STEVE ALFORD Q&A
What is Jeff doing different right now?
You gain some confidence when you have a good shooting night like he had at Minnesota. But in the same token, he goes to Illinois and plays very poorly. He showed his toughness and how resilient he is by then bouncing back and having two very solid performances.
Is Horton still the guy that everything starts with?
Yeah. Horton is a very, very talented point guard. They've got big. Long, lanky guards. Their inside game is the same way. It all stems on just how Horton is doing. Our prep starts with him. It doesn't finish there because Robinson is extremely talented. It's a unique team. They've got five lefties. They're very athletic, and that's the concern. They match Illinois' athleticism and size. That can always give you problems. We've got to do a good job of taking care of the ball and then being really solid defensively.
Is Sean doing to much?
What he's trying to learn is the role that Jared has had which is having to play 25 plus minutes. Where that really affects you is defensively. You come in off of the bench and get two or three fouls, it's s different mindset than as a starter. The first half against Ohio State, he was really good. In the second half, he gambled a little bit defensively. He's still getting too many cheap fouls.
You said last week that you took your concerns about the (student section) chanting at Illinois to the Big Ten office. Have you gotten any response?
I saw (Associate Big Ten Commissioner) Rich Falk at the game (Saturday). He said that it's on the works, whatever they do on that. I just told him that we go through all of these preseason things. I want to see things get carried through. I'm not going to fight that every game. I didn't do anything at Champaign. I will at (the Michigan) game. It's a Big Ten rule. It's very unsportsmanlike. I've heard over some tapes some chants from student bodies that are not what student sections are made for. That's why this rule is in place.
What can they do if something happens?
There's game management behind each bench and at the scorers' table. I guess just letting them know and then whatever they've got set up in game management. We've got things in line (at Carver-Hawkeye) that have to take place if our student section gets out of control. I don't know if it's just warning after warning after warning or what it comes to. But as I told Rich, "I'm calling you the first time. The next time I have to make a bigger deal out of it."
What's that like for a player?
Your better players, and I put Pierre in that category, really do block that stuff out. Part of how you block it out is you feed upon it. Pierre feeds upon it. Your fringe players that would really bother. (Indiana's Tom) Coverdale was a guy that student sections really abused. Every time it happened, he'd put a dagger in your heart with a three from somewhere. It's nothing that you like happening. But Pierre handles it very well. He goes about doing his job and not letting it affect him.
What is the rule?
You can't single out a player on an opposing team and start chants on them. That's something as coaches we got passed through in the spring.
Have fans changed since you were a player?
Boy, I don't know. There are a lot of things that have changed. The accessibility has changed. Everybody has always had an opinion. The importance of that opinion has probably been with the Internet and everything else. You have a lot more of 24-7 radio talk shows. That has spurned an awful lot of student sections or whatever now talking about things and thinking that they're experts. As far as the environments, it's no different now than when I played. It's nothing against the Illinois fans. That's a great home court advantage. But it's a new rule.
Is it to early to start looking at how many wins it will take to get into the tournament?
Yeah. Our focus is just getting better each week. We've had enough thrown at us in the last three weeks. We know what our team looks like.
(Jeff Horner) said that you met with him one-on-one a few weeks ago, and you told him to cut it loose.
With everything that was going on, I said "Hey, I don't need you putting any more pressure on yourself. Just loosen up. I keep telling you you're a part of the offense, and we want you shooting the ball. Now, if you don't shoot it, we're not going to get 40 points a game. We've got to have you scoring." We've done some shooting. He's done a good job. When he's not shooting it well, his ball gets a little bit flat. I had a trajectory of shooting the basketball that was a little bit flat. We just worked on a little bit more elbow lift. He's the first guy in practice shooting and the last guy to leave. If anybody deserves to have some good shooting games, it's Jeff.
What do expect defensively from Michigan?
They play man-to-man and they play point zone. The point zone looks a little bit like a 1-3-1. They miz it up from zone to man. They've predominantly been man. They've predominantly been pressure. They switch into passing lanes. We've got to do a good job with our entries and the motion that we want to run. That will be a big key to whether we can handle the pressure they throw at us.
Will they use full court pressure?
They have. They really got after Penn State full court. But Penn State's really only got two guards on the roster, and they're bot freshmen. If you look at our team, it's not like we're real deep either. They could get into us.