If there was a moment that typified the reason Iowa, not Georgetown, is going to Indianapolis for next week's final four, this could be it:
More than 12 minutes remained in the game and Georgetown, with a 52-42 lead, had the ball. It was slapped loose in the lane. The Hoyas' Eric (Sleepy) Floyd was almost on top of it. He took one step, then another and picked the ball up. Just as he did, Iowa's Kevin Boyle, nowhere near the ball when it popped loose, dove for it. He missed, fouling Floyd and picking up a floor burn in the process.
"That's the way Kevin always plays," teammate Steve Waite said later, moments after he had taken a Boyle pass and made a three-point play to give the Hawkeyes their 81-80 win over Georgetown. "He dives for anything. He's crazy."
Then Waite smiled. "I think maybe we're all a little crazy."
Perhaps that attitude, the notion that somehow, some way they would win, earned the Hawkeyes (23-8) their magnificent comeback win. The way Georgetown (26-6) played the first 30 minutes, it would have been easy for Iowa to fold.
"We just kept playing and playing," said sophomore forward Boyle. "And then we would look up at the scoreboard and we're still 10 or 12 down. We just kept thinking they had to miss sometime."
Georgetown did not miss much, shooting 68 percent in the second half. But the few mistakes the Hoyas made were just enough to let Boyle, sharp-shooting Vince Brookins, Ronnie Lester and finally Waite pull Iowa through.
"I just kept telling the kids on the bench to keep playing tough, to keep after it, that they had to cool off sooner or later," Coach Lute Olson said. "This game sort of typifies our year. We've never quit."
Perhaps Boyle and Waite, the two men who created the three-point play that decided the game, best exemplify this Iowa team.
Neither looks like the kind of player to strike fear into an opponent's heart. Boyle, 6 feet 5 with dark, curly hair, spends a lot of time on the floor. He is also a smart player, with wonderful anticipation.
His steal that put the Hawkeyes ahead for the first time in the second half, at 74-72, was an anticipation play. When Boyle saw Floyd pick the ball off the floor at center court, he left his own man, Eric Smith and broke toward the man Floyd was looking at, John Duren.
"That's the way I always play," said Boyle, who came to Iowa two years ago at the urging of center Steve Krafcisin, a teammate at Chicago's St. Laurence High School. "The first half I try to psych a guy out, I mean, read his mind, see what kind of player he is. I get most of my steals the second half."
Today, Boyle again was most effective in the second half. After a two for six first half that ended with his team down by 10 points, he regrouped.
"The first half I think we were all tired, kind of flat," he said. "I felt down myself, probably from not sleeping (nerves) all last night. When we got into the locker room, we kind of looked around and said, 'Wow.' It was like our moment of shock. We knew we had to go out harder, especially on the boards, the second half."
Shooting five for five himself and dishing off four assists -- not including the key feed to Waite -- Boyle helped get his team together. But Waite, another curly haired, almost awkward-looking player, produced the inside game Olson wanted.
"I went to Steve the second half because Krafcisin just wasn't playing with his usual aggressiveness," said Olson, the gray-haired coach who may become known as the "silver fox" now that he has a final four team. "We just weren't getting anything inside."
Waite, who was benched coming into the regional more because Brookins was playing so well than anything else, responded. He scored 13 of his team's final 27 points and didn't miss a shot going four of four from the floor and seven of seven from the free throw line.
But his final two shots -- the right-handed bank-shot layup and the ensuing free throw -- will haunt Georgetown memories throughout the summer.
"When I heard the whistle on my drive, I was nervous because I was scared they might call charge, even though I knew I had position," Waite said.
"When they called the foul on (Craig) Shelton I knew they would call timeout to try and make me nervous. On the bench guys kept telling me, 'You're going to make it,' and I shot back with, 'I know, don't worry.' I'm not that good a shooter (62 percent) on the stats, I was pretty sure I was going to make it. In fact, I was about 100 percent sure."
Iowa is not a cocky team but it certainly is confident. That confidence comes from going through a season in which the team's best player, Ronnie Lester, missed 15 games with a knee injry; guards Kenny Arnold and Bob Krafcisin had leg problems and top freshman Mark Gannon slipped on ice walking to class and hurt a knee. Boyle played one game with a sprained ankle and 12 stitches in his head.
Healthy, the Hawkeyes are 15-1. Hurting, they are 8-7, all seven of their losses being in the Big Ten and leading to a 10-8 fourth place finish.
"Sometimes," Olson said, "people forget how close fourth place can be to first. We think with Ronnie in the lineup we can play with anyone. Without him though, we can't. No way we could have beaten Georgetown today any less than 100 percent. It took our best game to beat them."
It also took 71 percent second half shooting and 15 of 15 from the foul line. It took diving for every ball and crashing for every rebound. Brookins, criticized earlier this year by Olson for not hustling on defense, kept his team relatively close with 16 first half points.
Finally, it was Olson, who came "very close" to leaving Iowa a year ago to become the coach of Southern California, who held his team together when it would have been reasonable to quit and go home.
"We kept telling them to play hard," Olson said. "We also prayed a lot." He laughed, still calm, still under control, just as he had been moments before when a jubilant friend approached him in the hallway outside the locker room.
"Nothing to it, huh?" Olson said, with just a trace of a satisfied smile. "Had them all the way."
Like his players with the black-and-blue bodies, Olson knew that nothing could have been farther from the truth.