What is your assessment of Jeff and Pierre on the all-Big Ten third team?
I thought that was low. I thought Jeff had a chance to be first team, in my book, with what he's done as the leader of the basketball team. He had a couple of down games, but he had some big games also. I thought he would get it not with the media because sometimes the media is not the most informed but with the coaches. It seemed like in pre-game comments that Gary (Dolphin) would get from the opposing coach, they all would single out Jeff Horner as the type of player that they would want on their team and what a great year that he was having.
And then Pierre, I thought he had a chance to be a second-team player. The amount of turnovers early probably hurt him in that regard. But probably the most surprising was Greg Brunner not being mentioned. That's really surprising to me. I thought he could have been a third-team guy, at least. Brody Boyd also, there wasn't any mention of Brody. Those are probably the ones that I.... it's hard to pick teams when you start picking them like that without extraordinary statistics like say Humphries. Coach Frank Layden used to say, "You've got to win." And when teams win consistently, and I guess winning means being in the Top 1 or 2 slots, that's where you get the team members from.
The Jitim Young one was a little surprising to me. He had a nice career and a good year, but statistically I didn't see him being ahead of Jeff.
I agree with that one, too. And I'm not going to discount anybody on any of those teams because it's hard enough to make any of those teams. But I think there might be a little bit of a media, what would you call it, bias in Chicago. I don't know how many votes there are in Chicago; but for Carmody to be Coach of the Year. And it's been big news here in Chicago today. All of the newspapers had big stories on Jitim Young and Bill Carmody.
I think Iowa, as a state, only gets two ballots. That's a severe disadvantage compared to places like Chicago, Indy and Detroit.
It's almost like they should have a players' ballot; something where you couldn't vote for your team. That's how balloting goes sometimes. It's a popularity contest. And it's probably not worth any more than the time we talked about it just now. That's about it. As they say, greatness speaks for itself and good play speaks for itself. Iowa players have stood up, and people have taken notice.
What are the chances that Iowa can make another run and win the Big Ten Tournament championship?
I think the chances are good. You've got to shoot the ball well. Iowa is going to be familiar with the surroundings there at Conseco (Fieldhouse) having played well against Louisville (earlier this season). They seem to play well here in the state. And Michigan is a team that they can match up with in that they've got to defend the perimeter. You've got get by that first one, Robbie. And I don't think that they need to look at what is it going to take and have a let down. You play as hard and as well as you possibly can. You try to be sharp. Defensively, you play better than you ever played all year long. And you go in there with the mindset that you're going to win it; not that you have to win it, but that you're going to win it. You're not going to be denied. I think great things will happen.
There was a sharp contrast in the two games that we played against Michigan this season in terms of tempo. Do you take the same approach Friday as you did in slowing the tempo, which seemed to work in Iowa City?
Yeah. You stop their transition; stop the easy baskets. You can't just let them get out. I've always thought that Michigan played very well when they get out ahead of you. You can't let them get out and get a 10-, 12-point lead. They start to get a lot of confidence. You've got to rebound with them, You can't turn the ball over and allow them to score easy baskets in transition.
The first game, Courtney Sims took it to Glen early in the post. You've got to try to neutralize their inside play. Brunner and Glen are both playing better. And then, guard the perimeter. And you've got to make your shots. You've got to shoot at 45 percent or better, I believe, on a consistent basis if you're going to win basketball games. How you do that is by getting easy baskets. Get your fast break going, and that means controlling the defensive boards and then not turning the ball over. Now you get into the open court and get to the foul line.
Does a win get the Hawks into the NCAA Tournament? Do they have to win two? What's it going to take?
As the fourth-place finisher in the Big Ten, they should have some sort of weighted scale that that should get you X amount of points on my RPI. I don't know how the RPI is figured, but on my scale for finishing in a tough conference...it might be a down year, but it's still tough to go out road and win basketball games. They've done that. That should weight somewhere in there. And they've won four of their last six going down the stretch. Then, they have a good performance in the Big Ten Tourney. Whether that's win one or win two or win them all, I don't know. I don't know what's inside the minds of the committee members. I'd be real surprised if the Big Ten didn't get four teams. And Iowa, Michigan and Purdue are probably the ones on that Big Ten bubble.
You can kind of get away with some things during the regular season with a short bench. How can the Hawks keep it rolling with a three-games-in-three-days scenario?
Well, obviously, you can't get into foul trouble. You can't have a minor injury. You've got to use your timeouts wisely, and Steve's done a real good job of that this year. You've got to get your rest. Kids have got to understand that they've got to get their rest and eat right. And then, you've got to get contributions from everybody. Nobody can have an off night. That means that everybody on that bench has got to be ready to move in. From Ben Rand to Erek Hansen to Kurt Spurgeon to Jack (Brownlee), they've got to be in there. They've got to have their heads into the game. If coach calls their number, they've got to produce something. It doesn't have to be baskets in every case. But it's got to be a big defensive board or an offensive rebound or a loose ball or pick up a charge. Everybody has got to contribute. They've done that all year. They've played as a team when they got this nine-man team going.
You can't have an off night shooting. Your stars have got to perform. They're big games, which means that your big-time players have got to carry you.