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Steve Alford, a former college basketball star and NBA player, was born in Franklin, Indiana and he grew up in New Castle, Indiana.
Alford played basketball at the high school level for his father, Sam Alford, who was coach at Chrysler High School in New Castle. As a high school senior, he average 37.7 points per game, which led to his being named Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 1983.
Alford attended Indiana University. During his time there, he played basketball under head coach Bobby Knight and became the university's all time leading scorer with 2,438 points. Alford was the first player to be named the team's MVP four times. He was also a first team All-American, and was named Big Ten MVP during his senior year of college. In the Legends of College Basketball by The Sporting News Alford was no. 35 on the list of the 100 greatest Division One college basketball players.
During his final three seasons Alford earned first team all-Big Ten honors. He earned all-America honors as a junior. As a sophomore Alford was named to the NIT all-tourney team after the Hoosiers finished second to UCLA. Alford's free throw percentage of .897 (535-596) is fourth best in the history of the NCAA, and as a freshman he led the nation in free throw percentage.
For the 1984 Summer Olympics Alford was selected to play on the U.S. Basketball Team, coached by Bobby Knight. Alford averaged 10.3 points per game, was second in assists, and shot .644 from the field. He and his teammates went on to win the gold medal at the 1984 games. In this game Alford played alongside men such as Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Sam Perkins, Chris Mullin and Wayman Tisdale. Alford has recounted that during the Olympic training camp, Jordan bet him $100 that he would not last four years on Knight's Indiana team.
In 1987, Alford led the Hoosiers to the NCAA Championship Game against Syracuse. The Hoosiers won the game on a late baseline jumpshot by Indiana guard Keith Smart. Alford did his part, shooting 7-10 from the 3-point line, scoring 23 points, and tallying the game-winning assist.
Following college, Alford played for four years at the professional level. During his time in the NBA, he played for the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. He scored 744 points, had 176 assists, and shot free throws with an accuracy of 87 percent.
Alford had hoped to be drafted by the in-state Indiana Pacers in the 1987 NBA draft. Popular sentiment around the state sided with Alford, hoping the Pacers would select the hometown boy with their first-round pick. Instead, with the 11th pick in the first round the Pacers selected Reggie Miller. The large crowd at the Pacers' draft party booed. Alford slipped to the #3 pick in the second round, and Miller spent 18 years with the Pacers.
Alford co-wrote a book, Playing for Knight -- My Six Seasons with Coach Knight, about his college and Olympic basketball experiences.
After his time in the NBA, Alford began his coaching career.
He started at South Knox High School.
Alford began his coaching career in North Manchester, Indiana. He started in 1992 as head coach of the Division III Manchester College's basketball program. During his four seasons with the team, Alford had a record of 78-29. When Alford began coaching that team, the team had lost its first eight games. During his first season there Alford won four of 20 games. In his first full season as coach the team posted a record of 20-8. In the next season Manchester posted a record of 23-4, and in his fourth and final season his team posted a record of 31-1.
In 1994 and 1995 Manchester won conference titles, and in Alford's final three seasons the team competed in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Under Alford, the team won three straight conference tournament titles (1993, 1994, 1995). The team advanced to the Division III championship game in 1995, placing second in the nation after suffering its first defeat in 32 games.
In 1993, 1994 and 1995 Alford was named the Indiana Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year. In the 1994-95 season the Manchester team was inducted into the school Hall of Fame. In 1999 Alford was also inducted into Manchester's Hall of Fame.
Following his time at Manchester, Alford was named the head coach at Southwest Missouri State University. He began his position there in the 1995-96 season, and would remain there until 1999. During his time at SMS, his teams posted a 78-48 record. In 1999 the Bears advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Duke.
Steve Alford was named the head coach of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball program on March 22, 1999.
Although Alford's first game as coach was a 70-68 victory against the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies at Madison Square Garden, his team went 14-16 during his first season at Iowa. During his second year (2000-2001) the Hawkeyes went 23-12 in the regular season and 7-9 in the Big Ten Conference regular season, but they won the Big Ten Conference Men's Basketball Tournament with four straight wins against Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, and Indiana. This earned them a #7 seed in the 2001 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, where they defeated Creighton in the first round but lost to Kentucky in the second round.
The Hawkeyes' conference record dropped to 5-11 during the 2001-2002 season, but they defeated Purdue, Wisconsin, and Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament before losing to Ohio State in the finals. The Hawkeyes played in the National Invitation Tournament that season, but lost to LSU in the first round to finish with a 19-16 record. This was the first of three straight seasons that the Hawkeyes played in the NIT under Alford. They won the first two rounds of the 2003 tournament against Valparaiso and Iowa State before losing to Georgia Tech, finishing with a 17-14 record. In 2004 they lost to St. Louis in the first round of the NIT to finish 16-13 despite a 9-7 conference record (the first winning Big Ten Conference record under Alford).
The Hawkeyes finished 21-12 with a 7-9 conference record in the 2004-2005 regular season, but they won their first two Big Ten Tournament games against Purdue and Michigan State before losing the third game to Wisconsin, 59-56. They earned an at-large invitation to the 2005 NCAA Tournament as a #10 seed, where they lost 76-64 to Cincinnati in the first round.
During the 2005-2006 season, the Hawkeyes went undefeated at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and finished in a second-place tie with Illinois with an 11-5 conference record, one game behind Ohio State. However, the Hawkeyes defeated Minnesota, Michigan State, and Ohio State to win the Big Ten Tournament and finish 25-8 going into its third NCAA Tournament under Alford. They were seeded #3 in the Atlanta Regional of the 2006 NCAA Tournament, but lost in a first-round upset to #14 seed Northwestern State 64-63, leaving Alford with only 1 NCAA Tournament win since he has taken over at Iowa.
The behavior of Hawkeye team member Pierre Pierce has attracted much attention both in and outside of the University Community. Following an incident in which Pierce was alleged to have broken in to the town house of his former girlfriend and assaulted her, Alford dismissed Pierce from the team. Pierce appealed Alford's decision to remove him from the team, which was subsequently denied. Local authorities charged Pierce with several criminal offenses and initiated a No Contact Order protecting the victim. Pierce subsequently violated the Order by calling her cell phone upwards of 300 times. Pierce struck a plea bargain with prosecutors and will serve a prison sentence expected to last one or two years. All these events are cumulative to events of 2002, when Pierce was charged with felony sexual abuse in an incident involving a female student athlete. At that time, Alford publicly supported Pierce, who ultimately plead to a misdemeanor assault charge, served probation, and sat out the 2002-2003 basketball season. Due in part to Alford's inaction against Pierce during the first assault charge, much of Alford's fan support eroded.
When other schools make changes to coaching staff, rumors often surface that Alford will be offered a coaching job at these other schools. Indiana's head coach Bobby Knight was fired in May of 2000 for his treatment of a student who had offended him - which violated the school's "zero tolerance" policy that the administration had adopted in regard to his behavior. At the time there was speculation that Alford would be offered the head coaching job at his alma mater. Alford responded by stating that he intended to remain at Iowa, and after the 2001 season he signed a contract extension that runs until 2009.
On February 16, 2006, Indiana head coach Mike Davis announced his resignation. There was speculation that Indiana was targeting Alford to replace Davis before choosing former University of Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson instead. There was also other speculation that Alford would go to Missouri if offered a job there. Alford released a statement on March 22, 2006 in which he said that he had no intention to leave Iowa. While admitting that other schools had contacted him, Alford said that he had not scheduled interviews with them.
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