Alford: IU Presents Significant Challenge

Steve Alford knows what the task is when Indiana arrives in town, and he knows his team is in for a chore.

Steve Alford knows what the task is when Indiana arrives in town, and he knows his team is in for a chore.

First of all, the Iowa coach knows his Hawkeyes have to try to bounce back mentally from the 30-point whipping they took from Michigan State, and they'll have to do that against an Indiana team that has won has seven of eight and sits atop the conference standings at 4-1.

While the Michigan State game wasn't exactly the sort of effort Alford was hoping for, he's not putting any sort of added emphasis on the outcome, other than the fact his team needs to bounce back.

"There are not a lot of areas of concern, other than how we respond on Tuesday," said Alford.

Iowa will have to respond with a much better effort against an Indiana team that leads the nation in field goal goal shooting (51.6 percent) and 3-point shooting (47.4 percent). Indiana features the same sort of inside-outside game that Michigan State did, one that makes it a legitimate title contender in Alford's mind.

"When you look at teams that have a chance to be right in the thick of things, you have to look at teams that have that inside-out," said Alford. "Ohio State has (Terence) Dials, plus the perimeter. Indiana has (Marco) Killingsworth plus the perimeter. You have (Paul) Davis at Michigan State, plus the perimeter wings. I think we're trying to fit that mold as well having a go-to guy like (Greg Brunner)."

For all of the attention given to IU for its 3-point shooting prowess, the team's offensive success has centered around 6-8, 270-pound big man Marco Killingsworth. Not only is he the Big Ten's second-leading scorer at 20.1 points/game, he shoots better than 62 percent from the floor and has proven to be virtually unstoppable one-on-one.

"I think we've been pretty solid throughout the season defensively, and this will be one of our bigger tests of the year, just because they are very potent inside," said Alford. "Anytime you can go both inside and out offensively you're much more difficult to guard, and that's what makes Indiana difficult to guard."

This marks the third time in six Big Ten games Iowa has gone up against a potent inside-out combination. In Iowa's 63-48 win over Illinois the Illini's James Augustine scored 14 points but was limited by foul trouble. Dee Brown, meanwhile, had his worst game of the season, going 2-of-13 from the floor while scoring six points and committing five turnovers. Over the weekend against Michigan State, Spartans' center Paul Davis finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while the starting backcourt of Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown and Drew Neitzel combined for 53 points on 19-of-35 shooting.

Iowa figures to rotate Greg Brunner, Erek Hansen and Doug Thomas on Killingsworth defensively, all in an effort to give the Hoosier forward different looks as well as to keep the Hawkeye big men out of foul trouble. They'll also likely look to bring a second defender to help when Killingsworth gets the ball in the post.

"He's a load to try to handle with just one guy," said Alford. "Then, if you do any type of doubling, those guards really punish you.

"They've done a great job of knocking down those shots. You have to defend the basket, but you have to also defend that 20 foot line." Top Stories