Coach Alford Press Conference

The Iowa Bench Boss met with the media at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday. The Coach discussed the health of Haluska and Gorney, home attendance, shuffling the starting lineup, Friday's opener against Western Illinois and more. We're making this Q&A free so visitors can see the type of content we offer our subscribers throughout the hoops season.


You sort of insinuated the other night that you might tinker with your starting lineup. Do you see that happening?

We're still playing with that. Obviously that X-factor is Adam and his health. He's had two weeks of missing an awful lot of practice through injury.

But he practiced extremely well (Tuesday). He's probably as close to 100 percent as he can be. I would assume by Friday all of that is going to be a go.

So, it really will depend on which way we go there, whether it ends up being Mikey or Adam like it was two weeks ago. That's probably the only change that would be made at this time. And whether that happens or not, we're still unsure.

Have you seen competition between Adam and Mike for the starting position?

No. And I don't think that it's really been about that. I've talked to both of them.

Mike has played very well in the exhibition games. The outside gets more wrapped up in who starts. They make a big deal out of it. It's never been important to me

I was talking to Coach Knight before I came in there. They play Friday. He goes, I don't even know who I'm starting yet.

From a coaching standpoint, it's really about who you're going to play, how you're going to play, how you're going to guard. I told Mike that matchups determine that.

For instance, we're playing a Western Illinois team that doesn't start anybody over 6-8. You could easily say well maybe Doug should start instead of Erek. So, I could easily see Doug and Erek playing different roles. The starting lineups on the other team dictate that.

Mike and Adam will be the same way. We went into the year assuming that was going to be Adam's spot. Do you lose that by injury? That's a hard thing. It could be interchangable all year. It could get set in all year to where we get in a nice routine. We've got to play some games to really get a good feel.

Could you talk more about the defensive selfishness that concerned you on Sunday?

I thought (the defense) was so good in our first exhibition game. And we've seen good strides all through the practice season.

The first exhibition game, everybody is all excited because they get to play somebody besides Black and Gold. That second exhibition game and it's like, we're ready to play the season.

The tape wasn't awful. But there were enough breakdowns that there were concerns.

Now we're playing a team (Western Illinois) that's going to be undersized. You're going to have an awful lot of guard/forward, swing type players on the floor. They're going to look to dribble drive you. They're going to look to attack the basket. And we've got to do a very good job with our dribble drive defense, which part of that is helpside defense.

How much do you know about Western Illinois?

I know Coach (Derek) Thomas. We go way back with his ties to Spoony and then obviously having stints at Illinois and Minnesota and being at UNLV again with Spoony.

Now, he's got some recruits in where last year he didn't have a lot to do with that team as far as putting it together. The Baez kid is terrific. He's been at Southeastern Community College. He's a very hard matchup.

The Gray kid coming off of the bench is a scary point guard. He doesn't have a lot of size, but he's extremely fast and quick. They get a lot of scoring off of their bench. The start of the game is important but also that first and second flow of substitutions is going to be important.

What kind of pressure to you expect to see from Western?

They've shown multiple presses - back zone, back man. They mix their defenses a lot. They bring in a lot of athleticism off of their bench. They've shown 2-3 zone. We could see a lot of different things, and we've prepared for that.

Are you surprised at the confidence that Carlton Reed has brought?

He's got a lot of savvy and poise for a young player. And it just hasn't been the two exhibition games. He's practiced that way. He's had probably two or three poor practices sinec we started.

So if he can give us that kind of consistency off of the bench, he can really be a good mainstay for us coming off the bench. People are going to know Horner. They're going to know Pierce. They're going to know about Mikey.

But if that fifth guard can come in and continue to make shots...and before it's all said and done, Carlton is going to be a very good defender. He's getting better every day in practice competing against Pierre every day. That could really be a good shot in the arm for us.

He's one of those guys blessed with those quick-twitch muscles. He can get to the ball as fast as anybody. Sometimes he gets too fast. But as he learns how to play the tempo at this level, he's going to be very special.

Is there something you guys as coaches have looked at to maybe help your team start games faster?

We've only had two. But it's something that we keep looking at. It's something where we wonder do we need to make a change this early in the season or is it just a case in point where we're playing Upper Iowa and Laval?

That being said, those are lessons that our guys have to learn. We've talked about taking care of home.This could be a very good year and get off to a good start if we justtake care of business at home and then steal the games that we need to steal on the road or in neutral settings.

If we get off to the starts that we did in the last two games against some of the opponents that are going to be in here, we won't be able to recover from it. It's a concern. Whether that means that we have to change lineups yet, I don't know.

Are you concerned about your players looking ahead to Maui?

I don't think so. I'm upset that they were looking ahead to their first game other than playing that second exhibition game. And that's lessons that we've talked about.

As we learned last year, the RPI is very important and that's built up a lot this time of year. Yet, you have quite a few inexperienced guys that you're trying to bring along. How do you prioritize?

Well, I have a competitive group. They want to win. They practice that way. They compete that way. We definitely want to do that.

What I've got to do in this seven-game stretch is be patient enough. We'd like to win all seven of them, but we could lose some games and play well. I hope that doesn't happen. I hope we can win them all.

But we've got to continue to get better. We've got two big time tournaments in that stretch. We have five games that are going to be played in five days in that stretch. So, it's really going to test us from character standpoint.

Louisville is going to already be out there. Does that concern you?

No. They're doing it a little bit differently. They're chartering a plane and going over (Thursday). They're going to play a game on a different island.

They'll have a game under their belt. We'll have a game under our belt. They're talented. They're extremely talented. But we know what to expect. The good thing is we're playing a Western Illinois team will press us some, will pressure. We know we're going to see that out of Louisville.

So, Louisville is chartering a flight while you guys have to bus to Des Moines and have two changeovers each way. How did that happen?

(Laughs) I don't know. Louisville is the only one, I think, chartering. They got 200 fans to fly with them or something like that. A couple of teams tried that. It didn't work.

We could have flown out of Cedar Rapids, but we would have had to split our group up. I don't like splitting our group up. I want to keep the whole team together.

You always try to look at the positive. There's no long flight. The longest flight is LA to Maui. They get off. They get a chance to hydrate, walk around versus having a really long flight.

Adam struggled in the last game. You don't have any concerns with that?

No. His struggle was just shooting. That's timing. He thinks he struggled. I told him that I didn't think you struggled at all. I think you competed.

We just wanted to get him in. I knew that he would be tentative. He was tentative defensively. He was tenative with his cutting and how he got into his shot.

(Tuesday's) practice, it was almost like he was a kamikaze because he played in that game and didn't feel anything. He needed to see that.

What will Seth's role be?

We have to see how healthy he gets. He's been practicing very well. He's really recovered. That really was a bad sprain. It could have been a lot longer. But he's ready to go. He could have played more against Laval.

I wish he could have played more but they didn't really have a legit center. Western Illinois' legit center is probably their 10th guy. You're going to see a forward, and that becomes a tougher matchup for Seth.

But when we play teams that have that 6-11, 7-0 guy that's going to be a block to block guy and doesn't go out or look to drive you, he could play a role there.

But playing team that are undersized and going to play forwards in that position, that's not a good matchup for him right now.

We like having depth. So, instead of just having Erek, who's a phenominal shot blocker, but is not 250 pounds, to be able to put Seth out there when we play a team that has a 7-0, 260 guy I'd like to be able to match body to body.

J.R. can shoot it. When we play team that want to settle in and zone us the whole game or we may have foul trouble, that's somebody that we can put in there to make shots. We want that versatility.

You have a lot of new guys that might get big eyes going to Maui. Are you going to caution them or talk to them before you go?

I'll tell you what, the strength is Pierre, Jeff and Bru. These are three leaders that they've been through a lot, not just dealing with stuff on the court. That's part of their job.

The atmosphere in Carver doesn't seem to be at the level of other venues in terms of energy. Sometimes the kids feed off of that. Do your guys notice it?

No. Not really. And out attendance in our two exhibition games, you know, we played a Division II team and then we play an unknown foreign team.

We've got more home games this year. So, right now, revenue is probably ahead of last year's revenue as if today. The bottom line, being a revenue sport, that's what you always look at.

But I don't want our guys worrying about who's there. We've had issues with that in the past. That's what's hurt us and affected us. It's about playing the game.

Winning will take care of our crowds. That's what our guys have to do. They know if they win games that's it's going to produce more people. And when we get people in here, this is a very energetic building.

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