IOWA CITY — They stand in the corner of the gymnasium together.
Sometimes it’s for support, sometimes for celebrating, sometimes for commiserating. Sometimes even for reminiscing.
“We just talk shop,” Michael Morgan said. “We can’t play anymore, so I guess we just sit back and try to analyze things as best we can.”
Morgan and Brad Lohaus were teammates at the University of Iowa, part of a great basketball team 25 years ago that some think should have won a national championship. The Hawkeyes won their first 18 games and spent part of the season ranked No.1, the only time that’s happened in school history, blowing a double-digit halftime lead to UNLV in the regional finals.
Funny how the two are back together a quarter-century later, dreaming again of title glory. It’s way different this time, though, because it’s for their sons.
Wyatt Lohaus and Jeremy Morgan are starters for an Iowa City West team that’s 14-0 and top-ranked in Class 4A.
“It seems like the time has flown by,” Brad Lohaus said. ”Michael and I have been friends ever since. We used to play basketball together after I was done playing (in the NBA). Then our kids have been playing together for awhile now, too. It’s fun to have someone to bounce things off of.”
“This has been a fun ride,” Michael Morgan said. ”It was a fun ride for both of us as players. Now it’s an honor to see our sons in the same situation.”
Brad Lohaus played more than a decade in the National Basketball Association with teams like Boston and San Antonio. Michael Morgan was an assistant coach for the Iowa women’s basketball team for seven seasons before settling into a position with the University of Iowa Foundation.
The apples don’t fall far from the trees in their sons’ cases. Jeremy and Wyatt were starters last season for a West team that finished fourth at the state tournament and have elevated their respective games significantly this season.
“They’ve been around basketball, grew up in basketball,” West Coach Steve Bergman said. “They’re both guys that really think the game, work the game. They work on their weaknesses. Jeremy has improved a lot of things, and Wyatt is a whole different player than he was a year ago … It’s nice to have talented kids.”
A 6-foot-6 junior swingman, Jeremy Morgan is second behind classmate Dondre Alexander in scoring (16.1 points per game) and leads West in assists. A 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, Lohaus averages 13.1 points and shoots 49 percent from 3-point range.
Yes, we said 6-foot-1 guard. Brad Lohaus was a 7-foot center.
“I hear that every time,” Wyatt Lohaus said, shaking his head. ”All the time.”
“He’s a sophomore, so he’s going to make mistakes,” Brad Lohaus said. “Last year, it ate me up more. This year, I’ve matured a lot. I’m learning how to deal with it. You want him to do well every play, make every shot, but it just doesn’t happen. I just try to give him encouragement.”
The boys say their fathers definitely provide plenty of that.
“He has always been a huge influence on my basketball career,” Jeremy Morgan said of his dad. “He has taught me a lot.”
“He’s taught me almost everything,” Wyatt Lohaus agreed. “He always helps me. Whenever I have a question for him, he answers it.”
Brad Lohaus actually videotapes every West game for the coaching staff. Jeremy Morgan’s mom, Cristan, played collegeiately at Drake, so he’s got impeccable basketball genes.
Michael Morgan was able to coach his daughter, Crystal Smith, at Iowa. This is a much different dad’s perspective.
“With Jeremy, it’s just sit back and watch,” he said. ”Same with Brad and Wyatt. We just sit back and watch our kids. When you have kids, you always want them to do better than you did. Whether it’s in football or whether it’s basketball. We push them to excel to the best of their abilities. But more importantly, we want them to be good teammates.
“Brad and I were on a team in 1987 that had a lot of talented people. I guess I compare it a little bit to this team. There’s a lot of talent, but it’s how you mesh those teams. Our ’87 team, we had a lot of guys who were very good, and we had a lot of guys who played roles, were role players. But we all bought in, bought into Coach (Tom) Davis’ system.”
As their sons have bought into Bergman’s defense-first system. There’s a lot of basketball to be played, but Jeremy and Wyatt know they have the opportunity to be part of something very special at West by the time they graduate.
Speaking of when they do graduate, high-level college basketball almost is a certainty. Alexander also is a likely Division I guy.
Neither Wyatt nor Jeremy will tip their hand on college possibilities right now, or even if they’d like to end up someday being Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s all about the season.
And teasing their dads a little bit.
“Oh, yeah,” Jeremy said, when asked if he heard any stories about his dad as a player. “He likes to brag a lot.”
It was mentioned to him that his father was known as a real high flyer back in the day.
“That’s the one thing he’s got on me,” he said with a smile.
Wyatt Lohaus was asked if had ever watched any of his dad’s NBA highlights, getting a good dig in on his dad’s advancing age.
“I used to a lot,” he said. “But a lot of it is on those old (VCR) tapes, so it’s hard to watch now.”