Alford Pleased with Team's Direction

Steve Alford has placed a serious emphasis on defense in Iowa's preseason work, and he felt that his team accomplished all of it's defensive objectives in their first exhibition game. Alford talks about that, the status of Adam Haluska, the team's depth, the energy of Doug Thomas, his thoughts on his freshmen as well as some commits on recent signee Tony Freemen in this transcript of his teleconference call from Friday morning.

NOTE: There will not be any TV for Sunday's exhibition game against Laval University of Canada, but Gary Dolphin and Bobby Hansen will call the action on Learfield Sports. The game is set for a 2:05 start.


Q: How is Adam Haluska progressing?

He is doing much better. Yesterday was a day off, so we did not practice. We will know more today, but I would assume that he will get some kind of run on Sunday.

Q: How concerned are you that he has not practiced in two weeks?

I am not real concerned, because he has shown improvement every day, and it was an injury that if we wanted to, we could have rushed him back. I think in rushing him back now, you gamble in something happening down the road. I think the best case was to give him two to two and a half weeks and let the muscle heal properly and get back strong before he came back. He has shown improvement each day, and I am anxious to see him.

When you lose a guy like Brody, both offensively and defensively, replacing that production will be Adam's challenge. He has more size, he shoots it deep and he has a chance to be a very good defender. All of the potential is there, now you just have to get in the games to see how it all falls out.

Q: Are you pleased with your decision making on offense thus far?

We have had one exhibition game, and I thought they did some good things. We have eight goals that we think about defensively and they met all eight of those. We have spent a lot of time on defense in the preseason, and right now that area is ahead of the offense. We had ten points ten minutes into the game, and we finished with 84. It was sluggish to start with, but I was impressed that we scored 74 points in a 30 minute time frame. The potential is there offensively, but we have to continue to work. But our staple, and the barometer of how much success we will have this year, will be our ability to defend. I was pleased with what happened with our first game on the defensive side.

Q: You were high on this recruiting class coming into this year. After nearly a month's worth of practice, what are you thoughts on your newcomers?

I have been very impressed. Seth has been hurt as of late, but prior to that he was playing very well. We felt coming in that he could be a possible redshirt candidate, but he pretty much dispelled all of that, because we felt we could use him right away.

JR has done a lot of good things. He is learning a new position; he had to play forward a lot in high school, so there you learn the game baseline out and now he is learning it timeline down. There is a difference there.

Carlton and Alex, I was very impressed in the blowout and in their first exhibition game. Carlton didn't hesitate on his first shot and I didn't think Alex played passively. They are learning at the rate they need to learn at, but they know they are playing behind some very good vets.

Q: Are all five of your guards (Horner, Henderson, Pierce, Haluska & Reed) interchangeable?

Pierce, Henderson and Horner are more comfortable playing the point than what Reed and Haluska might be at this point. All three of those guys are interchangeable in all three guard spots.

I think to start our season, those five guards are in the rotation. The minutes will vary and change, depending on match ups and who is playing well, but it gives me more versatility on how I play guys than what I had last year.

Q: With so many different options as far as personnel, do you think it might take this team some time to develop its offensive identity?

It might. I think that is why we spent so much time on our defense. The offense will come as people get more comfortable with it and understand their roles. That is why the offense might not be clicking right now, because we have spent that time on defense, and we are doing a lot of positive things there. We focused on getting better defensively, because that is something we can pick up quickly, and understand the emphasis on the effort and what we want to do from a help side perspective.

Q: Is Doug Thomas getting close to pushing Brunner and Hansen for a starting position?

Doug gives us a lot of versatility and energy off of the bench. Brunner and Hansen have earned their position to start, and I don't think that is an issue of who starts, it's about Doug getting his minutes. Bru got off to a slow start the other night, and Doug went in there right away, and he got his minutes. What it does is that it puts more emphasis on Erek and Bru, where unlike last year where we had to play them, if you don't perform this year, there are other people who can play the minutes. But Erek and Bru have earned starting spots and I don't see that in jeopardy yet.

Q: Talk about your new recruit Tony Freeman.

We had two scholarships, and we targeted a certain guard and a certain big, and we were fortunate enough that things worked out well. Tony was the guard we had targeted all along, and we have some history there with him, as his father and I played together at Indiana.

He is a fierce competitor that really fits our team well. He loves to win, he is tough, he can shoot it, and he can play a variety of guard positions. He does not have the height that maybe a Haluska has, but he can shoot it deep, he can take you off the dribble, he can run the point and he can get away with playing that third guard spot because of his toughness. He is definitely a one-two combo guy.

NOTE: Alford has not received the paperwork from Tyler Junior College forward Kurt Looby as of yet, therefore could not talk about him.

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