Coach Alford Talkin' Hoops

Iowa Men's Basketball Coach Steve Alford held the first of his weekly press conferences Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Among the topics of discussion: The improvement of Erek Hansen, the health of Adam Haluska and Seth Gorney, thoughts on redshirting and much more in this HN.com premium Q&A.

Opening Statement:

Well, I'm not in to promises, and I can't speak for Coach Martin, but I would almost venture to say the average team score will not be 27 (points when Iowa plays Upper Iowa in a exhibition on Wednesday), which is the average in the four previous meeting between the Hawks and the Peacocks back in the early 1900s. I don't want to get into promises, but the combined score will probably be more than 27.

Q&A

Do you have an injury update?

Both of them (Haluska and Gorney) are doubtful for Wednesday. I've not seen either one of them this morning.

Seth, that's a pretty good ankle sprain. That's going to take some time. Adam is getting awfully close. I want to make sure it's absolutely 100 percent before he gets back. We're not in any big hurry. He's in great shape, and he's been watching tape and doing the things that he needs to do to stay ahead of the game. We might be looking with him more towards Sunday than Wednesday.

Is it his hip or his stomach?

It's a little bit of a combination of both. It's like a hip flexor/abdomen strain that's just giving him a lot of problems. He's showing progression every day.

How did he do it?

It was a baseline drive in practice. I think it had been bothering him. He just, in a move that he made, strained it pretty good.

How long has it been since he practiced?

About a week.

You have to decide if you're going to redshirt for the season this week. Have you made any decisions in that regard?

No. If we had to start today, we probably wouldn't be redshirting. All that can change here in the next couple of days. Right now, I don't see that happening, but it could change.

What prompted you to make Craig Neal an associate head coach?

It's a title thing. When you're coming from the NBA, I don't want him to have those doors closed. Having the title of associate head coach, at least from the NBA looking at it, is maybe a more pretigious title. If that's something that can help him down down the road, than it makes no difference to me what the title is.

Will he have more responsibility than your others assistants have or have had?

If you look at the last three years, I'm giving him an awful lot to digest and an awful lot of input. He and I are very good friends. I respect him a great, great deal what he has to say on both sides of the ball.

He and I have really been trying to crunch out the practices and getting the team ready each and every day. Not that Greg or Brian's role has changed any. I just think with what I'm asking Craig to do it's very similar to what a head coach would be asked to do.

Alex Thompson didn't shoot a lot on Saturday, but he did a lot of the little things. Are you happy with the way he's progressing?

Alex has really done a nice job. I want him to get more aggressive. I talked to him about that. That will come. But I really like his knowledge of the game; the way he goes about playing the game. He's got a very good touch. He's such a versatile big man, and he's picking up things quickly. I real like where Alex has come. As he gets more familiar with what we're doing offensively, he's going to get a lot more touches..\

How about Mike Henderson?

He was really good in the first half of the blowout. His performance slipped a little in the second half, but so did everybody else. He's been battling Jeff. And I've said it before, if you can battle Jef, you can battle anybody. He done a very good job all fall of doing that.

What areas does this team most need to get better?

Probably our pace. I didn't like our pace in the blowout. I told the guys that we looked a little tired in the second half. It's a mental thing because they're in very good shape. But the pace at both ends, how we didcate what they do offensively.

We're going into (Wednesday) with no prep. We're really putting all of this on the players. There's no scouting report. I want to see how these guys handle things that arae thrown at them, whether it's ball screens; it's zone offense; zone defense; presses; whatever.

Are you satisfied with your man to man defense?

Not satisfied. We did some good things, but that's the area we've got the furthest to go. I was not pleased. The two areas that concern me the most were transition defense and post defense. Those were to two most glaring weaknesses on tape. We'll spend a lot of time the next two days.

Does this team have a chance to surprise some people?

This team, this is what they've been building for. It's nothing the fans or nothing as coaches. We don't sit around in the locker room.saying we hope we have a winning season and we make the NIT. We've got high goals.

In saying that, they've done a phenominal job the last two years of getting better in Big Ten play; just making postseason play. That took a lot of work on their end. Now. they're deeper. They're more mature. They've been around the block. They're primed for it.

Can you talk about Erek's growth offensively?

Erek was the most impressive of our bigs, by far. Doug did a not of good things, especially offensively. He's got a long way to go defensively.The thing that impressed me the most about Erek is that he got 17, 18 rebounds. That's been a concern. Can somebody help Bru on the backboards?

Now, we get Erek and Doug rebounding and Bru decides to take a day off. We've got to get Bru understanding what he's got to do.

What do expect from him this year, 12 points and six rebounds?

I never like putting numbers on somebody. Last year, he gave us 2 and 2 with about 3 or 4 blocks a game. If he can get closer to an 8, 9, 10 point scorer and get his rebounds up to 7, 8, 9 rebounds a game and get his blocks up to 5 plus a game, now he's really shown a lot of improvement.

Is Adam Haluska your most athletic player?

He's one of them. Doug and Pierre and Erek are in the same mold as Adam. You put them all on the end line and tell them to sprint down and back, it's going to be a race. That could change daily. If it's just down, Erek will get down there as fast as anybody.

But Adam can do it with the ball, shooting the ball. He does it a little bit more fluid.

Could you imagine a situation where a guy, like Adam, transfers from one instate school to another, like from Indiana to Purdue?

Nah. That's unusual. But I think Adam's situation was very unusual. Coach Eustachy and everything that was going on at that time, it was just a very unusual set of circumstances.

To be honest, I think Adam has been a Hawk. Jeff committing early and jeff and Adam being very competitive as freshmen, (Adam) got a little antsy. But I think this is where he wanted to be all along. I say that just because I think it's a great fit. From Day 1, he has been a great fit to our Hawkeye family. We're real excited about what the next three years hold with him.

Was he on your radar screen?

Oh yeah. Without question. We were able to call Coach Horner because he was a coach. Through talking to Coach Horner, you learn a great deal about one of his players if that player happens to be his son. When they're freshmen, you can't talk to the player yet.

With Adam's situation, we had just taken the job here. People were talking about him, but we hadn't been able to see him. We could talk to the coach, but the coach wasn't the father.

Iowa State because they had been recruting Jeff, lost Jeff, and really turned up the recruiting heat on Adam. Adam, at that time, thought that was the best case scenario. He committed so quickly that it didn't give us a chance to see him in that sophomore season to make a good evaluation and proceed from there.


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