“It’s their Super Bowl, it’s our Super Bowl.” — Jordan Bohannon
The Hawkeyes senior guard said that Monday night, and he wasn’t talking about the Minnesota-Iowa game that had just been played in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Nay, he was looking ahead to Thursday evening’s Iowa-Iowa State game at ISU’s Hilton Coliseum.
College basketball players aren’t college football players. They don’t store their passion about a rivalry game behind their locker room’s walls. This Hawkeyes-Cyclones basketball thing is right out there in the open. Players don’t mind sharing and stirring emotions before such games, as well as during and after them.
After Iowa State rallied from 20 points down to beat Iowa in Hilton four years ago, Cyclone forward Georges Niang said “Both teams are great teams for the state of Iowa, but at the end of the day we all know it’s a Cyclone state.”
After the Hawkeyes beat ISU 98-84 at Carver last year, Iowa guard Connor McCaffery tweeted “That’s a W we already know whose state it is.”
Wassup Hawk fans That’s a W we already know whose state it is
— Connor McCaffery (@connor_m30) December 7, 2018
Bohannon’s public post: “They weak for that! HAWKEYE STATE!!!”
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They weak for that! HAWKEYE STATE!!!
— Jordan Bohannon (@JordanBo_3) December 7, 2018
When Iowa State beat Iowa at Carver in 2014, Niang blew the Iowa student section a kiss after scoring in transition late in the game.
The next year, Iowa’s Peter Jok gave the fans in Hilton a “Shh” gesture after sinking an early second-half jumper.
Last year, the Hawkeyes’ Cordell Pemsl traded shoves with ISU’s Michael Jacobson after the Cyclone and then-freshman McCaffery got in each other’s space in a clearly unfriendly way.
Iowa’s team walked off the floor without shaking hands with the Cyclone coaches or players. Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery later said it was the smart thing to do given heated emotions on the court and a minor pushing match among players in the final seconds.
Steve Prohm was as animated during the game as perhaps he’s ever been in his five years as Iowa State’s coach. He apologized afterward for letting his temper get the best of him.
“Fran has great kids, we have great kids — it’s a rivalry game, things got testy,” Prohm said.
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It was all just theater when things were said and done. It did, however, illustrate what Bohannon said about Super Bowls was right.
Pemsl played in two games last season before undergoing knee surgery, but the one with Iowa State meant too much for him to miss. Bohannon, who had hip surgery a little over six months ago, sat out Iowa’s game against Cal Poly last month so he could squeeze in Iowa State in case he decided to end his season after 10 appearances. That’s the maximum he can make before being able to take a redshirt.
Oh, yes, a game of basketball will be contested Thursday. Iowa is 7-3, Iowa State 6-3. Both are coming off good home wins earlier this week. The Hawkeyes handled Minnesota, 72-52. The Cyclones topped No. 16 Seton Hall Sunday, 77-66.
Iowa hasn’t won at Hilton in its last eight tries. The last Hawkeyes win there was a 54-53 NIT victory in 2003, probably the most-intense NIT game of the millennium.
Fran McCaffery said Wednesday he puts playing at ISU “in that category of packed house, really good, well-coached team, high level of intensity, and you’ve got to go make plays.”
Bohannon’s other visit to Hilton ended with an 84-78 Iowa loss in 2017, but he called it “probably one of the most fun games I’ve ever played.
“The minute you get there in warm-ups you’ve got fans heckling you, guys talking about your family members, about ex-girlfriends. It’s a pretty crazy environment. But that’s just something we love to be in, that’s what we sign up for, playing in these types of arenas. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Something crazy will happen. It always does.
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