Missouri Grounds Hawkeyes

The Tigers proved too tough for Iowa Saturday afternoon in posting a 76-56 victory against the visitors in Columbia. HN.com basketball expert Bobby Hansen spoke with Hawkeye Head Coach Steve Alford and his guard Pierre Pierce on the Hawkeye Radio Network following the game. Read what they had to say.

Iowa Radio Network Postgame Interviews

Bobby Hansen:You guys made a nice run before halftime, but you were pretty much manhandled there in the second half?

Steve Alford:Yeah. I thought they really took it at us. That's the thing that's probably the most disappointing, Bobby. I just didn't think our guys responded. I think they played hard again. They're giving you good effort. But you've got to produce. A lot of that falls in the shoulders of our seniors. Whether we want to talk about it or not, our seniors have got to step up and play. I didn't think that happened tonight.

BH:Off the bench, you were outscored 40-9. Led by the kid (Linas) Kleiza, I thought he was a man among boys out there tonight.

SA:Other than Andre Emmett, he's the best that I've seen on tape preparing for teams. But their bench hurt us. Their bench took it right at us. We didn't have much answer for it off of our bench.

BH:In the halfcourt, it just seems like you continue to struggle. The defense dictates what you guys are doing. The cuts aren't sharp. Their getting bumped off of their cuts. What do you need to do to get easier scores in the halfcourt?

SA:We're going to have to look at it because we're not getting it. We don't have a lot of guys knocking down jump shots. Their pressure knocked us all the way to the timeline. We didn't handle that very well. Again, our guys have got to show that toughness of when people pressure you now you've got to utilize the dribble a little bit more. You've got to do a better job screening. You've got to set up your cuts. I didn't think we did that tonight.

BH:The nonconference is over for the most part. The Big Ten opener is on Wednesday against Purdue. You finished 7-3. What were the positives coming out of this nonconference?

SA:Well, just getting seven wins. That's a positive. We saw a very talented team here tonight, and they've only got five wins. Our focus has to be on Purdue Wednesday night. They're very aggressive defensively. They're a better defensive team than what we played tonight. That's a challenge because we couldn't even get to the 60s against this team. We know we've got to correct some things and get some answers solved before we get into the very difficult Purdue game.

BH: One note that I made, it just looks like Jeff Horner really struggles out there. It just looks like he's not having any fun playing the game of basketball. What can you do to kind of shake him up a little?

SA:I don't know. We talked about it. We've got to continue to talk about it. I don't know if it's less time. I don't know if we've got to get him more rest or what it is. But we just don't have enough emotion on our team. We've got to find that emotion, Bobby. It really affects us. We've got a bunch of good guys, but we're very quiet. When things aren't going our way, we get even more quiet. Hopefully, we'll be able to do some better things on Wednesday.

BH:Pierre, what can you say about a game like this?

Pierre Pierce:In the first half, we came out focused on the game plan. Free throws and turnovers limited us from maybe taking the lead in the first half. We came out in the second half, and they just took it right at us. In the first four minutes, they're up by 10 points. We wanted to come out in the first four minutes and cut into that lead. They were coming off two straight losses. They came at us hard like they wanted. They were hungrier team tonight. It showed in the second half.

BH:Did it seem like to you that they were a step quicker to the basketball or drive than you did, especially the kid Kleiza?

PP:Kleiza came in and did whatever he wanted to do - offensively, rebounding the ball, offensive rebounds, shooting the three. He did a lot of good things for them. We didn't have a match for him tonight. They really hurt us inside. Our guards, we've got to step up a little bit more on our defense as well. Overall, our defense in the second half was atrocious.

BH:Pierre, what can you do to bring your team together as you prepare for the Big Ten opener on Wednesday night?

PP:This is a whole new season now. These seniors realize this is the last go around. Going into Wednesday against Purdue, they want to give it 100 percent effort and give it all they've got. This is the last time playing in the Big Ten. We know we can do some special things. We've just got to take care of home. We've got two games this week, Purdue and Northwestern. This would have been a good road win to get and prepare us for the Big Ten on the road, but we couldn't get it. We've got to shake it off and get ready for Wednesday.

BH:Pierre, it seems like the Hawkeyes continue to struggle in the halfcourt offense. Your thoughts on that?

PP:When teams pressure us, we take quick shots or get out of what we want to do. We've got learn how to work with the pressure and still do what we want to do offensively. Against Texas Tech and now Missouri, we let the defense dictate what we wanted to do on offense. We played at a little bit faster pace than we wanted to.

BH:Pierre, this was really your first hostile road environment that you've gone into after the year off. How was it to be out there?

PP:Like I've been saying all along, the fans can't control what I do on the court. I've been saying that since Day 1. As long as I saty together with my teammates and coaches and go out and stick to the game plan, I'll be OK.

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