By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
If you attend certain University of Iowa men’s basketball games this season, you will see a couple of young, familiar faces on the court from time to time.
Luke and Connor Lambert of Monticello, cousins who are both 10 years old, are among several youngsters serving as Iowa Basketball Ballkids for select Hawkeye games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
They rebound for the Hawkeyes during warmups, both prior to the game and near the end of halftime. When a player falls during a game, they are out there to mop up the floor after the whistle. During full time-outs, they fetch water for the officials.
“It’s a pretty important job,” Luke said.
And a pretty exciting one. When the boys learned they were going to get this opportunity, they understood its magnitude.
“I went crazy. I screamed my head off,” Luke said.
“I was really happy,” Connor said.
Their first game was Nov. 4, an exhibition against Quincy, a 100-54 win for Iowa. What the boys remember is their first impression.
“They all looked really big,” Connor said of the Hawkeye players.
“It’s kind of scary walking by them,” Luke added.
They also remember that their duties didn’t go so well.
“If someone fell, we didn’t know we had to go right away (to clean the floor),” Luke said.
“We made a few mistakes,” Connor said. “When someone fell down, we were kind of slow getting there.”
The boys watched games on TV to see how other ballboys did their jobs.
“We practiced watching them so we knew what to do,” Luke said.
They also got chances to practice during Monticello Panther scrimmages.
“The second time, we got a lot better at it,” Connor said.
That was Nov. 17, when the Hawkeyes beat Gardner-Webb 65-56.
They said their favorite part is rebounding for the players during warmups. They said the players don’t say much to the boys.
“Usually they just say, ‘Pass it here.’ ” Luke said.
Connor said some of the players pick favorites between the two of them.
“Devyn Marble likes Luke the best,” Connor said. “Mike Gesell likes me, and Aaron White likes both of us.”
“We’re hoping that we get more of the players to like us,” Luke said.
Luke and Connor enjoy being that close to the Hawkeyes.
“It’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebound for the Hawks,” Luke said.
They are also close to the action during the game.
“It’s scary when they wipe out,” Luke said. “You’re scared you’re going to get run over.”
“I did get run over once,” Connor said. “This guy was trying to save the ball, and he kind of jumped on me, but he kind of pushed off me, and the guys behind me held onto my chair.”
The opportunity came about when Dave Cusick of Dyersville asked their fathers, Tim and Todd Lambert, if the boys would be interested. Cusick’s brother was an assistant coach at Maquoketa Valley when Tim and Todd attended school there.
Cusick checked back with them earlier in the fall, the boys were still interested, and plans were made.
Connor and Luke are scheduled to work at three more games. The remaining ones are Dec. 19 against South Carolina State, and then a pair of Big 10 Conference games, Jan. 19 against Wisconsin and Feb. 27 against Purdue.
The boys look forward to being that close to the Hawkeyes again.
“They all play really hard,” Luke said. “They’re just amazingly good.”
PHOTO: Luke (left) and Connor Lambert of Monticello are Iowa Basketball Ballboys for five Hawkeye games this season. (Photo by Pete Temple)