Hawkeye Men Roll Over Western Illinois

Iowa opened the season with an impressive 85-62 victory against Western Illinois Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Jeff Horner contributed 10 points, six assists and seven steals on a night when the home team forced 26 turnovers. Six different Hawkeyes score in double figures. Read what Coach Steve Alford, Adam Haluska, Erek Hansen and Doug Thomas thought about the game in this Quotes and Notes HN.com Premium Wrapup.



Opening Statement: This was really a good start for us. We knew we were going to get a good test. I like team (Western Illinois). They're going to win a lot of games in that league. They just have to survive this early season of playing us and UCLA and Indiana.

But we knew they'd test us and fight us for 40 minutes. I really enjoyed watching our guys compete. They gave is great effort tonight. They really defended well. We had some breakdowns; probably about an eight-minute breakdown in the second half.

The board play doesn't concern me a whole lot in the fact that we forced them into 26 turnovers. When you turn it over 26 times, you're not going to get as many shots on goal. That's evident if you look at the threes and the total field goals. We got more shots on goal. That takes away some of the board play.


Have you been working on free throws? (Iowa set an Arena record by making 20 of 20 from the stripe)

Nah. They do a good job in practice every day. We have guys that have good form. It's all about concentration.

The thing that I like I think six different guys shot them. It wasn't like one guy shot 15 or something. They've been working hard on them. The credit goes to the guys. They put in the time. Hopefully we can continue that.

Adam looked a lot more comfortable.

Yeah. He's still rusty from the standpoint of not playing for two weeks. But this was good for him to have success in a live experience.

The key was getting him over what he had to get over in the second exhibition game. If not, this game would have been that game.

So, to his credit and to our trainers' credit, they got him back. He was a big key for us tonight.

Could you talk about the lift Doug Thomas gave you?

Doug was very anxious in his first minute and a half. Doug usually responds to a pretty good chewing. And after a good chewing he really responded. He ignited us.

We might have had more dunks tonight than we had all of last year. Doug sparks that. Doug is a very athletic player. He did a very nice job in the minutes that he got.

With as much zone as you had to play last year, was it an effort to get the guys to buy back into playing man to man?

It's going to evolve over the season, I hope. And we'll still play some zone. We thought about it today, especially with some of the lineups that they put out there.

We've really worked hard on the man to man. It's more of the guys understanding why we've had the zone in the past and now with our depth why we should be a better man to man team. It's been a long time since our defense has forced 26 turnovers. That's encouraging. And then for us to have seven more assists than turnovers, other than free throws, was the key to the game.

A lot of that had to do with Jeff Horner. That's a pretty good looking stat line.

Jeff is just really solid. He was solid again tonight. We thought that our strength was going to be guard play. Our guards are very capable of big nights in scoring, rebounding and assists. That was a good start for him.

What is the extent of Pierre's ankle injury?

We'll definitely take him with us to Hawaii.

So, he's OK?

Yeah. He's fine.



What happened at the start of the game?

We really wanted to come out and start off fast unlike the exhibition games. This time we had a mindset of starting off fast. We came out there, and we executed a lot better tonight.

Did you feel more comfortable out there?

I felt a little bit more comfortable. I'm still a little shakey, a little nervous out there. But hopefully when I get out to Maui this game will be under my belt and things will pick up.

What enabled you guys to break it open at the end of the first half?

Our defense picked up. We forced a lot of turnovers. We got after it on the defensive end, and that's where it starts.

Does Doug give you guys a lot of energy?

Doug gives everybody a lot of energy, especially the crowd. He comes up with some nasty dunks. It gets us going. It gets the crowd going. That's another thing that contributed to our first half spurt that we went on.

Are you shooting the 3-pointer with more confidence than in the past?

I think so. Coach is on the sideline telling me when I have an open look to shoot it. If I don't have that shot going in, it gets kind of frustrating because that's my role. That's what I'm supposed to do.



You guys looked better from the start tonight.

We came out with a lot more energy. When we were warming up, we had a lot more energy than our exhibition games. Coming out, we just got pumped up in the hallway and got ready to go.

Can you talk about Doug's contributions?

He's a beast when he comes to the boards. He's grabbing everything that comes near him. He energizes the whole team when he gets those fastbreak dunks.



We hear the coach had something to say to you at the beginning of the game.

It wasn't there for me at first. Coach Alford took me to the side and said that I needed to start rebounding and running. I knew that I could do that. I just started busting my tail down the court.

Are you looking to dunk every time you get the ball in a certain area?

If I see the lane, why take a 15-foot jump shot when I can just take two steps and just bring the house down. Everybody wants to see some shots, but the crowd loves some showtime. So, that's what I give them.

Do you feel the energy you bring the team when you do those things?

Oh yeah. I just feel the eruption of the crowd. That's why I pump my hands. It's like. "Let's get this thing. Let's get it louder." You get it loud and the team just starts to play harder and everything just starts to roll together.

What was that hand signal you were giving?

That's just the two-three. I'm just looking for a signature. If I get a big dunk, I'll hold up the 2-3 to let them know that 23 is here.


HIGHLIGHT REEL: Doug Thomas delivered a driving dunk that electrified crowd with about 9 minutes left first half. The play ignited the Hawks after the game was tied at 15. Iowa took a 29-19 lead into the locker room.

Later in the half, Thomas grabbed a pair of ally-oop passes, one each from Pierce and Horner, and rocked through a couple of slams. He returned to the other end of the court holding up a two fingers on one hand and three on the other - his uniform number.

Southeastern brought four buses full of fans to the game to catch Thomas' Division I debut. Western also had former Southeastern players on its roster.

START ME UP: After an injury plagued preseason, Iowa State transfer Adam Haluska started in his first ever game as a Hawkeye. The sophomore scored his first points on a pair of free throws at around the 8-minute mark of the first half.

Haluksa, who said he was 75 percent earlier in the week, moved very well. He seemed to get winded at times, however.

SHORTENED ROTATION: Coach Alford relied less on his bench in the opening half Friday than he had in the team's two exhibition games. Freshmen Carlton Reed and Alex Thompson each played just two minutes in the opening 20, and Mike Henderon, who had been starting before Haluska's return, saw just seven minutes before the break.

The reserves played much more after the intermission when the Hawkeyes enjoyed a comfortable lead most of the way.

STAT:Jeff Horner looked exceptional in the opening half, scoring 10 points and swiping four steals with five assists and no turnovers. The junior has been playing under control this early season. It's amazing what a few minutes of rest each night can do.

LINE-UP LOOKS: Iowa used a number of different combinations Friday. Thomas played quite a bit up front with Erek Hansen and Thompson. Brunner and Thompson also played together.

Coach Alford replaced Haluska with Henderson. Horner slid over to the two guard when Henderson entered.

TIP-INS: Henderson's outside looks much improved. You can tell that he worked on his form in the offseason…the announced (paid) crowd was 10,004. It was probably more like 8,500.

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