Carbon Copy: Steve Alford Q & A Transcript

"We have great fans. Our fans will still be there. Whether we like it or not, it's a wait and see deal. Sometimes that works. Sometimes when you wait, and it gets good, you can't get in the door. We don't want to be where we're at right now. We aspire to be greater than that in ticket sales. And I think out fans will come out as they see the product that's on the floor and it's a product that they like." -- Steve Alford

Opening Statement

Any questions.

Q&A

How is Glen Worley?

He's good. There's not a whole lot to update there. It's a fracture. So, you're just waiting for it to heal. I think everything is progressing well. But to really know where he's at right now, that's hard to say.

Will be able to go out there with a cast on?

No. You can do that, but there are certain rules within the NCAA of what you can wear. He was out there, but he looks like…we were calling him Clubber Lang. We don't need him out there just clubbing people with that thing. That's something that won't help his foul situation now that he knows that he has a club on his arm. And I don't really want to injure it anymore. I want to give it time to heal. He's very knowledgeable of our system. I would rather him run on the side; get on the bike; get in the pool; get some exercise that way. That way he stays in shape. And then ease him back into practice when it goes from a full on club to something where you're just padding the hand area.

How are you guys health wise? You haven't caught the flu from the football team?

So far, we're fine. We're hoping that virus doesn't go from Kinnick to Carver. That's the hard thing. With football, it's one (game) a week. If something like that hits us, and we've got seven games in 18 days. That's something that we hope that we can stay away from. But, you just don't know. But as of today, we're pretty healthy.

What sort of team is this UNC-Asheville team?

Their opener is Friday. We're not going to get a lot out of that because we're playing them Sunday. They're going to get to play an ACC school. The one thing that he's done, they've played at Michigan State, Oklahoma, Kansas, Minnesota last year. They were in the NCAA Tournament last year. They return two of those starters in McCullough and Barber. Barber is a very good low-post presence. They run a lot of the Kansas secondary transition stuff and the duck-in post. Our posts have got to be alert, and they've got guards that are quick and can shoot the ball. They like to run. I don't think it's a slow-paced offense that they want to run. It's a very good opener for us. Some openers you play teams that get shocked when they come into a Big Ten environment. I don't see this team getting shot or intimidated just because of the quality of opponent they've played in the last couple of years.

Is Horner really a key guy for you at point guard? Do you look at him as the catalyst?

We've got a very unselfish group, and he's at the top of the list. Jeff is a guy that if he really wanted to shoot 15-20 times a game could be a prolific scorer. He's got that kind of mentality. He's really learning point guard mentality of making sure everybody is getting the ball an equal amount of times and just running our show. Your point guard has to start your offense and defense. Offensively, you don't want your entry passes being turnovers. He's our best assist-to-turnover guy. Defensively, you don't want to get beat up top right in the beginning. He's really worked hard at his driving line defense and keeping people in front of him. Those things become contagious. He's learning to be more vocal. A leader, especially the point position, has to be more vocal. He wasn't very good at that last year. He's getting better now. That's got to continue to evolve into something where he is extremely vocal.

Will he play some off guard when Mike is in there?

If Mike is not ready to handle the heat yet, it allows Mike to get some time and keep Jeff there. What we can do is rotate a lot of guys to where we can put Pierre at the point. It allows Jeff some freedom that way. We can do the same thing with Mike in there as he gets more comfortable.

What do you want to see Brody shoot?

That's hard. I never really put percentages on it. I know that when Brody takes high percentage shots, in other words, he gets both feet underneath him and he concentrates, there aren't too many guys in the country that shoot the ball the way Brody does. When he gets into degree of difficult, and starts fading and standing two steps behind the NBA line or flipping that layup that he likes to flip in the air, then his shooting percentages drop. But you just play horse with Body or you set him up, he knocks them down at a high rate. He's somebody that can shoot 40 percent or better from the 3-point line. That ought to be a goal is his. But to say that he has a bad year if he's at 38 or 39, not necessarily because he's probably going to take more 3s than a lot of the guys on our team. He's the one guy that has the green light in transition as long as it's close to that 19-9 line and not the 25-foot line.

Is Sonderleiter free and clear now?

Yes.

Do you have anybody that is ahead of the curve?

I don't know about ahead of the curve. I like what is happening with some of them. Nick DeWitz is improving each day. We've been very pleased with his improvement, both offensively and defensively. Coach Knight always used to have a saying. "There's no way that Alford knew how to spell defense." (laughter) After watching a lot of my games on ESPN Classic, I might have been upset with coach in the ‘80s. Now, I understand. I probably got to D-E-F. I feel the same way about Nick. I'm not sure he knew what letter it started with when he got here. Now, he's probably D-E. He's just got to continue. Our two freshmen are coming into a very experienced group. Yet, Ben has really picked up things. He's a smart player. Mike has practices to where he really struggles just trying to pick up everything. He's trying to think too much instead of playing instinctively. Yet, you look at his production. The Black and Gold Blowout, he was terrific. He misses a game because of injury. He comes right back with 10 points in 11 minutes and causes havoc defensively.

How often do you talk to Coach Knight?

You pick and choose. They played very well against Davidson. That's always a good time to call him. (laughter) Thirty point wins, he's always in a pretty good mood. I talked to him the day after that.

Is that the day he went off on the young sports reporter?

That might have been the postgame. I'm not sure.

Did you see it?

I saw a little bit of it.

What did you think?

I'm not getting into that one. (laughter) No thoughts whatsoever.

What goes into the decision of disciplining players?

You have to treat them all differently because each case. Each thing that happens is a little bit different. With Sean, it really wasn't a suspension. The timing came out right at our first exhibition game. We needed to gather all of the facts. We needed to see exactly what he did or what he hadn't done and what he needed to do. After gathering all of that, then it was a matter of sitting him down and saying, "This needs to take place for you to be reinstated." I think he only missed one practice. A lot of it had to do with going back 16 months ago with his other run-ins. What took place was just a lot of miscommunication with his attorney; things that he didn't know he was supposed to be doing to get done. He had had 15 hours of his community service done, and he thought that was it. In retrospect, he needed 25. He needed to get 10 more in. He was able to do that at the Ronald McDonald House and the Salvation Army during that time. We look at each of them a little bit differently. Then the penalty is going to be a little bit different.

Do you have a reaction to the ticket sales being down from last year?

It's like anything. The more you win, the more that takes care of itself. We hope that we can get off to a good start. If people watched us last year…I said it before, the worst job we did was in Year 3 when we had expectations that were above the roof here at Carver. A lot of those expectations we brought on ourselves. Since we've been hired we've been all about championships. That's what we talk about. That's what we strive to get. We built things up so big, and then we didn't do a good job. That still eats at me because that was a team that I thought could do big things. We've started to get that back. If you watched us last year, from a fans' standpoint, I just don't see how you could not enjoy what our guys did. This year will just be a furthering of that because of our depth chart. Our kids are still going to fight every possession just like they did last year.

But it's all about the spin. There still is no university in the state that draws the season tickets and draws the number of people that we do. We still outdraw everybody. Some people have very small arenas that have had nobody attending (Drake). Now to say that there has been a 40 percent jump, well yeah, you've gone from 1,800 to 2,400. That's a little bit different than in our case. I talked to (Iowa ticket manager) David (Sandstrum) this morning about the comments that were in the paper today. There might be a lot of reasons why season ticket sales are down. The two reasons that I saw mentioned in the paper (by Sandstrum) I have a hard time buying. "On paper, our team looks like one that is struggling." How does our team on paper look like one that's struggling? You start writing down our team on paper, it gets fun putting down different combinations. And I don't buy that tickets are down because we haven't won a regular season Big Ten Championship. The last time that happened (outright title) was 1970. Well, that was 33 years ago. We've been selling tickets for a long time.

We have great fans. Our fans will still be there. Whether we like it or not, it's a wait and see deal. Sometimes that works. Sometimes when you wait, and it gets good, you can't get in the door. Two years ago, you couldn't get in the door. The students were amassing an abundant amount of tickets. That's not the case right now. We don't want to be where we're at right now. We aspire to be greater than that in ticket sales. And I think out fans will come out as they see the product that's on the floor and it's a product that they like. We've just got to hope that that's a product they like.

The Student Section is down from 4,000 two years ago to about 800 now. Where would you like to see the student section get to?

Again, that's the spin. Four years ago, there was no Hawks Nest. So, the numbers were zero. It topped out in Year 3 when we had the huge expectations, and we didn't have a good year. Traditionally, the quickest to go and the quickest to come back are students. When you had our program go the other way in Year 3, you had a lot of students jump ship. But the ones that are attending and are a part of the Hawks Nest, it's still very important. I don't put a number on it. It's winning. As we win, you're going to see that Hawks Nest grow. If you don't win games, I don't think the Hawks Nest is going to grow. That's the way it is all over the country.

Are ticket prices climbing too high?

I would have no idea. That's why in my conversations with David this morning, it's been more about "I'm a basketball coach. I've got to deal with basketball items." Ticket things should be ticket guys. Once I start talking about ticket prices, that's wrong. Just like when ticket guys start talking about what a team looks like on paper is wrong.


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