Road Block

Iowa big man Erek Hansen alters opponents' driving patterns with his shot blocking ability. It also changes what his teammates can do on D: "I tell them that I have their backs if they lose their guy," Hansen said. "I tell them to just get into their guys, and I'm there to clean up anybody that gets through." Read more about what Hansen said regarding this year's team, his improved strength and lessons learned from past setbacks in this premium Q&A.

How has the summer gone for you?

Good. I just got back into town after working (Steve Alford's) basketball camp. I'm just trying to get back into a rhythm.

What were your impressions of the basketball camp?

It was a fun camp. It was a new experience for me. I never worked with little kids before. I had to get used to them.

What did you take out of that experience?

I need a lot more patience.

Did you feel a sense of responsibility with those guys looking up to you?

We try to act a lot more mature.

You look bigger. Have you put on weight?

I'm still at about 215, but I've gotten stronger even though I haven't really put on more weight. I don't care so much about the weight as long as I get stronger.

Has your improved strength shown up in the weight room?

Yeah. I've gone up on all of my lifts in the weight room.

How much?

I don't know about numbers, but I've gone up a lot, especially in squats; my legs. I know (basketball strength and conditioning coach Bill Maxwell) focused on that a whole lot. I can't remember what I started at, but I know I jumped up a lot.

How do you view your role on this team?

I'm going to be a lot more of a leader this year. I've got to take a lot more responsibility to come out and do what I have to do.

What is it that you have to do to help this team?

I need to assert myself a lot more offensively. I still need to improve my defense, but I need to score more. I need to rebound better.

What have you worked on offensively?

I'm trying to try more things in games. Working on moves in drills is one thing, but you don't really have somebody on you or people stepping over to help.

You guys have been through a lot of the off-court issues the last few years. Do you feel like this team is ready to put a lot of that junk behind it?

Yeah. It's already behind us. We're just ready to start playing again.

What are this team's capabilities?

Winning. A lot. I think we're going to be great.

Is anything less than an NCAA tournament a failure?

We've got to get into the tournament. We've got to go to the big dance.

What's it going to take?

I think we're fine as long as there are no injuries and we don't have letdowns like we did last year.

How is the chemistry on this team?

Great. We're all real good friends. We all play together all of the time. We just have to keep helping these freshmen.

How do you think the class looks?

I think they look good. I think they're going to help us a lot.

Is it going to be nice to have some depth this year?

Real nice. I won't have to worry about getting tired.

How are you doing academically?

Good. I'm doing a lot better. I haven't had any problems since my freshman year. That stuff is all behind me.

How have you grown in that area?

It made me a lot stronger. I can't blame anybody but myself. Everything I do falls on me.

How do you feel your defensive presence can change a game?

It makes (the opponents) think a lot more about driving the lane because they know I'm going to be there. Then, when I sit on the bench, I see them drive all of the time.

How much does it help your teammates to have you in the middle?

I think it helps them a lot. I tell them that I have their backs if they lose their guy. I tell them to just get into their guys, and I'm there to clean up anybody that gets through. If they get by, I'm there to help.

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