SAM ALFORD, A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL high school coach in the state of Indiana for over 30 years, is in his fifth year at the University of Iowa. Sam served as assistant coach for two years and is now in his third year as the Director of Basketball Operations. The father of Iowa head Coach Steve Alford, Sam joined the staff at Iowa after serving as an assistant basketball coach at Southwest Missouri State for four seasons.
The influence of father and son on the Iowa program had an immediate impact. The Iowa coaching staff earned national recognition and respect as the Hawkeyes hit their stride at the end of the 2001 season, winning the Big Ten Conference Tournament title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Overall, Iowa ended the season with a 23-12 record, matching the fourth highest victory total in school history.
The Hawkeyes won 17 of their first 21 games before injuries took their toll. Despite the loss of guard Luke Recker for 17 games and guard Ryan Hogan for the final 10 games, Iowa played its best basketball at the end of the season in earning the Big Ten Tournament title with four wins in four days.
The Hawkeyes won 19 games in 2002, reaching the championship game of the Big Ten Conference Tournament for the second straight season. Iowa set a tournament record by winning seven straight games in the Big Ten Tournament in 2001 and 2002. Iowa lost to Ohio State in the championship game in 2002 after defeating Wisconsin and Indiana, two of the regular season co-champions, in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
Iowa last season advanced to post-season play for the third straight season, posting an overall 17-14 record. The Hawkeyes won two games in the NIT before a last-second loss to Georgia Tech. Iowa won three of four games against ranked opponents while posting a winning season for the third straight year.
IN THE FIRST YEAR of the Alford era at Iowa, the Hawkeyes posted a 14-16 record in 2000, including wins over nationally ranked opponents Connecticut, Ohio State and Kansas and Final Four participant Wisconsin. The win over top-ranked Connecticut, the defending NCAA champion, came in the season-opener in New York's Madison Square Garden.
Before joining Steve on the staff at Southwest Missouri State prior to the 1996 season, Sam enjoyed a highly successful career in the prep coaching ranks at New Castle Chrysler High School in New Castle, IN. His record in 20 seasons at New Castle was 300-188 and his career prep record in 29 seasons stands at 452-245. Sam Alford was elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame last year and inducted in March, 2002.
During his career in basketball, Sam has been on the bench for over 1,000 games at the junior high, high school and college level.
Sam was the head coach at New Castle HS for 20 seasons, where he coached both his sons, Steve and Sean. Despite featuring the largest high school gymnasium (9,325 capacity) in the world, New Castle's student population is roughly 900, while the school competes in a conference whose members include schools as large as 3,000 students. Even with those numbers, New Castle dominated the league in the first half of the 1990's, winning more total championships, 11, in sectional, regional and conference play, than any other member of the North Central Conference.
Sam led New Castle to sectional titles in each of his last eight seasons, regional championships in 1990, 1993 and 1995 and conference titles in 1990 and 1995.
SAM'S LAST TEAM AT NEW CASTLE posted a 24-3 record in 1995, losing by five points in the state tournament quarterfinals to eventual state champion, Ben Davis HS in Indianapolis. The 1995 season marked Sam's fourth 20-win season at New Castle and his eighth overall.
After spending two seasons as an assistant coach at Franklin HS, Sam was the head coach at Monroe City HS for one season, at South Knox HS for four seasons and Martinsville for four seasons. Overall, Sam had eight 20-win seasons during his prep coaching career.
Sam is one of a very select group of coaches who has coached players who have won NCAA championships, NBA titles and Olympic gold medals.
Sam was named North Central Conference Coach of the Year three times and Indiana Coach of the Year in 1979, 1984 and 1995. He was nominated for National High School Coach of the Year in 1984 and 1986. He's a former president of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association and in 1985 served as coach of the Indiana all-stars in the annual series against the state of Kentucky all-stars. Sam was selected, in 1985, to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary team.
A popular speaker and camp instructor, Sam has appeared at basketball camps and clinics in 28 states. He spoke at the NCAA Final Four clinic in Salt Lake City in 1979 and was chairman of the high school rules committee of the National Association of Basketball Coaches during his final 14 seasons at New Castle HS.
MORE THAN 50 of Sam's prep players went on to play basketball on the collegiate level. His son Steve was named Mr. Basketball of Indiana and went on to a standout career at Indiana University and played in the NBA. Jerry Sichting, a former player, played nine years in the NBA and won a championship with the Boston Celtics. Sichting now coaches in the NBA.
A standout athlete in four sports at Washington HS in Indiana, Sam went on to letter in four sports at Franklin College, competing in baseball, cross country and tennis, along with basketball. He averaged 21 points per game as a senior, while leading the nation in free throw shooting and earning little all-America honors.
Sam was born July 3, 1942. He and his wife Sharan, a retired elementary school teacher, have two sons, Steve and Sean. Sean is a district manager for the Phizer Pharmaceutical company.
Sam and Sharan have five grandchildren, Kory, Bryce, Kayla, Joshua, and Jacob.