Alexander's Role Might Still Increase

With his team getting seven days in between league tilts against Texas and Missouri, Iowa State head coach Larry Eustachy spoke with the Big 12 media Monday morning via teleconference. Here is a sampling of his comments.

On his response to Texas player Jason Klotz's characterization of Jared Homan's as a ‘dirty guy':

"We've got bigger problems than that. We don't play dirty, we play physical within the rules. I would say he's way off base."

On what JUCO players bring to team that high school players don't:

"Right now they bring a lot of inconsistency, and it's real typical. I've had a lot of teams like this where you bring an influx of players in. Junior college players are usually older, more mature and are ready to help the program more than, say, a freshman. You see it a lot and are seeing it more and more. They're certainly the core of our team along with Jake Sullivan."

"I've had a real success with junior college players. It's an area where I feel real comfortable and know all of the coaches. They've seen what their players have done in our programs. I don't know if anybody's had more success than us, except maybe Bob Huggins at Cincinnati."

"They've been very good to us. Junior college players are well coached at that level. There seems to be a stigma sometimes about the junior college player, maybe academically or whatever, but we've had tremendous success at graduating guys coming from junior college."

On Chris Alexander's role continuing to increase and what more playing time will be based on:

"It's more of how we match up with a team and how he performs in practice. Chris will be allowed to do what he wants to do. If he wants to become a starter and do the things it takes to become a starter, then he has the ability to do that. He's as quick as any front line guy we have and has great feet. He really isn't in any kind of shape yet."

"We keep saying Chris is a daily situation. Hopefully he keeps coming to practice and working very hard. I've been very impressed with him the last week, far more than I ever have. He has potential to be one of the better front line players in this conference if he sticks it out."

On how Alexander has turned the corner from where he was in October and November:

"He's going to practice. The biggest thing is he's showing up for things. It's tough to coach them when they're not there. It's well documented he went through a tough time and still has tough situations back home. But I like the way he's coming to practice. He's listening and fighting through fatigue."

"He tries to tell me his back hurts every now and then to get out of things, but we don't allow him to. His back is fine. He says OK and gets right back in there. It's just pushing him through these practices. But without his cooperation, you can still push all you want. He's cooperating pretty well right now."

On team's mindset coming out of losses to Texas and Kansas:

"They'll hang in there and be fine. They're not going anywhere. We know what this program is based on and I've been in these situations before. I feel comfortable in handling how we'll get through this part of our schedule. It's an opportunity to play these great teams and only makes our team better. We have a very close-knit team and I believe we have a great player-coach relationship."

"This team is starting to get a bottom to them. They're not bottomed out yet. Once we bottom out and understand how hard you've got to do it, then we'll start moving forward and possibly winning games."

On how Cyclones rank near bottom of Big 12 in free throw attempts:

"We're a different team. We had Tyray Pearson last year and (Marcus) Fizer, Paul Shirley and Martin Rancik before that. We had a real inside presence. We also had guys from the wing like Stevie Johnson, who could go into the post. When you get fouled is in the post. Our best players are perimeter guys. They take shots and we try to get them fouled by driving, but we haven't had much luck with that. So we're trying to penetrate more and get fouled. These perimeter guys don't get fouled like our post guys, and our post guys aren't threats to score, so why foul then?"

On various problems ISU has faced in last week:

"We can't execute the way we want to execute that gives us our best chance to win. The teams we've been playing have a lot to do with why we haven't shot it well and guarded. If you put both of those teams together, there might be five or six professionals on both combined. We're playing against professionals and that's our biggest problems. The coaching and players of the other team are outstanding."

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