Douglas, Taylor highlight year in Iowa
DES MOINES (AP) — Gabby Douglas moved to Iowa with dreams of following in the footsteps of Olympic champion Shawn Johnson.
The effervescent Douglas one-upped her hero and became the toast of the London Olympics.
The teenager from Virginia Beach, Va., came to West Des Moines to train with Liang Chow, Johnson’s coach, and her commitment to gymnastics paid off with the Olympic all-around title.
Among the many honors Douglas received since becoming the first African-American to win gymnastics’ top prize has been her selection as The Associated Press’ female athlete of the year.
Her achievement wasn’t the only memorable moment in sports in Iowa this year. Here are some of the other events that made news in 2012:
2. 138 POINTS IN 36 MINUTES
It took just 36 minutes for Jack Taylor to become an instant celebrity.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore guard from tiny Division III Grinnell College shattered the NCAA record for points in a game with 138 points — hoisting a shot every 20 seconds — in a 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible on Nov. 21.
Word spread about Taylor’s unbelievable evening almost as soon it was over. NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James were among the many worldwide in awe of Taylor, who scored 80 points in the second half and hit 27 3-pointers.
Taylor is averaging a national best 38.7 points per game, over 11 more than the next guy on the list, and the Pioneers are 7-2 heading into the new year.
3. SUMMITT CLOSES
CAREER IN DES MOINES
Legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt’s career was cut short when she was diagnosed in the summer of 2011 with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.
Summitt’s final season came to end in the NCAA tournament in Des Moines in March.
She picked up the last of her staggering 1,098 wins when the Lady Vols beat Kansas in the regional semifinals. That set up perhaps the sport’s biggest showdown outside of a national title game: unbeaten Baylor against Summitt in what nearly everyone assumed would be her finale.
The game itself was a dud, as the Bears rolled past Tennessee 77-58 en route to the national title. But that took a backseat to an emotional farewell for Summitt, who a month later called it quits.
4. CYCLONES RETURN
TO NCAA TOURNAMENT
When Iowa State hired Fred Hoiberg, it was widely assumed the rookie coach would need time to rebuild the Cyclones.
Just two years later, Iowa State was back in the NCAA tournament.
A transfer-laden team led by Royce White, Chris Allen and Scott Christopherson won 23 games and reached the third round before falling to eventual national champion Kentucky. Hoiberg established himself as one of the nation’s brightest young coaches and was named the Big 12’s co-Coach of the Year.
5. HAWKEYE COLLAPSE
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz reshaped his entire coaching staff in the wake of back-to-back 4-4 finishes in the Big Ten.
The result was a six-game losing streak to end 2012 and plenty of questions about the future of the program.
The Hawkeyes finished just 4-8, their worst record in 12 years, and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2007. Ferentz, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, didn’t lose his job because of Iowa’s late-season collapse.
6. CYCLONES EARN BOWL BID
The Cyclones started the year by signing popular coach Paul Rhoads to a 10-year, $20 million contract extension. Iowa State also won its first three games, including an ugly 9-6 victory over the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.
Iowa State stumbled once Big 12 play began, but freshman Sam Richardson came off the bench to lead the Cyclones over Kansas 51-23 last month to qualify for the postseason.
7. HAWKEYE HOOPS REVIVAL
After struggling for years, the Hawkeyes appear to be headed in the right direction under third-year coach Fran McCaffery.
Iowa reached the NIT in 2011-12, and lucked into hosting a first-round game against Dayton. Hawkeyes fans nearly sold out Carver-Hawkeye Arena — something almost unheard of for the second-tier tournament — as Iowa cruised to an 84-75 victory.
The Hawkeyes started this season 10-2, including wins over Iowa State and Northern Iowa. It’s the best start in eight seasons for Iowa, which appears poised to end a seven-year NCAA tournament drought.
8. BIG FOUR CLASSIC TAKES PLACE OF INSTATE RIVALRIES
The Iowa and Iowa State men’s basketball teams had grown weary of playing either Northern Iowa or Drake on the road every year for a number of reasons. Thus the Big Four Classic was born.
Though the Panthers and Bulldogs weren’t happy about losing a home game to Iowa or Iowa State, the first doubleheader was by accounts a success. More than 13,000 fans saw Iowa beat Northern Iowa and Iowa State slip past Drake on Dec. 15.
9. OLYMPIC TRIALS A BIG HIT
Iowa City has long been seen as the unofficial capital of wrestling in the United States.
Wrestling fans showed just how much they love the sport during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in April.The two-day event drew roughly 13,000 fans per session, shattering the previous high by thousands.
10. STENHOUSE OWNS IOWA
NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., whose finish-line wreck with Carl Edwards in 2011 was the most exciting moment in the brief history of the Iowa Speedway, won his third straight Nationwide race at the short oval in May.