CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Transplanted Iowan James Sterbenz quickly snapped up a ticket for Wednesday’s NIT basketball game between his beloved Hawkeyes and Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena.
“Took about 30 minutes,” said Sterbenz, who has lived in Richmond, Va., for three years, working for an extended warranty company. He was a mailman in Altoona, Ia., before that, and was raised in Camanche.
“It’s been a long time since Iowa has been relevant, and it’s really exciting to see the program moving in the right direction,” Sterbenz said. “We have the right man (coach Fran McCaffery) leading the team.”
Sterbenz was one of more than 50 people expected to gather at a Buffalo Wild Wings a block from the arena before the game. A Hawkeye flag hung with a United States flag and a Virginia flag inside the restaurant. One license plate in the parking lot, Virginia plates, read: BIG HWK.
Sterbenz was watching Iowa in person for the first time since he was back in Iowa and saw the Hawkeyes lose to Illinois on Dec. 29, 2010, 87-77, in McCaffery’s first Big Ten game at Iowa.
“That’s when I really bought into Fran McCaffery,” Sterbenz said. “They were down big, with probably a minute or two left. They had a series of turnovers, and he called a timeout and started laying into them. I turned to my friend and said, ‘You know what? He saw a coaching moment and he took it.’ ”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball