Pete Lisicky and B.J. Elder share a common bond. Both made last-second shots to deny Iowa’s basketball team a trip to the Big Apple.
Lisicky, a Penn State freshman, made a 3-pointer to beat Iowa in a 1995 NIT quarterfinal game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 67-64.
“They hit one more shot than we did,” recalled Kenyon Murray, a starter on that Iowa team.
Elder’s floater from the lane hit the front of the rim, hung for a moment and fell in to give Georgia Tech a 79-78 victory over Iowa in an 2003 NIT quarterfinal game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes have returned to the quarterfinals, and they’ll play at Virginia at 6 p.m. Wednesday for a trip to New York City and the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Both Iowa’s 1994-95 and 2002-03 teams used their NIT runs as a springboard for future NCAA success.
The Hawkeyes, 23-12, were one of the last six teams left out of the NCAA field. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said that Iowa’s 2-8 road likely played a factor.
“We haven’t been a great road team,” McCaffery said. “We have to become one. If you look at why we’re not in (the NCAAs), that’s probably why. You can argue it. I’d prefer to address it, and try to work to get better. This is a great opportunity for our young guys to go and compete at that level against a quality team on the road.”
Virginia, 23-11, has the nation’s fourth-longest home winning streak of 19.The Cavaliers were 9-0 at home in Atlantic Coast Conference play, including wins against No. 3 Duke and No. 19 North Carolina State.
The 1994-95 Iowa team finished 9-9 in the Big Ten, like this season’s team did, and felt like it deserved an NCAA berth. But the Big Ten was not a strong league in the mid-1990s. Just one of five NCAA teams that year won a first-round game.
That Iowa team was also coming off an 11-16 record, so the NIT was a sign of progress. Iowa returned to the NCAAs in 1995-96.
“The (NIT) experience allowed a lot of us to grow and mature and know, ‘OK, this is what we have to do at the end of games to get that win on the road’ when we really needed it,” Murray said. “It provided experience and maturity.”
Iowa’s 2002-03 team started two freshmen, Jeff Horner and Greg Brunner. Starting guard Chauncey Leslie and Josh Kimm were the only seniors on the team.
Georgia Tech in 2002-03 had two players who are on NBA rosters today – Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat and Jarrett Jack of the Golden State Warriors. A season later, the Yellow Jackets made it to the NCAA title game.
Iowa’s progress was not as fast. Iowa didn’t reach the postseason in 2003-04 but made the NCAAs in Horner’s and Brunner’s junior and senior seasons. The 2006 appearance was Iowa’s last NCAA appearance.
McCaffery, with Eric May the only scholarship senior on this team, hopes this year’s NIT experience and a European trip in August will help end Iowa’s NCAA drought.
“Hopefully this will enable us to, through this experience — extra practices, extra games — to continue to grow and get better,” McCaffery said, “(and) feel more confident and keep us hungry as we go into the spring and summer, our foreign trip and next season.”
IOWA’S PAST NIT QUARTERFINAL APPEARANCES
March 23, 1995, Iowa City
Penn State 67, Iowa 64
Freshman guard Pete Lisicky made a 3-pointer in the final seconds to earn the Nittany Lions a trip to New York City. Iowa made just five of 25 3-point tries. Guard Chris Kingsbury took 10 triples, but made just one and scored only four points. Penn State turned an early 18-5 deficit into a 54-44 lead, but Iowa tied the game at 64-all on two Jess Settles free throws with :20 remaining. Andre Woolridge led Iowa with 28 points, and Settles added 16. Danny Earl’s 13th assist of the game came on Lisicky’s winning basket.
March 24, 2003, Iowa City
Georgia Tech 79, Iowa 78
B.J. Elder got possession of a crucial loose ball with 6.2 seconds remaining. Then, after a time out, he spun into the lane on the dribble, collided with Iowa’s Brody Boyd and scored on a runner to give the Yellow Jackets the victory. Chauncey Leslie had given the Hawkeyes a one-point lead on a basket with :17.1 to go. Leslie scored 17 points in his final game at Iowa. Sean Sonderleiter added 17. Chris Bosh paced Georgia Tech with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball