In his 15 seasons as the basketball coach at Augustana College, Grey Giovanine has always welcomed the chance to challenge his team.
This season, that challenge will come at Iowa.
A long-term friendship with Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery is providing the Vikings with the chance to play an exhibition game at Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Nov. 3. The only exhibition the Hawkeyes will play this year is scheduled to tip off at 3 p.m.
“It’s a neat thing for our program and the college to be able to compete against Iowa given the fact that there is as much enthusiasm and energy surrounding their program as there has been in a decade,’’ Giovanine said. “Fran’s going to have one of the best teams in the Big Ten this season and with such a tremendous Hawkeye fan base in the Quad-Cities, it’s a natural.’’
Giovanine said he discussed the possibility of scheduling an exhibition game for his NCAA Division-III program against the Hawkeyes with McCaffery shortly after the Iowa coach was hired in 2010, and things fell into place this year.
“They can play anybody in the country, and we’re appreciative that Fran and his staff are giving our players a chance to do something like this,’’ Giovanine said. “It will be a great experience.’’
Over the past 10 seasons, Augustana has played at Gonzaga and Southern Illinois in regular-season games and taken the court at Valparaiso and Northern Illinois in exhibitions.
“Grey has done an unbelievable job at Augustana. We have been talking about getting together for an exhibition and we’re glad we were finally able to get it scheduled for this season,’’ McCaffery said in a statement.
Both teams return plenty of experience.
The Hawkeyes return nine of their top 10 players from a 25-13 team which reached the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament.
The Vikings, who returned earlier this month from a foreign exhibition trip to Brazil, return eight of their top nine players from a 19-8 team.
Augustana and Iowa have met 10 times previously in basketball, most recently in the 1945-46 season opener for both teams. The first seven games between the schools were played between 1901 and 1906, and all three wins by the Vikings in the series occurred during that era.