Inside Iowa Basketball With Bobby Hansen

HN.com caught up with our resident hoops expert to talk about recent action involving Iowa. Bobby breaks down Tuesday's emotional win at Minnesota following a disappointing setback versus Northwestern. He also takes a look ahead at what awaits the Hawkeyes in Champaign on Saturday. Get inside Iowa basketball with Bobby Hansen, right here at HN.com.

Would you like to start with some of your general thoughts before I ask specifics?

I had a feeling that they'd play well. I think the kids were embarrassed Saturday afternoon against Northwestern. The best thing that can happen is that you get back in the gym. That's what they did, I was told, on Sunday with a good, hard, intense workout. They went over mistakes they had made. Flying over to catch the team charter (on Monday), I had some time to kill and stopped over and watched practice. I really liked how they were working and paying attention to the coaches and focusing in on breaking the zone. They worked on a lot of halfcourt execution. They knew Minnesota was going to throw the zone on them.

When the game was still in question, (Minnesota) had more of a three quarter court 1-2-2. Iowa was working against that and made all of the right passes. Now, when they slapped the panic press on them at the end there, Iowa tossed it around a bit. But the game was out of question. You're tired. You're hanging on at that time.

The free throw shooting was as good as I've seen it all year long. That's just a testament to the work the kids and everybody has put in to be able to step up there and knock them down.

The game plan was perfect. Shifting to the 2-3 zone was a very good coaching move. You saw that it worked early, and they just stayed with it. Minnesota had no answers for them. I thought that (Iowa) was the aggressor of the basketball game. It just proves once again that the team that goes after the ball and is the hardest working and the most aggressive is 90 percent of the time going to win the game.

What made the 2-3 so effective?

Part of it was their offense being so reliant on getting the ball to Kris Humphries. He had a hard time catching it where he wanted to. Our big people played big. Greg Brunner muscled Humphries early and got him frustrated. Then on the outside, Jeff and Brody and Pierre were playing big. They maybe watched a little bit of how Northwestern played that zone. They had their arms up and out and active. They made it difficult for the shooters to get shots where they wanted them. Minnesota didn't have real good outside shooters. And then Bauer came into the game, they were very aware of where he was. He's going to knock down one or two, but you can't let him go off.

In the second half, (Iowa) rebounded a lot better out of the zone. The first half, Hargrove and Humphries were able to sneak in there and get some extra shots off of offensive rebounds. In the second half, Jared and Sean and Glen, those big guys inside really dominated. They got the fastbreak going, and it seemed like they had Minnesota backpedaling. The hole kept getting deeper for them, and Iowa's confidence continued to grow.

We saw it with Syracuse last year being able to be effective using the zone. Is the zone defense becoming more effective because of the lack of the development of outside shooters in this country?

That's what I was thinking driving back late last night. People don't want to play zone. It's almost like it's a weakness. It's not. I was the same way. It's all man-to-man. You've got to be able to stick guys. My old NBA roots taught us that you're not a tough team if you can't stop somebody in the halfcourt.

Don't work harder, work smarter. You've got to be smart about it with what a team can and cannot do. Now, you can't sit in a zone and a team's bombing you over the top it. You've got to come out and mix it up.

Yeah, that's what my thought was. Teams don't have shooters anymore. You used to have three or four shooters on a basketball team. You had to be aware of where they were at all times and keep track of them in that zone. But when they only have one guy out there, maybe two, it makes your job a lot easier to track them. You can pack it in there.

The problem with the zone has always been rebounding. You're into an area. It's kind of like a football team with a secondary. You're playing the zone. You've got to communicate. You've got to talk, and you've got to be into every possession. That's what Iowa did a much better job of in the second half.

But to answer (the original) question, yeah, it's a fundamental problem. Shooters just aren't being developed. It's the highlight reel, once again. It's the ESPN problem. Everybody wants to get to the basket and make the Michael Jordan move. But in the evolution of Michael's game, he became a great jump shooter. So did Magic. Now you see LeBron having to develop that outside game. He's been amazing. He's been able to develop it in about the last two months. Shooting, as us old timers would say, is a lost art. Maybe things like this will bring about more emphasis at the junior high level to work on that shot. You'll always have a place in the game of basketball if you can shoot the basketball.

So, was Coach Alford right in calling out his seniors?

Was he right about the seniors? He just challenged them. Those are the leaders of your basketball team. Those are kids that have been in the program for four years. It certainly proved right. The kids would be the first to tell you that they weren't happy with the way that they played. You talk to Brody and you talk to Sean, they know that they let him down. As time starts to tick away in their careers, they got together and said, "Hey, let's play. Let's make up for that loss at home. We've got 13 Big Ten games left in our career here."

It was good to see them play with confidence more than anything, Rob. I don't like to watch basketball when the players are out there hesitant and afraid. You've got to play this game instinctively and play with confidence. And that's what I saw from the Iowa team right from the beginning (against Minnesota).

Jeff Horner hit some big 3-point shots early in that basketball game. Steve called him his little linebacker. That was a great analogy. There's no one tougher on the basketball court than Jeff Horner.

Was the needed emotion there last night that was perhaps missing against Missouri and Northwestern?

You've got to have that emotion whether it be a tough situation or something that's going your way. You have to have that focus. Jerry Sloan talked about it with Kirilenko. He has the same thing that John Stockton has. That's playing with that passion, that emotion. Never taking a possession off. You're focused on where the basketball is and what the score of the game is and how much time is left and what the proper play is that has to be made. That's the constant challenge of getting your team ready to play and being a good teammate. You're going to make mistakes. You can't compound them by not being into it. You've got to be helping each other out. If someone beats their man on the drive, two guys have to be over there blocking the path. Somebody has to rotate off of the back side to drop down and pick up that guy's man.

What do we do at center now. Sean looked pretty good. Did he earn the right to keep the starting spot?

Yeah. Absolutely. Jared looked comfortable off of the bench. Sean gave a spark in the starting lineup at the beginning. He made his free throws. It was one of the toughest games that I saw Sean play. He wasn't taking any crap from Humphries, who I thought got a little bit chippy in there. Sean matched him. Glen came in there and gave him a lot of support. Greg Brunner was probably the forgotten man in it all, but he was battling Humphries early. He got him off of the blocks and pushing him out further than he wanted to be. That's why you saw a lot of Humphries shots fall short.

But Sean was going after loose balls. He was blocking out. He was in the middle of a lot of action. And he plays with a calmness when he's into the game. He's not rushing around there trying to do too much. Yeah. It certainly worked in that game. You've got to keep it for the next one. And Jared's foot is bothering him more than he'll tell people. It gives him a chance to sit there and look at the game. Maybe you get their inside players a little bit tired at the beginning. After four or five minutes, you come in with a 7-footer. That's not a bad thing.

Is Bru OK? I've noticed his scoring and involvement in the offense has fallen off a bit in the last few weeks.

He's fine. He's been battling a little bit of the flu the last couple of days. We were all trying to avoid him, basically. No. He's the same. I had a chance to talk to him after the game. He was excited and genuinely happy and talked about defending Humphries. He's just getting in there and working. You need Greg Brunner on the floor for as many minutes as you can find for him. If it's on the road, you've almost got to make it ugly. Bru will pound you. He'll tackle you. He'll put his body on you and knock you to the floor. It's that toughness you have to have when you're in the Big Ten season.

The House of Horrors awaits on Saturday. Will the Hawks be able to keep it together on Saturday?

Yeah. It's an early basketball game. I don't know how that reads, whether it's good for the home team or good for the visiting team. Sometimes the early ones are good for the visitors. You've got your kids together in the hotel. You can meet with them the last thing on Friday night and get them up early on Saturday and keep them all together rather than having the kids around campus scattered around dorms or apartments. The early start certainly plays into the visiting team's favor.

Purdue, when you saw that game at Illinois last Saturday, held the ball for a good majority of each shot clock. They shortened the game down. That got Illinois a little bit antsy. They took some quick shots and didn't make it and played right into Purdue's hands. A low scoring game might be something that Iowa looks at.

The big players inside have to play big once again. Augustine is one of the better big men in the league. Dee Brown, you've got to stop the basketball and not allow him to penetrate at will. You've got to keep him on the perimeter. You've got to rebound and you can't have 20 turnovers at Assembly Hall. You have to have that in the low teens if not single digits. You've got to try to get to the line and make your free throws. Illinois will play you aggressively. They're going to foul you. But you have to play tough. You have to play through a lot of things down there. (Iowa) is due for a big game in Assembly Hall.


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