Frank Bucky O'Conner

Former University of Iowa basketball coach Frank Bucky O'Conner. This images appeared in the 1956 University of Iowa yearbook, Hawkeye.

Keeping the faith.

Long before Tim Tebow there was Frank "Bucky'' O'Connor, the finest men's basketball coach in University of Iowa history.

O'Connor, who perished in an automobile accident on April 22, 1958, outlined on paper his philosophy of life as it pertained to athletics to a 1953-54 Iowa team that displayed great promise.

"The boy who has faith in God can look to the future without worry or strain. I firmly believe that the boys on our team who attend church are more likely to be successful because they can face their problems with hope and encouragement,'' said O'Connor.

A short while later, in 1956, those players lost to San Francisco in the NCAA national title game.

"Tebowing'' wouldn't have helped the Hawks against San Francisco, although O'Connor's team eventually had to bow down to Bill Russell, who was lording it all over the college game back then.

One of the "boys'' O'Connor coached was Dave Gunther of Le Mars, Iowa's most valuable player from 1957-59 who led the Hawkeyes in scoring each of those seasons.

Interestingly, Iowa's starting lineup in 1956-57 included two Siouxland sophomores, the 6-foot-7 Gunther and 6-10 Peer Hegg of Rock Valley.

LEAVITT LEFT

Now that the Houston Texans have been sidelined, it appears San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt stands alone in that fraternity of those with Siouxland ties still in the hunt for a Super Bowl ring.

Leavitt is a former Morningside football assistant and head track coach.

Meanwhile, the season is over for Houston tight end and long snapper Joel Dreessen after a loss to Baltimore.

Dreessen was born in Ida Grove on July 26, 1982, and after the family moved to Fort Morgan, Colo., he starred there as a prep and then at Colorado State.

This season, the 6-4, 245-pound sixth-year pro caught 28 passes for 353 yards and six touchdowns.

The son of Linda and Gary Dreessen was a sixth-round draft pick of the New York Jets in 2005 and snared his first NFL scoring pass, as a Texan, from another Iowan, Maquoketa's Sage Rosenfels on Oct. 28, 2007.

CURIOUSER, CURIOUSER

Big 12 women's basketball is no wonderland. You know what you're getting. No. 1 Baylor, defending national champ Texas A&M and national power Nebraska are three examples.

Coach Bill Fennelly's Iowa State women have been so successful for 17 seasons it makes you wonder how his current Cyclones have started 0-4 in the Big 12 after a 59-33 loss to reigning NCAA champ Texas A&M last week.

The loss was the worst for ISU (12-9), which hosts Texas Tech today, since a 68-33 drubbing from Kansas State in February of 2004.

Also, in case you're wondering what ISU's worst loss has been, right if you named: Drake by 65 (122-57, Feb. 23, 1981).

Fennelly's been facing off-court medical issues, but his fiery demeanor is still readily apparent.

SCHOLAR-ATHLETES

Seems like only yesterday that Robert Kellogg became North High's first state wrestling champ in 2007, when he won at 160 pounds over BJ Brooks of Waterloo West to reign supreme in Class 3A.

Last Sunday, the Northwestern University redshirt senior lost an 11-4 decision at 184 to Iowa's Vinnie Wagner in a meeting of not only former Iowa prep champs, but likely the Big Ten Conference's premier mat scholar-athletes.

While Kellogg won at 160 in 3A in '07, going 53-0, Osage's Wagner prevailed at 189 pounds in 2A to cap a 48-0 season.

Injuries have plagued Kellogg during his collegiate career and the loss to Wagner left him 2-9 this season and 26-53 for his career.

ST. MARY'S NO. 1

The latest USA Today national high school girls basketball rankings has Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's ranked No. 1.

St. Mary's, you'll remember, lost in the title game twice, in 2005 and 2006, to Sioux City North in the high-powered Sacajawea National Invitational Girls Tournament in Our Town. In each of those years St. Mary's went on to win Arizona large school state titles.

Schools from California to New Hampshire participated in the high-powered event, the brainchild of Sioux City businessman John Adams.

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