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Drake Legend Maury John: Iowa Time Machine June 17, 1919

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On June 17, 1919, legendary Drake and Iowa State men’s basketball coach Maury John was born. The all-time wins leader at Drake University, John took the Bulldogs to the 1969 Final Four and posted a career record of 528-214.

Born in Missouri, Maury John initially found coaching success at Moberly Junior College, where his teams captured back-to-back national championships in 1954 and 1955. Arriving in Des Moines to coach at Drake starting in 1958, John started to build a successful program for the Bulldogs. In 1963–64, John led Drake (21–7) to the school’s first 20-win season and into the postseason, gaining an invitation to the 12–team 1964 National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

John led Drake (26–5) to the 1969 Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, where the Cinderella Bulldogs gave powerhouse UCLA and Lew Alcindor a scare. The game, often labeled as "the greatest near upset in NCAA Tournament history," saw Drake hang with the #1 ranked team the entire game, behind 24 points from Willie McCarter, 13 points/16 rebounds from Willie Wise, a famous block of an Alcindor shot by Rick Wanamaker, and strong defense by Dolph Pulliam.

John became known for his "belly–button" defense, in which he pushed his players to stick out their stomachs and play face–to–face. In 1971, John left Drake to move to nearby Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. John inherited an Iowa State team that finished 5–21 in the previous season. John would compile a 32–25 record in rebuilding the Iowa State program. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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