Carbon Copy: Steve Alford's12/4 Press Conference

"Would the energy in Carver, if that was at a higher level, would that help us at the end of tight games? Without question. That's why I think our fans are so important. But the demeanor of our team I don't think is going to change. We're starting to establish an identity that I like. We put our hard hats on every night and we come to work. If that identity can continue, then we've got a chance to be pretty good." --Steve Alford on attendance at home games. For more from Alford, read on...

COACH ALFORD

Q&A

Is Glen ready to go?

Yeah. It looks like it. He'll get one more day in. He's practiced, I think, two or three days this week. I lose track of days with all these games that we get. He practiced before our Green Bay game. He worked out the day of the Green Bay game and practiced yesterday and is ready to practice again today. That will give him four full practices. He's been conditioning, a lot of those things. Being a senior, he's well versed on what we're doing. Hopefully everything will go well and we can get him back in there some.

What kind of limitations might he have?

It looks just like what Jared did last year. The injuries aren't the same. But as far as when they got back to playing again, it's the same type of wrapping; the same type of deal to where you've got to stay within all of the guidelines and things. It's basically just a foam pad that's wrapped on the hand.

Any problems on how it will affect the rotation?

Not really. The nice thing coming off our bench on the front line, you've got Glen and Sean. We have two experienced seniors. That really helps because the bench in the backcourt, whether it be Nick, Mikey, Ben; they're young. I'm hoping it actually helps our rotation because we've gotten off to good leads and we've had some minor letdowns. A lot of that is because when we've subbed we've had an awful lot of inexperience.

Did he talk to you about getting back into the starting lineup?

No. Last year, we tried a little bit of everything with Glen to keep him out of foul trouble. Part of it was putting him next to me for the first four minutes. I don't think that Glen is concerned about that. Glen is a very unselfish player, for one. It's about us getting wins. He's very proud of his teammates while he's been out. He just wants to do anything he can to help assist the team. He knows, as he gets healthy and his production continues to rise, his minutes are going to be there.

What will be the biggest adjustment for him?

Well, he just hasn't gone up and down the basketball floor enough. Practice is one thing, but doing it in a game standpoint is a lot different. He's practiced well. He's shooting the ball well. He's in a little bit of a hurry. He's anxious. He just needs to settle down. Coming off of the bench helps him do that.

Did you have Brunner at center and Worley at the power forward in one of the scrimmages or exhibition games? Is that a functional combination?

We might have. We call it small ball. At times, we can go small ball and still be fairly big. We can still go Glen, Bru, Nick, Pierre and Jeff; Pierre and Mikey.

Is Mike where you thought he would be as a freshman?

This last week has been difficult on him because Louisville is a little bit different. That got thrown at him. It was his first road trip of the year. I'm anxious to see what happens the next three games because he's not used to playing four games in seven days; three games in five days. There's been a lot thrown at him. And as I've told him, "Don't worry about running the club as much as being a disruption defensively. There are guys in there that understand the system better than you do. They can help you run the show. Be a disruption defensively." In the Green Bay game, he wasn't nearly as disruptive as he was in the Drake and Asheville games defensively. He can really cause some problems with pressure. Hopefully that's what he'll just continue to work on.

Has Brody brought something more at the start of this year? It seems like he's a lot more consistent.

He's a senior. The maturity process has continued to grow there. He's got better and more guards around him. I don't think anybody can fully understand what (it means) having a guy like Pierre out there. Pierre takes a lot of pressure off of his teammates. If Pierre is not in there, now Brody is guarding big guards again like he did last year. Brody is such a competitor, he's going to work awfully hard, but that really takes away what he does at the other end. Brody's defense has improved. His mindset has improved. He's playing with more urgency as most seniors end up doing. And he's learned a lot in the last two years. All of those combinations have helped him get off to a pretty good start.

How much have you throttled back practice with all these games?

Yeah. We've really throttled back. That's a good term for a TV guy (Andy Garman, CBS 2). (laughter) But we have really cut back. We've done more tape than usual. We're trying to go only 50 or 60 minutes on the floor. It's a Catch-22 because we've got guys trying to get back in the mix. Then we've got guys like Mike and Nick who are only getting 15 to 18 minutes. They probably need more time. We do a lot of subbing in practice for guys like Jeff and Pierre. We don't want to wear them down on the first of December.

You thought that winning might solve some of the attendance problems here. How much winning do you think it might take?

Jim (Ecker), a lot has been made of it. It hasn't even been mentioned in our locker room. We're not paying attention to it. Is it more fun playing in front of (15,500)? Yeah. It's a lot more fun. But we thought we had a very good, competitive team last year. We have got an even better, competitive, deeper team this year. So, it's a fun team. It's a fun team to watch. It's a lot of fun to coach this team. To be honest with you, I've got a group of guys that they don't care if there's 15,000 in there or a 1,000 people in there. To me, they're going to go after the same loose balls.

Now would it help? Would the energy in Carver, if that was at a higher level, would that help us at the end of tight games? Without question. That's why I think our fans are so important. But the demeanor of our team I don't think is going to change. We're starting to establish an identity that I like. We put our hard hats on every night and we come to work. If that identity can continue, then we've got a chance to be pretty good.

What does Eastern Washington do that gives teams problems?

Well, one, they're extremely well coached. Two, they run what I call a ‘cutters' offense. They cut extremely hard. They've got two outstanding players in Snow and Axton. Of the three teams coming in (for the Gazette Hawkeye Challenge), it's (conference) player of the year candidates on each of the teams. UIC has won six in a row. They come in here 6-1. Northern Illinois is playing very well. That's going to be a great game. Eastern Washington has already played at Washington and at Oklahoma. A win helps us because this team is going to win a lot of games in the Big Sky.

Did you get to watch the ACC-Big Ten Challenge?

A little bit. I didn't get a lot because I took in Toy Story on Ice at The Mark last night with the family. (laughter) There was a TV where we were sitting. I got a chance to look at it occasionally. But it was nice doing the family thing last night.

What is your reaction to what happened?

The Big Ten has gotten off to kind of a slow start. One of the things that the Big Ten has done is we've played an incredible schedule. It is uncharacteristic that we would lose two home games in the challenge. That just tells you how tough this is. The parity in college basketball is very demanding. Yet, by the time January rolls around, this conference is going to be so much better and so improved.

Are you surprised what Purdue has done?

No because they return just about everybody and they have Lowe back. As long as you have Lowe, you've got a chance. He's one of the fiercest competitors in the country. I saw him this summer at the Nike Camp. I asked him, "Have they cleared you or are you just going to move on?" We were hoping that he was just going to move on.


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