Is it rare that a player or players would consider leaving a team or a school at some point in his career?
Everybody in college thinks at some point that the grass is greener on the other side. I did. It's like, you think about it for one night. Then, you wake up and you're like, "How stupid was that?"
I remember when Stan Sheriff, the old AD at UNI, left for Hawaii. There were players calling him and telling him that they wanted to transfer down there. He called back and said, "Don't call me again. You're at the right place. You're not coming down here."
When we talk about guys leaving or transferring out or wanting to move on, I think every athlete out there has had some thought. They'd probably be lying to you if they said they didn't. You get with your friends and you say, "Ah, I'm tired of this." It's going to be easy to run away and go to another school. I can remember thinking back through injury and not playing well that, ah, maybe it would better if you went somewhere else. Then, you wake up in the morning and say "How stupid is that? This is the best place you could possibly be here at the University of Iowa, playing in the Big Ten, playing for, in my case, Coach Lute Olsen and the teammates that you build along the way. To run away would be like quitting. Nobody wants to be considered a quitter." So, the thoughts quickly diminish out of your mind. But I think every young kid has probably had those thoughts creep into there and the lay there at night trying to figure it out.
Did Saturday's thriller at Indiana remind you of any game that you played in?
Yeah. Greg Lansing and I were talking at the hotel with Rich Walker about playing over here (at Indiana). I told them that I remember one in particular. It was a special place to play just because of what it is. As a kid growing up, you remembered the 1976 team that went undefeated with Quinn Buckner and Kent Benson.
It was Isiah Thomas' sophomore year. We went over there and defeated them. We were running Lute Olsen's four-corners delay game at the end. I got fouled. It was a close game. I remember stepping up to the free throw line and looking up there and the whole thing is moving. You go through everything. I told Greg and Rich that I was scared to death as a sophomore up there. You don't show any of it. You just try to breath deep and get it all together.
I told them that I was thinking of my girlfriend at that time, which now is my wife, Mary. We just started dating. She was back in Iowa. I remember shooting them up there and thinking that she's watching the game with her mom and dad. It was kind of like, "This one's for you." Luckily, you close your eyes and shoot it and you look up and it goes through. Then, you get confidence.
But double-overtime on the road, I can't remember. I remember double or triple overtime against Minnesota my junior year, which we did not win. Those are great games.
I'm so happy that they won because the kids finally got a break. The staff finally got a break. It just goes to show that you need to continue to work. Work hard. Do your job. Show up to practice. Do it the right way. And good things are going to happen. That's what was so critical about that victory. It just re-enforced all that they had been doing. They stayed positive at the end of regulation and at the end of the first overtime. I didn't see anybody bitching at anybody or bemoaning the fact that they didn't get the guy blocked out. It was just all positive. We were pretty close to the huddles. You could see the kids getting down at times, but Steve and his staff kept them up. They went back out there and went to work and got it done.
I told somebody earlier that as great as it was, it's only the start. Hopefully this will be the start to a great finish to the season and the upper division of the Big Ten and a run to the NCAA Tournament. And then, it will pay dividends next year and the year after. Hopefully, recruits were watching that game.
What are the positives and what are the pitfalls in coming off a game like that?
The No. 1 pitfall would be that you've got to get your rest. The kids will do that. You're only playing five or six guys. They're going to play a lot of minutes.
They've got to forget about that game and look to the next one. They have to get off of their feet as much as they possibly can. You put that one in the rearview mirror as I'm sure they did. I reminded Jeff to make sure he calls his parents and enjoy it with them and his close friends. Then, get back in that gym and concentrate on Wisconsin. It's the biggest game of the year coming up. One of the pitfalls is that you think about (the Indiana) game too much. You get a lot of slaps on the backs and high fives in class.
I think these people are smart enough and realize that it's a good one, but it's only one. It's a start. And it's the next one.
I think people are worried that because Wisconsin lost badly at Northwestern on Saturday, that the Badgers will come in mad and take it out on the Hawkeyes. Do you buy into stuff like that?
Well, I guess you can spin that around and say that we're coming off a great victory. Our confidence has never been higher. I guess my thing would be - Bring it on. It's going to be a great basketball game. It's two teams that are in a must-win situation for different reasons. That's what sets the stage for what I would consider a great Big Ten battle.
You've got some interesting match ups with Devin Harris going against Pierre Pierce. You've got one of the top players in the Big Ten against the top defender in the Big Ten. You've got the inside play of Mike Wilkinson against Greg Brunner and Glen Worley. How are they going to stop him? I like the match ups because those guys have the ability to go out and guard Wilkinson on the floor where maybe a bigger guy could not do that.
Yeah, so what if they're mad? Sometimes that works against you. Coming off of a loss, there's a certain amount of doubt that creeps into your game also. I don't think it matters. I think it boils down to it being a brand new game. It's a new day. Let the best team win.
Wisconsin is a very precise, fundamentally sound team. How do you get the Badgers off of their game?
Well, you can't turn the ball over a crazy amount of times. You can't give them the extra possessions. If you can get ahead of them, somehow, I don't think that they're a great comeback team as you saw against Northwestern. So, you've got to get off to a good start and get our crowd into the game and get them behind you right away. Then, play fundamentally sound basketball. Beat them at their own game.
We have to establish our inside presence with Brunner and Worley, again. Get those guys and free up our shooters. I suppose you can try to up tempo it a little bit and run on opportunity. But with the limited amount of players that we have, it's not like you can go out and full court press, run all over the place and wear your guys out early. You have to be solid. You have to play, not a perfect game, but you just have to be real sound. That means not turning it over. That means rebounding. That means getting the offensive rebounds when they come your way. You have to go after loose balls. You've got to match the intensity that they're going to bring to you or exceed it. You've got to be the one diving on the floor and getting all of the loose stuff. Hopefully, that will carry over into a good shooting night.
Shoot ahead to Saturday for me Bobby. You saw Michigan recently. How can Iowa turn its fortune around against the Wolverines this time?
Early, they attacked us with Courtney Sims. Glen Worley got caught behind him. He did a better job after the first timeout. They had him fighting around the top. So, you've got to cut off their inside game.
They're shooters. Abram was able to shoot over the top of us at times. I thought that Pierre did a good job against Bernard Robinson. In that game, it seemed like their 3-point shooting was phenomenal. So, inside is not a huge concern. You can let our big guys battle them inside, but cover up their shooters the best that you possibly can. Maybe not even leave Mr. Abram, just kind of shadow him around. When you're in your zone, you've got to be active. You've got to extend it, as we've been doing.
It's likely to be a big night for Glen Worley on Wednesday as he needs just three points to join you in the Iowa 1,000-point club. What does that say about him? He's a kid that certainly has had his share of criticism in his career.
Yeah. I mean, coming out of high school he was the best player in the state of Iowa. He chose to come to Iowa, right in his backyard. A lot of times, that's difficult. Glen has done a really good job of it. The fact that he's going to join a fairly elite club is pretty darn impressive. There are so many things that can happen in a career from injury to illness to not playing well. He battled through it and now he should take pride in joining that elite group.
I can remember a friend of mine that was one of my tutors at Iowa brought it to my attention early in the Big Ten year that I was close to 1,000 points. I didn't give it any thought to be honest with you. It just was never really any big deal. But he tracked it, and as we got closer, your play stepped up, to be honest with you Rob. I was probably more focused on trying to get to the basket and making sure I made all of my free throws. You were more efficient offensively.
What I'm going to tell Glen is that when I graduated out of there, I was tied with Kevin Kunnert with 1,145 points. By averaging 14 or 15 points over the next 10 games, Glen can surpass my total. It might be something for him to shoot at. It would certainly help this team if he could play within himself and yet be an aggressive scorer for the Hawkeyes. I certainly think extra scoring will help Iowa.
Can you relate to the pressure Glen has had being a home state hero? Do you remember there being pressure on you?
Pressure? I think all college athletes put a little pressure on themselves that you only want to do well. We didn't have the message boards and as much talk radio and as much media scrutiny as they have now. I'm not sure how I would have handled all of that; maybe not well, to be honest with you. But I can remember people doubting me during my freshman year. In particular, I had one news reporter at the Daily Iowan, Sherry Roan, who was on my side. She was an older sister of a friend of mine from Des Moines. She was a senior and the editor at the Daily Iowan along with Melissa Isaacson (Now at the Chicago Tribune). It was nice knowing that somebody was on your side.
She wrote an article that basically said, "I'm hearing a lot of this about a freshman, and it's not fair. I like the way that he plays. He'll help the Hawkeyes in the future." Once you read that as a player, as a person, it makes you feel better.