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Thread: Johnny Orr Era

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    Johnny Orr Era

    I have read many posts about Johnny Orr not having that great of a record and the Hilton not being loud. Also since, I have no clue what to expect tonight (will we come to play, will we defend the perimeter, will we get Brackins the ball in spots where he can dominate, will we miss free throws …..) So, I thought I would post on how I remember the Johnny Orr years. For the “older guys” like me, please add on any other comments (this is long). There also may be some small mistakes.

    I was one of those who watched Johnny build our program and was privileged to attend some amazing games where as one poster commented before “it was so loud, you could feel it”. I have attended many games over the years when people have said it was loud, but to me there is no comparison. When it is so loud and the crowd is jumping so much that the floor is shaking while the other team is shooting free throws, that is intense. The crowd never stopped cheering during timeouts; it was truly amazing.

    When I started at ISU, I lived on the same floor as Gary Thompkins, Jeff Grayer, Sam Hill, Eli Parker etc. It was great to get to know them. The season we beat Michigan to get to the sweet 16 was awesome. We had Ron Virgil (6’-4”, 150 lbs) guarding Roy Tarpley (6’-11” around 240). Played tennis with Thompkins and had Terrence Allen jump over me and dunk a basketball. I even have a section of the old floor signed by Johnny Orr (ok I am a little biased).

    So, for Johnny Orr’s impact at ISU. Everyone always point at this overall record, but that does not tell nearly the whole story. Johnny built this program from scratch and it took 4 years to get a winning program (in the fourth year we were 16-13, trip to the NIT). Then 8 out of the next 12 years we were in the NCAA tournament. Johnny recruited talent to come to ISU. There was also adversity that impacted the teams. 1986-87 was the year Grayer blew out his knee and we dropped to a losing record. 1988-89 was the Lafester Rhodes 54 points Iowa year. We started the year 15-1 (or 15-2) and also beat Purdue (#2 at the time), Kansas and Missouri (both ranked). Then Gary Thompkins got mono and Jeff Grayer re-injured his knee. We went to the NCAA, but the team was nothing compared the start of the year when we had our center (Lafester) at the point of a 1-2-1-1 full court press outrunning point guards and pulling up from behind the three point line after making steals. If you get the IOWA – ISU game tape, you will see (you can get it on Cyclones.com in the DVD store). After that, we did not make the NCAA, but had what people were calling one of the best front lines in the nation in Victor Alexander (1st round draft pick), Mark Baugh and Sam Mack (NBA player). In 1989-90 they all would have been juniors, but in what was the most disappointing summer, Sam Mack tried to rob a Burger King with a knife (and got shot in the process) and Mark Baugh just dropped out (supposedly a drug issue). So Johnny was now short two of his best players with no time to replace them (yes he did recruit them, so he had to understand their character). ISU went back to the NCAAs with Justice Thigpin and Ron Bayless (a dynamic backcourt) and the additions of Fred Hoiberg, Loren Meyer and Julius Michalek. Johnny Orr’s last season was when Fred, Loren and Julius were juniors. They started out very well, but then Loren Meyer was in a train accident that ended his season. The season they were to be seniors was Tim Floyd’s first year. The “rumors” were that Johnny was forced out as everyone assumed that he would retire after their senior year and by bringing TF in then, it would help in recruiting for the following year.

    Over Johnny Orr’s years, basketball to me was very relevant. We had very good players and you could expect them to compete always when at home. The crowd was intense. I have never seen anyone work harder than Barry Stevens or Jeff Hornacek. I recall playing basketball at State gym during the summers when Barry would spend an hour jumping rope before the other players showed up to play. Unfortunately, it was not without adversity. I almost forgot that in the middle of this time, we had a center who surprisingly left mid season, I believe in 1986-87 (can not recall his name). A strong, athletic 6’-8” player who decided to shoot a gun at a car on Welch Avenue. He transferred to Northern Illinois, but missed a game at Drake because the state of Iowa had a warrant for his arrest.

    So I am old, but to me Johnny was the foundation builder. Yes, we had better teams, but Johnny left a very good team and a rabid fan base that rocked home games.



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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    Nice post. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.



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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    It would have been interesting to have internet forums like this back then. We would not have been lacking for stories to talk about; good and bad.



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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig41 View Post
    I almost forgot that in the middle of this time, we had a center who surprisingly left mid season, I believe in 1986-87 (can not recall his name). A strong, athletic 6’-8” player who decided to shoot a gun at a car on Welch Avenue. He transferred to Northern Illinois, but missed a game at Drake because the state of Iowa had a warrant for his arrest.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    John Culbertson?



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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig41 View Post
    I have read many posts about Johnny Orr not having that great of a record and the Hilton not being loud. Also since, I have no clue what to expect tonight (will we come to play, will we defend the perimeter, will we get Brackins the ball in spots where he can dominate, will we miss free throws …..) So, I thought I would post on how I remember the Johnny Orr years. For the “older guys” like me, please add on any other comments (this is long). There also may be some small mistakes.

    I was one of those who watched Johnny build our program and was privileged to attend some amazing games where as one poster commented before “it was so loud, you could feel it”. I have attended many games over the years when people have said it was loud, but to me there is no comparison. When it is so loud and the crowd is jumping so much that the floor is shaking while the other team is shooting free throws, that is intense. The crowd never stopped cheering during timeouts; it was truly amazing.

    When I started at ISU, I lived on the same floor as Gary Thompkins, Jeff Grayer, Sam Hill, Eli Parker etc. It was great to get to know them. The season we beat Michigan to get to the sweet 16 was awesome. We had Ron Virgil (6’-4”, 150 lbs) guarding Roy Tarpley (6’-11” around 240). Played tennis with Thompkins and had Terrence Allen jump over me and dunk a basketball. I even have a section of the old floor signed by Johnny Orr (ok I am a little biased).

    So, for Johnny Orr’s impact at ISU. Everyone always point at this overall record, but that does not tell nearly the whole story. Johnny built this program from scratch and it took 4 years to get a winning program (in the fourth year we were 16-13, trip to the NIT). Then 8 out of the next 12 years we were in the NCAA tournament. Johnny recruited talent to come to ISU. There was also adversity that impacted the teams. 1986-87 was the year Grayer blew out his knee and we dropped to a losing record. 1988-89 was the Lafester Rhodes 54 points Iowa year. We started the year 15-1 (or 15-2) and also beat Purdue (#2 at the time), Kansas and Missouri (both ranked). Then Gary Thompkins got mono and Jeff Grayer re-injured his knee. We went to the NCAA, but the team was nothing compared the start of the year when we had our center (Lafester) at the point of a 1-2-1-1 full court press outrunning point guards and pulling up from behind the three point line after making steals. If you get the IOWA – ISU game tape, you will see (you can get it on Cyclones.com in the DVD store). After that, we did not make the NCAA, but had what people were calling one of the best front lines in the nation in Victor Alexander (1st round draft pick), Mark Baugh and Sam Mack (NBA player). In 1989-90 they all would have been juniors, but in what was the most disappointing summer, Sam Mack tried to rob a Burger King with a knife (and got shot in the process) and Mark Baugh just dropped out (supposedly a drug issue). So Johnny was now short two of his best players with no time to replace them (yes he did recruit them, so he had to understand their character). ISU went back to the NCAAs with Justice Thigpin and Ron Bayless (a dynamic backcourt) and the additions of Fred Hoiberg, Loren Meyer and Julius Michalek. Johnny Orr’s last season was when Fred, Loren and Julius were juniors. They started out very well, but then Loren Meyer was in a train accident that ended his season. The season they were to be seniors was Tim Floyd’s first year. The “rumors” were that Johnny was forced out as everyone assumed that he would retire after their senior year and by bringing TF in then, it would help in recruiting for the following year.

    Over Johnny Orr’s years, basketball to me was very relevant. We had very good players and you could expect them to compete always when at home. The crowd was intense. I have never seen anyone work harder than Barry Stevens or Jeff Hornacek. I recall playing basketball at State gym during the summers when Barry would spend an hour jumping rope before the other players showed up to play. Unfortunately, it was not without adversity. I almost forgot that in the middle of this time, we had a center who surprisingly left mid season, I believe in 1986-87 (can not recall his name). A strong, athletic 6’-8” player who decided to shoot a gun at a car on Welch Avenue. He transferred to Northern Illinois, but missed a game at Drake because the state of Iowa had a warrant for his arrest.

    So I am old, but to me Johnny was the foundation builder. Yes, we had better teams, but Johnny left a very good team and a rabid fan base that rocked home games.
    Great post...Johnny gets knocked a lot on here by those trying to justify our current less than stellar situation relative to MBB. That sickens me...both the knocking of Johnny and the current state of our program.

    A few comments on the highlighted portions above;

    Virgil on Tarpley was not the only time we had smaller guys guarding bigger guys...Johnny knew how to adapt to what he had and find a way to make a supposed weakness into an actual strength. He used to say (I paraphrase here)..."Coach, this is our team, we've got to find a way to win with these guys...this isn't the NBA, we can't make any trades".

    Fall of 1987 we beat Purdue at Purdue when they were #2...but Johnny's teams could never win on the road...could they?!?

    Yep, Lafester was 6-7 or so and he was our "center" as I posted in another thread earlier today and we had him out on the point of our press...exactly correct. Another example of Johnny adapting to his talent and turning a weakness into a strength. Johnny didn't coach "defensively" (worrying about stopping the other team's strengths)...he coached "offensively" (forcing the other team to worry about how they would stop our strengths).

    Absolutely correct...we were relevant, competitive, and the fanbase was rabid.



    I cheer for two teams, Iowa State and whoever is playing the hawkeyes.

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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    Nice memories. I've missed the posts about Johnny not having that great a record. All I recall lately is complaints about McDermott's record, especially in conference play, combined with how great Johnny was. I'm not going to apologize for McDermott's record, but Johnny's record his first 3 years wasn't that great either. Even throwing out those years, Johnny did not have a winning record in conference most of the time.

    There was certainly less margin for error back then with only 14 league games. I don't have my stat book handy, but I don't recall him ever winning 10 games in conference.

    Off the point also, you can see looking at his record, that even then we managed to lose to Drake and UNI occasionally despite our being in a major conference--I suppose some people wanted him to be fired then, too, since some posters define these losses as unacceptable.

    What Johnny did bring to the table was a high energy team that had a high probability of beating any team in the country at home and an equally high probability of losing (many times badly) on the road. Most of all, the memories(for me) of Johnny Orr that overshadow all else were the truly exciting wins over ranked teams, something we have not seen for quite a while.



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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    Yes, that's the name. He used to always tell us that smoking pot was ok and to leave the guys form the islands alone. Since he was only there for 4 months, I never really got to know him beyond that...



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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    Quote Originally Posted by Cydar View Post
    John Culbertson?
    Yep...that guy was only 6-8 or so but he was absolutely ripped...he had a great muscular physique before most players had one.

    Go take a look at some of the footage of Larry Bird in the NBA in the 80s...he had flabby arms for goodness sakes.



    I cheer for two teams, Iowa State and whoever is playing the hawkeyes.

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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    What Johnny did bring to the table was a high energy team that had a high probability of beating any team in the country at home and an equally high probability of losing (many times badly) on the road. Most of all, the memories(for me) of Johnny Orr that overshadow all else were the truly exciting wins over ranked teams, something we have not seen for quite a while.

    I really think the crowd had a big part in this. Knowing some of the players, they got so pumped hours before a home game knowing what it would be like. I always wondered if this had a negative affect on the players on the road. Purely speculation.



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    Re: Johnny Orr Era

    Those were the days. I was in Hilton when the tide started to turn. And for any of you that bring up Orr's record the first three years, they had stunk for many years prior to him arriving. His style was great and he brought in some good players.

    I am pretty sure my freshman year was: T. Allen point guard, Ronnie Harris, off guard, Barry Stevens Sm. Forward, Raynal Harris P. For. and Ron Falenshak C. I remember Waymon Tisdale doing turn around J's, and Falenshak jumping as high as he could and reaching to Tisdales chin. Also Barry hitting a shot from the top of the key to beat Mizzou, and Hornacek shooting knuckle balls that went in.

    Johnny was the catalyst that got this program out of the doldrums and made winning expected. I sure miss him.



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