Pierce Passes First Test

Pierre Pierce took another step in his personal journey yesterday when he faced members of the Iowa media at the annual media day event. He did not shy away from anyone or anything and he stood before the reporters a more mature and humble individual than we had seen two years ago.

The Pierre Pierce story has been well documented over the course of the last year, so there is no reason to go into a long rehashing of events.

Pierce made a severe error in judgment that affected another human being. He and the victim agreed to Pierce sitting out last season.

Some Iowa basketball fans felt that punishment was not enough, as it amounted to a redshirt year. But for a player who did things as an Iowa freshman that few others had ever done before him, it was a severe punishment.

As Iowa officially began the 2003-2004 season with the Media Day event on Thursday, October 16th, Pierre Pierce answered all questions. He did not hide or duck from anyone or anything.

As he was asked some hard questions, he replied by looking each reporter in the eye and did not offer up many clichés.

The Pierre Pierce that was before us in 2003 was a different young man than we spoke to in 2001.

Gone were the wide eyes, gone was the naivety that so many true freshman arrive on campus with.

Pierce has gone through a crucible of torment and ridicule that he opened himself up to. There were times of self-doubt. There were tears. There are regrets.

When a man is faced with adversity, he can either lie down and let it get the best of him or he can stand up, face the music and try to be a better person for having dealt with the storms that life can sometimes throw our way, or in the case of Pierce, the storms that we can bring onto ourselves.

A lesser man would have escaped the whirlwind and scrutiny of Iowa City last year and might have just packed it in and headed for home.

But Pierce chose the road less traveled and faced the firestorm without retreat, though there was little quarter for him.

There will be more storms this season when Iowa hits the road in the Big Ten conference and there will be more questions.

But Pierce passed his first test at media day, much more a man now than he was two years ago.

Q: How does it finally feel to be able to focus on a basketball season after the events of last year?

Pierre Pierce: "{It has been a long time coming. Last year was an unfortunate situation for a lot of people. I will never forget what I went through and what others went through. I feel that I am now a better person, player and a student and that I have matured through this entire process with the help of my teammates, the coaching staff, family, friends and the fans have been supportive. I am excited to get back on the court and I think we have a lot of optimism this year so we should expect a lot of great things."

Q: There have been several children here today that have asked you for your autograph. How does that make you feel?

PP: "That is a great feeling when anyone asks for my autograph or wants a picture. That is a good feeling to have when you are a player."

"The community has been great to me. I have no complaints. I did my community service this year at the Salvation Army, working with a lot of kids and doing whatever they asked me to do. It was an experience I will never forget."

Q: How did your teammates help you through this past year of your life?

PP: "Last year, my teammates were great to me. This year, I get a chance to pay back their support when I get to play hard for them and with them. Throughout all of this, they have had my back and this year I have their back."

"The camaraderie built last year is carrying over to this year. This team, there is no selfishness at all and we are tight on and off of the court which should really help us."

Q: Do you feel that you can add athleticism to this team, something that was missing last year?

PP: "We add Erek Hansen, Nick DeWitz, Mike Henderson and Ben Rand to the mix. Erek was here one year, Nick was here last semester, so we really only have two true freshmen coming in, so we add more depth at every position. We should be able to do more things defensively, pushing the ball up the court and I think it should be a lot of fun." (note: Pierce never commented on himself)

Q: How was the Australia trip for you, getting back on the court with your team?

PP: "It was a great feeling being there. Just being in Australia was a great experience in and of itself. On the court, we went 4-1 and had a good run. It was fun to get back on the court with my teammates and being in a game situation. I can't wait for this year to start."

Q: When you watched Iowa play last year and when they lost, was that hard for you knowing that you might have been able to make a difference?

PP: "It was frustrating any time that we lost last year, especially when I knew I could have been out there helping. But I was there for them mentally, like they were for me. I hope to pay that back this year."

Q: What differences will we see in your game this year?

PP: "I gained more strength and an ability to shoot, drive and push the ball. The coaches wanted me to work on my leadership, and I think that I have improved that with the help of the four seniors."

"You have to have confidence in your game. There is a thin line between confidence and cockiness. To play in the Big Ten, you have to be confident in yourself and your teammates."


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