big Ten or Atlantic Coast. The two leagues combined for five national championships in a 10-year span.

A group of local businessmen — the Hawkeye Rebounders — were sitting around a table at the Vernon Inn in Cedar Rapids in 1980 when a project was broached.

“Everybody at the time had been talking about how great it would be to prove which conference is better,” said Rebounder Jim Chipokas in a 1984 interview. “I asked the guys, ‘How about putting on an all-star game in Cedar Rapids.’”

There was silence around the table until then-Rebounder Jim Schneider said, “You work on that Jim.”

So Chipokas and the others did. An idea was born to pit the graduated seniors in the two conferences against one another at the Five Seasons Center (now the U.S. Cellular Center) in Cedar Rapids. It was called The Super Shoot-Out.

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The nonprofit Hawkeye Rebounders was formed in the 1970s with the purpose of promoting basketball and putting on awards banquets. It began when Ralph Miller was head coach at Iowa and continued into the Lute Olson era. The Rebounders put on a series of Hawkeye intrasquad games at the Five Seasons.

“Having done what we did on those games, and the competition in the papers about which conference was better, we decided to go ahead,” Chipokas said.

The group consisted of broadcaster Bob Brooks, banker Bill Coppock, insurance executive Jim Davis, orthodontist Dr. Bill DeKock, stockbroker Dick Roeder and Chipokas, an attorney who was the Rebounders president for two years. Schneider dropped out due to time constraints. In 1984, Dr. Wally Benson and Rick Fry joined.

The Rebounders landed former Marquette coach Al McGuire and television analyst Billy Packer as “coaches,” although they turned out to be as much entertainers. The Rebounders negotiated a three-year, $300,000 deal with Katz Television, which would distribute the game to 70 markets.

Dick Enberg did the play-by-play for two years, then Curt Gowdy called the third game. Former Indiana coach Bob Knight, who embraced the idea from the beginning, was landed to do commentary.

The first Super Shoot-Out, sanctioned by the NCAA, was scheduled March 31, 1982, billed as the Big Ten vs. the ACC. Fans clamored for tickets and the game was eventually sold out, attracting 7,200 fans. The contest was seen by an estimated 35 million television viewers nationwide (about 55 percent of the country).

But there were bumps.

President Ronald Reagan scheduled a nationally-televised address that day at 7 p.m., the same time as tipoff. Consequently, viewers in some markets did not catch the entire game.

Also, the potential Big Ten-ACC matchup never materialized, as nine ACC players were no-shows. The Rebounders had hired Jeff Simmons Television Co. of Nashville to deliver the ACC players at a fee of $15,000. The Rebounders stopped payment on the last installment of $5,000.

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Four Big Ten seniors pulled out, as well. So, with 11 Big Ten players and seven ACC players in attendance, McGuire and Packer chose sides. McGuire’s Red team, technically the Big Ten squad, included four ACC players. Packer’s Blue team included six Big Ten players.

McGuire’s team prevailed, 89-85, sparked by two Iowa players. Kenny Arnold scored 21 points and was named the game’s most valuable player. Kevin Boyle contributed 12 points and 7-foot-5 North Carolina State center Chuck Nevitt had 10 points and numerous blocked shots.

The game featured some rules experiments — a 20-second shot clock in the second half, no foul outs and a 25-foot 3-point line.

“The first game almost collapsed,” Brooks said in 1984. “The ACC failed to have enough players, but people like Bobby Knight, McGuire and Packer set up a draft and put their talents together. The TV ratings were high.”

Nevitt was a particular fan of the game, saying, “If there’s an ACC senior next year that doesn’t come to this tournament, it’s his loss.”

The Big Ten vs. ACC matchup never occurred, but the Super Shoot-Out continued for two years. It was the Big Ten vs. USA in 1983, then a combined Big Ten/Pac-10 squad vs. the USA in the third year. Those were sellouts and nationally televised, as well, with mostly the same cast of “coaches” and commentators.

Bob Hansen and Mark Gannon of Iowa played in the 1983 game, Hansen scoring 14 points and Gannon four. At halftime, new Iowa coach George Raveling was introduced to a rousing ovation.

Before the 1984 game, the Rebounders also became involved in high school basketball. It sponsored a February doubleheader at the Five Seasons Center pitting Jefferson against Washington and Kennedy against Linn-Mar. That event, too, was a sellout.

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The Rebounders picked up the arena rental and miscellaneous expenses. The group also guaranteed Linn-Mar and Washington money equivalent to what they would have received for home sellouts. The Rebounders also contributed $5,000 to Mount Mercy and $9,000 to the Five Seasons Center for television lights.

With the television contract expired and a beer sponsorship that fell through, a potential fourth Super Shoot-Out was canceled. The Rebounders also perceived an oversaturation of basketball on television in 1985. Other All-Star Games surfaced, including a Big East-USA game funded by McGuire and Packer.

The Rebounders were optimistic the Super Shoot-Out could continue after a year off, with ESPN as the television network and beer and automotive sponsors potentially on board. But after a three-year run, the game was history.

“Had we gotten the funding, it probably would have continued,” Chipokas said. “It was a better thing than we ever thought it would be. Everybody who played in it really loved it.”

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