You Can Go Home Again

Iowa Coach Steve Alford conducted his weekly teleconference on Friday morning. The Indiana University alum talked about Saturday's game against the Hoosiers, he updated the Sean Sonderleiter situation, discussed the student section and addressed his critics.

In talking to the student, they've said that they'd like to see the student section wrap around the court like we saw at Michigan State and at Michiga. Is there anything that you think could be done to improve the student section and get more students to the games? And how would you like to see the student section evolve during your career here?

When I got here, I was instrumentalin trying to get the students a section to begin with. So, if they're wanting a different kind of section or a different seat in the arena, that will have to take place of seeing administration because I don't have anything to do with that. ---

Looking back in the DeWitz and the Henderson academic difficulties, what would you say to critics that argue that it's the coach's job to make sure these kids get their grades?

I don't pay a whole lot attention to critics. That's part of the business. There are Monday Morning Quarterbacks all of the place. I guess if I had my chance, I'd probably do a Brett Favre commercial (laughter). ---

Have you had a further contact with Sean Sonderleiter?

No, I haven't.

Is the door closed? Is he done then, officially?

I don't know if it's closed. Pretty much everything is in the hands of Sean. And I know that Fred Mims has really been on top of that. But really it's about all of the issues that Sean has of whether he things he can come back or not. But obviously as each day goes by, it gets a little bit more difficult to come back to the team.

Have any of the guys on the team heard from Sean, and are they still concerned about him?

We're all concerned about him. I'm sure that the guys are around him. He's a roommate. So, he's somebody that the guys are in contact with in classes and off of the floor things. They're doing exactly what the staff is doing, just trying to show as much support as we can and letting him work through the things that he's got to work out.

There was something in the Register today about Sean's scholarship. Assuming that he doesn't come back, do you have input into whether his scholarship is extended for another semester to enable him to finish school?

If it gets to that point at the end of the semester, I'll sit down with the appropriate administration and go over things. We just want to be incredibly sensative and supportive to Sean. I wish we had more answers. I think it's doubtful that he'll be back with everything going on in his life, but they are personal and they are family matters that both the staff and Seab and his family want private. We're going to honor that. We're just going to assist and help as much as we possibly can. The scholarship situation will probably come under review after the spring semester has concluded.

Who participates in those sorts of things?

I would think it would be Bob (Bowlsby), Fred and myself would be the start. If there's others that are involved with that, I wouldn't know at this time. ---

Some of the players after the Michigan State game said that this (Indiana) game is a must win. Do you view it the same way?

At minimum, you can turn a road trip into a pretty good positive if you can get a split. We knows it's difficult. This is a very difficult place to win. We've got our hands full. But it's a game that all of our guys understand the importance of.

For Indiana on offense, is it Bracey Wright that really makes things go for them?

It starts with Bracey. You've got two outstanding guards in Wright and Strickland that can really hurt you in a lot of ways. The key in their resurgence as been Moye. Moye is knocking down jump shots. He defends very aggressively. He's an emotional leader.

Who do you put on Wright?

We'll rotate probably a lot of people on him. But anytime we go into a game, the top performer at the guard position, is assigned to Pierre.

Has the novelty of the Indiana game worn off a bit. Is the emotion still there for you?

It's always great going back. That's where I played. It's a very special building. I spent an awful lot of time there, not just in college but in going to camps there since third grade. The novelty of Indiana hasn't worn off. Things have just changed with Coach Knight not being there. The other things are still extremely special. Those things never go away.

What has George Leach done for them since he's come back?

I mentioned Moye, and (Leach) would be the next guy (that has helped turn things arround). he's given them a presence inside that they were lacking when he was out. He helps them defensively because he is a good shot blocker. He runs the floor. He finishes things inside.

You've beaten Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament and in Iowa City. You have not beaten them in Bloomington. Is it a little disappointing or frustrating that you're not going back this time with a full team?

That's been hard. And it hasn't just been Indiana. It's always frustrating when you don't have the hand that you were dealt. I was telling the team that in the locker room yesterday in preparation for this game. Whether it's life, whether it's athletics, things can be going very smoothly and you like the hand that you've been dealt. Then, all of a sudden, that hand changes.

The analogy that I gave the team was that my daughter is at home with the chicken pox. I'm with her yesterday, and we played a game called Barbie UNO. I don't know if any of you all have ever played Barbie UNO. It's a great card game. I played UNO growing up. So, I know all about UNO. I got down to two cards, and I thought that I had a great hand. I was right on the verge of beating her. So, I start to talk a little bit of junk because my daughter likes to talk junk back to me. She's got about 15 cards in her hand, and all of sudden she plays this card that says, "Trade hands." I've never seen that in UNO. But in Barbie UNO, that's a legit card. Now, I get 15 cards, and she proceeds to beat me.

I was telling the team that I got a very good lesson from a 6-year-old. You think things are going good. You like the hand that you've got. Then, all of a sudden, somebody plays the "Trade hands" card on you, and you've got to trade your hand. You might not like it. It's not to much that we don't like our hand, but it's what's happened to our hand that we don't like. You've still got to make the most of it. That's really what we've been talking to our team about.

People over the years have described you as a fierce competitor. Does that include Barbie UNO?

Without question. That's why we had to play another one, and I got her in the second one. We're 1-1, and we've got to get that rubber match in sooner or later.

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