Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: Steve Kerr’s top 10 games at UA:
Every seat at the new Carver-Hawkeye Arena, all 15,500, were filled long before Lute Olson walked on to the court a minute or two before tipoff.
They were waiting for him: “Luuuute!” Much of it sounded like a chorus of boos, cascading down from the rafters.
Olson’s old team, the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes, were matched against Olson’s new team, No. 4 Arizona. As far as regular-season games go, it was the Game of the Decade for the Wildcats and maybe for the Hawkeyes, too.
Of all the games I’ve had the pleasure to cover between Top 25 teams at Maples Pavilion, Mac Court and Pauley Pavilion, I don’t recall any matching the intensity of that icy Saturday night in Iowa City, December 12, 1987.
Steve Kerr was the difference in the game. Arizona won 66-59, after which Kerr said, “Our coaching was excellent.”
What college basketball player ever says that? Almost none. But Kerr, who was part-coach, part-leader, part-deadeye shooter in his UA days, had a different basketball intuition than most college kids.
Iowa was averaging 93 points a game entering the Olson Homecoming showdown. Olson’s tactics slowed the Hawkeyes fast break and allowed Arizona to win. Kerr knew it wasn’t just his shooting.
“This is the most fun way to win a game,” he said after the game. “You come into a hostile arena, look ’em in the eye and beat ’em.”
It’s difficult to rank the top 10 games of Kerr’s remarkable Arizona career, but the victory at Iowa City is probably at the top. He played the full 40 minutes and did not commit a turnover against relentless pressure. He scored 15 points, swishing four 3-pointers, and dished out six assists.
On the final possession of the first half, trailing Iowa 25-23, Kerr drilled a long 3-pointer over the in-your-grill defense of annoying Iowa guard Jeff Moe. On the way to the locker room, Kerr and Moe crossed paths.
Kerr pumped his fist in Moe’s face. Game on.
Here’s my attempt at ranking the top 10 games in Kerr’s UA career.