Steve Alford's Opening Statement
Tonight's game was another good game for us defensively. We got a good lead and we relaxed a little bit, especially mentally at the free throw line. Getting there 30 times is something that we want to do in our offense. Until we start making free throws, our offense is going to look a little uglier than what I think it is. We had 11 turnovers with four minutes to go in the game when we were up 20. We valued the ball a lot better tonight. Again, we pounded the glass. We had 18 offensive rebounds. We had a +15 coming into tonight. So, that's going to rise. We dictated the outcome with the way that we guarded. We had a very good team effort defensively. That helped us advance into (Saturday's) game.
Well, Greg has done a terrific job of taking advantage of that window of opportunity. He is playing as well as anybody on our team right now. You just have to keep riding that horse. We knew when we got him that he was a terrific player. He knows he's got a long way to go. To tell you how Greg is, he gets a double-double in 27 minutes. And as soon as I'm coming out to see you all, (Iowa Assistant Sports Information Director) Steve (Roe) hands me a stat sheet and all (Brunner) wants to know is what he was from the free throw line. That tells me a lot about the kid. But then I look at him, I said, "You know, if you only shoot three in a game, you probably ought to know what you are at the free throw line." (laughter) "But I at least like that that's what you're asking about." He's not interested in his boards or his points. He's still concerned about that dog gone free throw line. That's just the kind of player he is. He's a very unselfish player as is Jeff. Those are two sophomores that we're going to ride for a long time.
What did you think of Worley in his first game back?
Well, I think his timing was off because he got in foul trouble. Glen is going to do fine. He was so anxious. He's a senior and he missed the first four games. We just wanted to get him in there. His minutes are going to continue to go up because he is very valuable to what we're doing. If we can ease him back in, that's a lot better than throwing him back in 25-30 minutes.
You guys didn't shoot a lot of three's. We're you trying to attack the basket and create free throw opportunities?
When you shoot 2-12, you better ought not to take too many. (laughter) We noticed this in Australia; it seemed the more three's we shot, the worse our defense was because of transition. Our strength is making sure we establish inside-outside presence. The three's will come by what we're doing inside. We got some good looks tonight. We just didn't make them. Brody doesn't go 0-4 on very many nights.
Jeff had a good (stat) line.
Jeff's been terrific. He gets seven (assists) and one (turnover) again. He did a nice job defensively. The key in the second half might have been what Sonderleiter did. Sonderleiter really gave us a big lift. He got huge rebounds. He made some free throws. He had a put back. He was real big in about a 3-4 minute stretch.
Can you talk a little bit about Northern Illinois?
I didn't get to see much of the game. I saw about five minutes in the first half and about four or five minutes in the second half. (Northern Coach) Rob (Judson) does an incredible job. He's a hard worker. His teams always fight you. (Marcus) Smallwood is as good as it gets. He's the MAC preseason player of the year. He's very aggressive inside. He's an undersized kid that gets a lot done. It's very similar, maybe on a smaller scale, of what Reggie did for us. We know we've got our hands full. They're going to mix up zones and man against us. They're very similar to what this team did to us tonight. We'll study tape all night, and hopefully have some kind of game plan by 11 o'clock (Saturday) when the guys come in.
You yanked Mike quick a couple of times tonight. Is he not doing what you want him to out on the floor?
I'm just trying to shock him a little bit. Mike is going to be a terrific player. He's very aggressive. I love his defense. He's just got to learn. And I'm really trying to shock him before he gets into the Big Ten. I told the staff that. I don't want to go soft on him before the Big Ten and then get upset. He needs to learn his lessons right now. If he can learn lessons in double-digit leads, then I'm I little bit more comfortable because the win is still right there. I don't want to have him learn lessons and then all of a sudden he's lost.
I talked to him before I came in (to the press conference). He is a better foul shooter than what (he's shooting). And he's a better defender than missing two free throws and then fouling. That was really the message. Then, Jeff did what I hoped he'd do. He ran the offense; got to the free throw line; makes two free throws. I'm like, "Mike, there's what I want you mimicking. Run the team and be solid." He's frustrated. But I'd rather him be frustrated right now than in January. Hopefully he can grow and mature through these growing pains that he's going through.
After the lead got down to six, you guys went on a 14-2 run. What things did you change?
I just yelled more at timeouts. (laughter) I don't know if we changed anything other than just how you address kids and communicate to them. We did a lot of good things defensively to a very good ball club. More than changes, it was the players that went out and concentrated harder.
Eastern Washington Coach Ray Giacolette Opening Statement
We can't give up 18 offensive rebounds and expect to win a basketball game. We turned the ball over 22 times. I'm taking nothing away from Iowa. They have a very good basketball team. They probably do as good of a job of really concentrating and have a focus to punch the ball inside. It really kind of beats you apart. I know that's the Big Ten style of basketball, but they've got some great pieces, especially now with Worley coming back.
What do they do defensively that causes you problems?
They play field goal percentage defense. We've been successful with our motion against teams that are going to get our guards and pressure you because there's great spacing and a lot of room for basket cuts. You're not going to basket cut them. We had to change our lineup tonight and put somebody in at that high post spot that could shoot the ball. If there was someone there that couldn't shoot the ball, and even when there was, they just played a one-man zone in the paint. You're not going to get any cuts or looks that way. Any of the things that we tried to run, there's somebody there clogging things up. We had to change and go to a smaller lineup, which helped us on one end of the floor and hurts us on the other end.
You talked about the post. Was that mostly Reiner or was that the entire team?
It was a little bit of everybody. Reiner, when I was the head coach at North Dakota State, I watched him play a ton of different times. They've done a great job with him here. He was obviously a big body with wide shoulders, but he has made great strides in the four years since I saw him.
Coach Alford said that you're playing as well as anybody on the team right now. When you came to Iowa, did you think that you could have that kind of an impact?
I always knew that I was capable. I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team. A lot of people looked at me as a wasted scholarship. I use that as motivation. Everybody said that I was 6-7, slow and non-athletic. My coach in high school knew I could do it. My family knew I could do it. And my friends knew what I could do. And I knew what I could do.
Six-seven and slow. Who said that?
A lot of people think I'm 6-4. I guess I'll be 6-4. That's fine with me.
You like playing that power forward spot, right?
I love it. It's my natural position. It's hard to play out of position, especially on this level of competition. You get exploited very easily.
Did that experience last year help you though?
Very much so. I learned so much so quickly. And coach prepared me in the off season. Our strength coach did a good job. I beefed up in the summer. I got a lot stronger. Last year, I couldn't play the power forward position. I don't think I was strong enough yet.
Right at the first three minutes of the second half, they narrowed the gap down. What happened?
When you're up a lot at halftime, it's hard to stay motivated and intense. Sometimes you come out a little lackadaisical. They exploited it. Coach had to get into us because we forced him to. That kind of made us pick up our intensity. It's hard to maintain that intensity for 40 minutes. But that's how you get beat.