Know Your Iowa Basketball Opponents: Gardner-Webb

I don’t know if Iowa will get the Gardner-Webb Saturday night that won at DePaul Thursday night or the Gardner-Webb that lost at home to Lipscomb the night before. Here’s what I do know about the 2-2 Runnin’ Bulldogs: They are from Boiling Springs, N.C. When I’m retired, I’d like to see the world. Or rather, a lot of places in the world that sound appealing. Many don’t, you know. I really don’t see the point in a vacation in Guam, for instance. Or Antarctica. But I’d love to see Italy and Spain and Greece and Brazil and Costa Rica and Australia. I’d also like to see America, the places off the beaten paths. Boiling Springs, N.C. sounds like such a place. It has 4,647 residents. How many Division I basketball arenas seat more than that? A lot. Yet, Gardner-Webb is D-I, and will be playing its third team from a BCS conference this season when it visits Iowa tonight. G-W went to North Carolina and fought valiantly before losing, 76-59. It helped the Bulldogs that UNC was an icy 9-of-19 from the foul line and 1-of-12 from the foul line. As for DePaul, it has won just five Big East games in the last four seasons, but still, it’s DePaul. Big city, big arena. (For the Shelby Star’s take on Gardner-Webb’s triumph over the Blue Demons of Chicago, click here.) Losing to Lipscomb at home, though? Ouch. Lipscomb had been five days removed from a 29-point loss to Belmont. So a team that Belmont beat by 29 turned around and beat the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Thus, let’s not anoint Gardner-Webb as some dangerous mid-major juggernaut ready to knock off another BCS conference team. Although, this isn’t Howard, which posted all of 36 points at Iowa Thursday night in a 30-point loss to the Hawkeyes. Far from it, in fact. Let us not forget, Gardner-Webb won at Minnesota in 2005 and did likewise at Kentucky in 2007. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are a slice of America themselves. They have 14 players on the roster, representing 12 different states. That’s diversity. O. Max Gardner Tyler Strange is Gardner-Webb’s primary point guard. He is from Leominster, Mass. That’s where they have the annual Johnny Appleseed Festival. Johnny Appleseed, aka John Chapman, was born in Leominster. That sounds like another place I must visit one day. But back to Boiling Springs and Gardner-Webb. O. Max Gardner introduced a bill to incorporate the town of Boiling Springs, and the bill passed in 1911. Gardner went on to become governor of North Carolina. Boiling Springs Junior College was renamed Gardner-Webb College. It became Gardner-Webb University in 1993. So who was the Webb in Gardner-Webb? That was the governor’s wife, Fay Lamar Webb Gardner. You can call her “Miss Fay.” Boiling Springs’ Christmas parade is on Nov. 25. Santa Claus will be in attendance. There also is a Boiling Springs, Pa. and a Boiling Springs, S.C. I must go there, too. How many boiling springs does this country have, anyway?

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