ALOHA: Iowa Kicks Sand On Louisville

The unranked Hawkeyes knocked off No. 13 Louisville, 76-71, in the first round of the Maui Invitational Monday afternoon. Jeff Horner contributed a team-high 18 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals. Greg Brunner added 13 points and 10 boards for Iowa, which advanced to play Texas in Tuesday's semifinals. Read what Coach Steve Alford, Adam Haluska and Mike Henderson had to say after Monday's upset in this free transcript from Learfield Sports.

ADAM HALUSKA

Gary Dolphin: When you're playing a team with this kind of tempo, Adam, it's got to be difficult just settling in against that fullcourt man-to-man pressure. You had to feel fortunate to be only four down at halftime?

Yeah. We knew that. Going into halftime, we knew they were shooting 61 percent. That was a heck of a percentage. We only shot 38 percent. We told everybody in the locker room, just pick of the D. We're going to make free throws. Don't let the pressure bother you.

In the first half, I struggled a little bit with the pressure. I came out really flat, really slow. But the team really got motivated and stuck together in the second half, and the result was a win.

GD: Picking up the defense in the second half is one thing. Employing those adjustments is another. What did you talk about defensively at halftime to come out and shut them down pretty much on the perimeter? What had to happen?

We can't give them threes. They're a great shooting team. Stopping Garcia, and Dean, that was our main focus. They're great players. We just wanted to play pressure D just like they do and get them mixed up.

GD: So they're flustered and they try to go inside and there's Erek Hansen swatting shots left and right. That's a pretty good defensive combination.

He was swatting everything. One time he swatted it and it came directly at me. I couldn't get my hands up quick enough. He did a great job. Doug really did a good job, too.

Bobby Hansen: Adam, you were about 50-45, midway through the second half then you guys go on a 15-3 run. Can you talk about that a little bit?

That run right there, we were going slow. We got a couple of easy shots. Jeff really picked it up. He hit some really big shots. And the momentum swung. We had great fan support here. We were all motivated. That second half run was huge for us.

GD: You still look a little rusty offensively, but can you feel yourself getting your feet underneath you?

I can feel it a little bit. A couple of times taking it to the hoop. I really just need to slow down and jump stop when the pressure D is coming. I haven't played in about a year, but that's no excuse. I have to let the game come to me.

Now you get Texas. One tough team after another. But that's what makes you a better player, right?

Yeah. We're going to come out of this tournament and we're going to know where we stand. We came out here to play the best, and we came out here to win three games. That's what we're trying to do.

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MIKE HENDERSON

GD: You made a big steal in that 15-3 run that gave you guys control of the game. That's what good defense will do for you.

We were getting down on ourselves a lot in a couple of the huddles. One particular huddle we just got in there and we were just like, yo, we're still in this. We've just got to play together. We've got this saying going by this year called, "Hold the rope." That's one thing that coach really stressed during one timeout. Since then, we came out and never looked back

BH: Michael, one of the keys to the game was defending the three. What did you guys do to increase your pressure on the 3-point shot?

We did a lot of close out drills in practice, just coming out with one hand high, just trying to keep on hand in their shooting pocket. Garcia, Dean and Gianiny, they all can really shoot it. And they've got a couple of bigs that can shoot it.

BH: Greg Brunner came up big on the boards. Can you talk about Greg?

Greg is our monster. He's a banger. He's going to be our physical player. The on diving on loose balls; though rebounds; scoring. He does everything. There's nothing that coach stress that he doesn't do.

BH: And when you needed somebody to create, it seemed like Pierre was getting th ejob done going to the basket?

Definitely. Pierre really has been shooting the ball well this year. He can shoot it. He's driving, kicking it out to shooter like Jeff and Adam. He fought through the foul problems early and stayed poised and carried us through.

GD: The depth really seemed to help you guys down the stretch.

That's another thing that coach really stresses in practice. When you get in there, just go all out. If you need a breath, you've got fresh bodies coming in.

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COACH ALFORD

GD: It was defense, and that makes the head coach happy.

You've got that right. The kids just played so dog gone hard. That was a fun game to watch. We never got down. When we were behind, we kept fighting. We played really well in the first half, it's just the same team that set a school record the other night at the foul line couldn't make one in the first half. If we make free throws in the first half, we're up four or five points with a Louisville team that shoots 60 percent in the first half.

What can I say about the kids' defense to where in the second half they come out and hold to 26 percent? You're talking about a team like Louisville. Our guys were just terrific defensively.

GD: Erek Hansen, not only did he change shots, he changed the tempo of the second half.

In that first half when they got our bigs in foul trouble, they were getting confident that they could go inside. In the second half, they got very little down in there. He and Bru did a nice job of protecting the paint.

BH: Coach, when you play Louisville, you know you've got to handle full court pressure and defend the three. You're team did a great job with only 16 turnovers. This is a team that can turn you over a lot more.

Right. We had 19 turnovers last year in an overtime game. So, 16 turnovers is atill a little high for us. But considering the amount of pressure and this is not a short court, but it's tight. Our guards did a nice job; no guard with more than three turnovers.

The thing that I look at, too, is do we have more assists than turnovers? We were plus 2 and Louisville was minus 5. That's a big difference when it comes to shots on goal.

GD: You held them to three points during the 15-3 run that lasted almost eight minutes.

I think there was a seven, eight minute span where they didn't get a field goal. To hold a team like Louisville through that kind of span without a field goal is very impressive. You know, Louisville prides themselves on conditioning. They pride themselves on tough play. That's why we play these games. We want to get an early season test of where our guys are. If they passed any test today, it was in the area of conditioning and toughness.

GD: Brunner likes Louisville, doesn't he?

Yeah. And we just had good balance again. I'll keep working my freshmen in. As this tournament goes, we've got to get them more minutes. Alex did some good things. And Carlton did another nice job in there. These guys will get their minutes. And Seth will get his minutes when we play legit centers.

GD: The big picture is it's nice to look down that bench and have players to put in.

There's no question. I got tired of looking at Rich, Brian and Greg thinking I was going to put them in because dad told me last year that there was no way he was going in.

BH: He can shoot it, though. I've seen him air it out.

He could shoot it.

BH: Mikey kind of tipped us off that you have a saying this year.

Yeah. We talked about "Holding the rope." Just hold the rope because there's a lot of different distractions that come through each year. Obviously, we've been through a lot in the last two years. We've had to endure an awful lot of adverse situations.

I told them that it's not really so much our theme this year. It's what they've done over the last couple of years. They held the rope. You've got to hold that rope and bleed when somebody is about ready to fall off of that cliff.

We've kind of taken that on this year, Bobby, just as a way of saying that there are going to be tough times. At that 12-minute mark, the guys were talking about it. They're like, hey, we've got to hold the rope. It's time to bleed. It's game time. It's a two-possession game. Let's go out and get it done.

BH: Those are life lessons.

It's a fun group. Two things: I want to say congratulations to the football team. I don't know what body of water or where exactly we were over the Pacific, but we kept bugging the pilot to get some information on the game. And it never gave us any information. They just came on with a final score. I don't know if they thought that was funny to make us wait all the way until we got almost to Maui. But the whole plane erupted when we found out that they were Big Ten Champs.

And then I want to send a big thank you to our crowd. Everybody made a big deal bout how many fans that Louisville was bringing. But it meant a lot when our guys ran out and they could hear our crowd. We brought as many fans to this thing as Louisville did.


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