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Floyd Honored By Hall of Fame Induction
Courtesy: Iowa State University Athletics
AMES, Iowa - Former Iowa State head coach Tim Floyd will make a return trip to Ames in less than two weeks, and he couldn't be more excited. Iowa State's all-time winningest hoops coach by percentage (.633), Floyd is one of five former Cyclone greats to be inducted into Iowa State's 2011 Letterwinners Hall of Fame class on Sept. 2.
It's an honor he is extremely proud of.
"I am so very honored, given the great coaches and players that have been there over the years," Floyd said. "I really appreciate that they would remember me."
Floyd was a rising star in the college basketball coaching world when he was hired to replace Iowa State's legendary Johnny Orr in 1994. He coached the Cyclones for four seasons, leading Iowa State to three NCAA Championship appearances, including a Sweet Sixteen berth (1997) and the 1996 Big Eight Tournament title.
In his first season with the Cyclones (1994-95), Floyd had the privilege of coaching current Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg as a Cyclone. They still remain close friends.
"Our relationship has evolved from player/coach to friend and I feel like you pull for a guy who you consider to be a very close friend," Floyd said. "I pull harder for him probably more than anyone in the business today because I know what he represents and how much that school means to him. With Fred as the coach at Iowa State it has allowed us to become closer because we share a lot of common experiences now. It has allowed us to talk more than we did when he played for me, and to a different level in terms of the subject matter."
A native of Hattiesburg, Miss., Floyd received his first full-time coaching job in 1977 as an assistant for Hall of Fame coach Don "The Bear" Haskins at UTEP. His success with the Miners, including three NCAA Championship appearances, earned him the opportunity for his first head coaching position in 1986 with Idaho. He spent two seasons with the Vandals before taking over the reins at New Orleans in 1988.
At UNO, Floyd started to gain national recognition for his coaching. He led the Privateers to four regular-season conference titles and two NCAA Championship berths, averaging 21 wins per season.
Iowa State had just finished a 14-13 campaign in 1993-94 when Orr, who had coached the Cyclones to unprecedented success, decided to retire after 14 seasons. Floyd was one of former Iowa State Athletics Director Gene Smith's first targets to replace Orr. After wavering on his decision to leave New Orleans for a month, Floyd took the job and was named Orr's successor in May of 1994.
Iowa State was loaded with a number of outstanding seniors in his first Cyclone season (1994-95), including All-American Hoiberg, Loren Meyer, Julius Michalik and Hurl Beechum. Floyd's ball-control and defensive-oriented style was a stark contrast from the run-and-gun Orr teams. But Cyclone fans soon realized what they were going to get with Floyd roaming the sidelines: A winning team.
Floyd led the Cyclones to a then-school-record 23 wins in his first season. Iowa State was ranked in the Associated Press top 25 for 11 consecutive weeks, peaking at No. 11. A win over No. 3 Kansas (69-65) in Ames boosted the Cyclones into the top 15 of the national polls in the early part of the conference season, but a couple of close late-season losses put Iowa State in jeopardy of making the NCAA Championship. Floyd and the Cyclones regrouped in the Big Eight Championship, downing No. 17 Missouri (68-50) and No. 2 Kansas (82-70) in overtime to earn a spot in the Big Eight Championship final and the NCAA Championship.
With the loss of four starters and 95 percent of its scoring, the Cyclones were picked to finish last in many of the 1995-96 preseason conference polls. Floyd scrambled to field a competitive team, finding players from across the country. His group of transfers and newcomers started to gel by mid season, shocking the nation by placing second in the Big Eight at 9-5.
The upstart Cyclones, led by Iowa State All-Century team members Dedric Willoughby and Kelvin Cato, continued their stellar play into the final Big Eight Championship. Iowa State again reached the tournament title game, this time getting the victory with a memorable 56-55 win over No. 5 Kansas to claim the school's first-ever postseason tournament championship. Iowa State broke the school mark for wins in a season (24) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive year. Floyd raked in the postseason honors. He was named Big Eight Coach of the Year, District Coach of the Year (USBWA & NABC) and the AP's National Coach of the Year Runner-up.
"That team was special because of its talent, and because the players were givers vs. takers," Floyd said. "They were guys who exceeded the recruiting grades that they were given by the experts. They were guys who could play for anybody in the country, but came in humbled by the low expectations. They had the talent to achieve great things because they were humble and they were hungry and they were givers. Kelvin Cato played for a decade in the NBA and he was probably our fourth most effective player game in and game out. That team had Jacy Holloway, who was smart and tough, Dedric Willoughby, who was runner up for Big 12 Player of the Year, Shawn Bankhead, who was probably the best defensive player I have ever coached, and Kenny Pratt, who was a nightmare of a matchup for any player in that conference."
The national media couldn't overlook Floyd's 1996-97 Cyclone squad. Iowa State returned all five starters and was rated ninth nationally in the preseason polls. The Cyclones raced out to a school-record 10-0 start and earned their second-highest national ranking in school history at No. 4. Iowa State tied for third in the Big 12 (10-6) and advanced to its school-record third consecutive NCAA Championship. After wins over Illinois State and Cincinnati, Iowa State advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for just the third time in school history before falling in overtime to UCLA on a last-second shot.
The win over Cincinnati is special to Floyd.
"Cincinnati was the No. 1 seed in the round of 16 and you just knew that you were involved with something really special in that game," Floyd recollected. "You were the underdog against a team many people thought could win the national championship. It kind of epitomized what that team was all about. Nobody cared who took the shot. Guys were willing to turn down a shot for a great shot. And we played with very few mistakes."
Iowa State struggled in Floyd's last season (12-18) in 1997-98, as the Cyclones had to replace their entire starting lineup for the second time in Floyd's tenure. Prior to the season, Floyd landed one of the biggest recruits in school history in Marcus Fizer. The McDonald's All-American would be the cornerstone of one of Iowa State's greatest teams two years later.
Persistent rumors dogged Floyd in his final season. The reports turned out to be true when he resigned from Iowa State in the summer of 1998 to replace Phil Jackson of the NBA's Chicago Bulls.
In his four years with the Cyclones, Floyd produced an 81-47 record, the best winning percentage (.633) in school history. His four NCAA Championship wins is the most by any coach at Iowa State. He tutored six Cyclones who went onto NBA careers (Hoiberg, Meyer, Cato, Willoughby, Fizer and Paul Shirley).
Floyd coached four years with the Bulls (1998-2002) and one year with the NBA's New Orleans Hornets (2003-04) before getting back into the college game. He accepted head coaching duties at USC in the middle of the 2005-06 season. He led the Trojans to three-straight NCAA Championship appearances. He is now beginning his second season as the head coach at UTEP.
He is looking forward to catching up with his old friends in Ames.
"It was a special time in our life," Floyd said. "It provides a great opportunity to see old friends, and we share nothing but great memories. We're so grateful that we've been remembered and we're looking forward to the weekend."
The Iowa State Letterwinners Club Hall of Fame banquet is on Friday, Sept. 2 at the Gateway Hotel in Ames. To purchase tickets for the banquet, contact Diane Shearer at email@example.com or 515-294-5072.