Even though we are still in the middle of football season and Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes are flying high at 5-1 after their big home win against Michigan, Hawkeye basketball is right around the corner.
In fact, the Iowa Women hold their annual media day on the 15th with the Men holding their event on the 16th.
Hawkeyenation.com felt that it was a good time to check in with Iowa assistant coach Greg Lansing and get a feel for what the team has been up to the last month.
HN: This is the time of year where the kids are working hard on the individual aspects of their game and getting into shape. What has been going on over in Carver-Hawkeye?
GL "I have seen a lot of development, commitment and a lot of will to take this program to the next level, really. Coach (Steve Alford) had a great idea to challenge them a bit over the last couple of weeks."
"We already had a group of kids that have worked awfully hard on their skills and conditioning and strength, but coach decided to take it up a notch. We have been bringing them in every day at 6am for the last two weeks for a ‘toughness test' for conditioning and lifting. So they have been doing that for five days a week and then in the afternoons, they are coming in and doing their individual work."
"So we (the coaches, and Bill Maxwell, the strength coach) are beating them down pretty much physically, but it is amazing what your body can do. Dan Gable used to say that your body only achieves 30-percent of what it really can, and the rest are the mental barriers that you have to fight through to get everything out of your body. You have to fight through that stuff. Coach is challenging the guys and they are really responding."
HN: How have these workouts affected the guys that have been here for a while? Are they answering the challenge?
GL "They have done well. There might be one or two of those seniors that we are challenging. Sure, it is easy that first week to get up at 6am, but when it gets hard is that second week when they don't want to get up, as it is so hard for their body to do it because they are hurting and tired."
"So to mentally fight through it and say ‘Hey, I can do this', to trick your mind into believing it, the seniors have been very good and we have some awfully tough young guys.
HN: This is not football, but basketball has its own physical element; is this work something that can give you a mental edge down the road?
GL "I think a lot of it is mental. You have to be able to fight through fatigue and you have to be able to battle and come up and make plays when your body is telling you that you can't do it. In football, you get to rest for 25 seconds between plays and you have those long timeouts. In basketball, it is a continuous game. There will be times when you have to make a big play when you are exhausted and that is what this is all about and it is as much mental as it is physical and the guys have responded really well."
HN: Tell us about the strides that the players have made since last March.
GL "This is in all honesty, I can go to everyone of these guys and see improvement. We work awfully hard at getting our players to work on their bodies and their all around game."
"The individual development of our players is something that we hang our hats on in our program. We challenge them to get better."
"I look at Jeff Horner and how much better he is shooting the ball. Pierre Pierce; wait until people see the type of player he is going to be. Jared Reiner, he just gets better every day. Greg Brunner has his body in better shape and is really looking good. Brody was probably one of our best players over in Australia, if not our best player. Everybody has gotten better. Then you look at Mike Henderson and Ben Rand and people have no idea how good these two can be."
HN: What should we expect from the freshmen?
GL "Last year, Mike Henderson was a high school kid was physically talented. They (Waterloo East) were state champions and he had a great year, but some nights he was going against guys that he could dominate and Mike just didn't do that. But when I saw him last summer when he was up against some of the best point guards in the country, he was as good as it gets, so he can take it up another notch. You are looking at a 6-3, 200-pound guard that is very, very quick and strong."
"For example, on the Tuesday of the second week of the 6am workouts, after those lifts and sprints, he goes back into the weight room and lifts more on his own, so that is the type of kid that you are looking at. Coach McGraw up at Waterloo East did a great job with this kid, as he always does."
Coach Lansing had a lot more to say regarding the upcoming season, the demands of the out of conference schedule, the challenge of only so many minutes for so many players this season and much more that will appear in the November issue of Hawkeye Nation magazine.
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