Tourney Time

How many wins does the Iowa men's basketball team need to get into the NCAA Tournament? As the Hawkeyes prepare for the Big Ten Tournament later this week in Indy, they aren't worried about it: "Our guys are confident saying it's not about how many you've got to win, but to win a title you have to win three," Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford said during his Monday press conference. "We're not going to play the game of how many games you have to win to maybe excite the NCAA committee."

How's Jeff?

Good. I talked to him (Sunday), and he seems to be fine. After watching tape, he got hit pretty hard; all accidental. It was a loose rebound. Buscher's hand came from way up to way down, and that's a pretty strong kid that hit him pretty flush. So, it was amazing that he was able to function the last minute of that game, let alone make two big free throws. But, he's fine now.

Where did he get hit?

Kind of right on the side nose, temple area.

This business with Horner in the last minute of the game, how clear of mind was he when he made those two free throws?

Jeff is too tough. It doesn't matter if he got knocked out or not. You can just stand him at the line, he's probably going to do everything that he can to put those two free throws in. He's that tough. That's what's kind of been instilled into our team is the toughness that he has; the toughness that Pierre has.

Did you happen to notice that he was fuzzy headed?

No. The only thing that I noticed was that in the transition, he was the last one down. That never happens. So, I knew he that he'd gotten knocked down. I just yelled at him, "Are you alright?" I could see some blood in his nose. We only had about 35-40 seconds left in the game. He never asked to be taken out. If you could see me on tape, you'd see me doing this (pushes hands from chest away from body) because he's not coming out. He was going to have to be...now that I look at tape, he got hit so hard that I should have been a little bit more sensative to the hit than I was at that time. But I wasn't about to take him out. And I knew that if the trainers came to the floor, we'd have to take him out. I just remember jeff telling the doc and John, "Just give me that gauze." And you can see him on tape just taking the gauze and just stuffing it in his nose. He said, "It's not going to stop bleeding, so let's just stuff it. We've got 45 seconds." Fortunately, he was able to do some good things when we kept him out there because we definitely didn't want to take him off of the floor.

Is that the kind of injury you worry about almost a hangover kind of feeling that could bother him through the week?

No. I couldn't tell you what a hangover feels like (Laughter). You're asking the wrong guy. Jeff was like a lot of our guys, sore and banged up after the Purdue game. But by the time that I talked to him (Sunday), he was fine.

Was it technically a concusion?

I have not heard it been termed that.

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What do you take from the last two games against Michigan?

Well, they're a little bit different in that at Michigan it was extremely high scoring. Back here, it was a much lower scoring game. We hold them to the low 60s. The ability to take away their transition versus the lack of doing that in Ann Arbor (was key). We turned the ball over at an incredibly high rate in Ann Arbor, and we didn't get back defensively. It was the combination of two big mistakes that led to a lot of points for them. In our building, the rebounding was closer. We didn't turn the ball over as much. We took better shots. We controlled tempo. And they weren't able to get out in transition where they're so effective. Those are the glaring differences in the two games.

What have you seen that tells you Michigan has improved this season?

They've got a lot of young talent. They're just getting more experience under their belt. They've got some pretty talented sophomores as well. Their sophomore and freshman class his pretty talented. The more games they get under their belt, they're going to get better. It's a new season, so everybody gets excited. Everybody knows the importance of a 4-5 game and advancing; but just the ramifications of keeping some NCAA hopes alive. That 4-5 game is going to be as intense as any game in those first two days. We're excited to be a part of it. I think they're feeling good about how they're playing. And we're definitely feeling good about what our kids are doing.

Do you show Michigan anything different this time around or do you go after them the same way that you did here?

That's what we'll work on this week just through breaking down tape. Those are things that we'll look at just as they're looking at things that they did to hurt us. We'll have a better feel of that by midweek.

Does one win get you guys into the (NCAA) Tournament?

I don't think so. With an RPI of 80 and your league getting just pounded nationally publicly of being down, that gets to be very difficult. What our league did is we struggled in the non-conference. Because of that, now we're paying for it, which is unfortunate because our league is better than what's advertised. It's just there's so much parity. We beat up on each other during the year. Now, you're looking at a situation to where...we're looking at it no so much as a situation as how many that we've got to win. It's very similar to three years ago. We're going there with an attitude that there's a lot of parity in this league. We have had to battle our share of adversity. We were able to get to first place all by ourselves, which took a lot of work. Our guys are confident going in there saying it's not about how many you've got to win, but to win a title you have to win three. We're not going to play the games of how many game you have to win to maybe excite the NCAA committee.

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Where does Adam Haluska fit in next year?

Very nicely. He gives us a big guard. We've got several big guards. Ben Rand at 6-6 is somebody that hasn't played a lot, but he's gotten incredible experience in practice. We played him at Purdue. We got in foul trouble, but he's really getting better. He's getting better in practice. He's battling people. If he learns to just settle down and relax...he's much more athletic than what I thought. And he can shoot it. But Adam brings somebody that was on the all-freshman team in the Big 12. That's a pretty good league to be all-freshmen in. He brings a guy that can really shoot the ball; very similar to Brody, just about six inches taller. It gives us a little bit bigger presence in the backcourt. You look at next year and the possibility of putting Pierre, Jeff and Adam out there at the same time. You're big. You're strong. You're athletic. You're fast. You can shoot it. You can slash. Then you've still got some guys coming off of the bench, whether it's Ben or Mike or Carlton or J.R. You're pretty deep at that position. Obviously, we're excited about that.

Do you have a Jared Reiner update?

No. I have not seen him today. I know he's working out better and harder and seems to be doing better. But I don't have an update as of yet.

No news on the paper work?

No.

What accounts for going from a span of 18 or 19 turnovers a game to what you guys are doing now?

That's a great question. We didn't change style. We just keep emphasizing things and then it's really up to the players to put an importance on it. They saw enough tape and we talked anough about it that. Pierre cutting down in his turnovers has been a big plus for us. And then Glen and Bru, two guys that were turning it over at a high rate, have done a nice job, other than Bru in this last game.


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