Notes & Quotes: Iowa Drops Drake

The Hawkeyes continued their early season success with a dominating 91-75 victory against Drake Tuesday night in the Knapp Center. HN.com was in the house to take in the action. We have game notes and quotes from Steve Alford, Tom Davis, Doug Thomas, Jeff Horner, Greg Brunner and Carlton Reed in this premium Notes & Quotes package.

NOTES

-Motivating Factor: Iowa Coach Steve Alford really lost his cool for the first time this season, and sophomore guard Mike Henderson was the catalyst.

Henderson attempted to break the Drake full court press with a behind-the-back dribble. The ball was stolen and taken in for a Bulldog lay-up.

Seconds later, the media timeout came at the 11:53 mark of the first half. Alford waited for his young guard to approach the bench and literally got into his face. The coach was screaming so hard that his face turned red.

Alford continued to get into Henderson through about the midway point of the timeout before slamming his clipboard to the ground. The coach apparently got through to his pupil.

Henderson responded with a long jumper and a driving lay-up on back-to-back trips to send the Hawkeyes on a key run that led to a 17-point halftime margin.

-Early Entries: With starting center Erek Hansen sidelined with a hip injury and his backup Doug Thomas saddled with early foul trouble, Alford dipped into his bench early. Henderson and seldom-used freshman post player Seth Gorney entered with 13:08 to play in the first half.

As Alford alluded to doing earlier in the season, he used the 7-foot Gorney to match up with an opponent's true center - in this case, Drake's Aliou Keita. Gorney fairly well considering the limited time he had seen this season, but Keita managed to drop in a first-half high 16 points.

-Mad Doctor: Bulldog Head Coach Tom Davis showed frustration in guard Sean Tracy early in the first half. Tracy had lost track of Iowa's Jeff Horner, who notched three quick treys.

Davis jumped off the bench hollering and replaced Tracy with Lonnie Randolph, who had just come out for a rest.

-Good Cop, Bad Cop Chronicles: This might be a recurring note throughout the season with Hawkeye Associate Head Coach Craig Neil playing the good to Alford's bad.

Alford jumped on an official for a foul call midway through the first half. Before the referee could argue back with the coach, Neil stepped in between to say something and pull the two apart. Whatever he said must have been funny, as the official walked away laughing.

-Sparkplug: Hawkeye freshman Carlton Reed played like a seasoned veteran Tuesday night. The Waterloo native rang up 10 first-half points.

During a stretch midway through the opening 20 minutes, Reed rained in a three before going in on a coast-to-coast lay-up in the ensuing possession. He drilled a trey at the buzzer that sent the teams into the locker room.

-Tip-Ins: Iowa used a half court trap that led to a few turnovers…Hawkeye guard Adam Haluska took a hard fall when he drove hard to the basket on a fastbreak early in the second half. He got pounded by Keita, who just glared down at the fallen player. Haluska sank both free throws…Shortly after the Haluska play, Horner got popped in the face and suffered a bloody nose…. Iowa freshman post Alex Thompson also sparked his team in the first half. He enjoyed a sequence that read layup, block on Keita, short J, block. The Hawkeyes owned a 49-35 lead at the end of the spurt…Henderson was whistled for an intentional foul six minutes into the second half when he knocked Chaun Brooks to the ground on a lay-up attempt. It appeared that Henderson got a lot of the ball on the play…Thomas played very timid after leaving the game following two early fouls. As a result, Thompson and Reed shared his spot in the lineup for a long stretch in the second half. Iowa used a lineup of Reed, Haluska, Horner, Brunner and Pierce against Drake's pressure…The Knapp Center was filled with much more energy than it had in my last few trips into the building. The student section - called The Dog Pound - was loud and sometimes clever. Keita seems to be their favorite player. They chanted "No means No" while Pierre Pierce was in the foul line. Nobody on Iowa seemed to pay any attention to it…Overall, the crowd appeared to be about 70 percent in favor of Drake…As is his custom, Davis stood up for the entire game…Horner picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:16 to play in the game. He was replaced by Henderson before returning at the 3:58, when Greg Brunner picked up his fourth. Brunner remained in the game. Brunner fouled on a hand-check foul 20 feet from the basket with 2:03 on the clock…Prime Time League Commissioner Randy Larson sat behind the Drake bench…Alford and Davis were working the officials hard in the final minutes of the game. Alford wanted reaching fouls called during the Drake press. Davis wanted offensive pushing off whistled.

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QUOTES

Steve Alford

Opening Statement: We knew this was going to be a hard fought game. We knew the front end and the back end (surrounding the Maui Invitational) was going to be very demanding. To get double figure wins at home on the front end and then on the road was big. Our last three trips over here, I think we've won by a combined seven points. It was good to look up and see (a double figure lead).

Drake plays awfully hard. I've got to give them credit. They gave everything they had and played awfully hard. Then, I have to give our guys credit. When shots weren't falling, they didn't get it inside 10. That's a great credit to what our guys were able to do.

This was a very big key road win for us. Now we get to go home for two weeks. It's going to be important that we get some rest and get back to work on Thursday and get ready for our classic Friday and Saturday.

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Q&A

Can you talk about the 12-0 run you went on in the first half with Horner on the bench?

Our bench in the first half that's as good as it's been. And we've got to hope that we keep getting improvements from our bench. If we want to have a special year, our bench has got to keep getting better and it has go to produce.

With Erek being out, it messed with our starting lineup a little bit. I don't think that Doug ever got into the flow of things. Really, it was a game without Erek or Doug making much of a contribution. On a night when we really had to have our bench step up, they did that.

You got a big game out of Haluska, too.

Yeah. Adam is starting to play well. We'd like him to be more consistent, but we know he hasn't played for awhile. He's has two really good games in a row here. He's getting to the free throw line. He's shooting the shot well. He's defending pretty well. He's rebounding well for us. Adam was as good as we had on the floor tonight.

Could Hansen have played tonight?

That was iffy. I always trust our doctors. It was a bruise. You run the risk of it maybe being more serious down the road; very similar to holding Adam out maybe a week longer than what he really needed to be held out hoping there aren't any long-term effects.

Now that we've gotten by this, I'm hoping that he can be near 100 percent by Friday.

Did you have any idea that with him out you would get beat so bad in the paint?

We're very encouraged by a lot of things, but we've got to work on post defense and perimeter defense. We've said all along that unless our defense improves, we're just going to be average. We've got to continue to work defensively.

To the guys' credit, we've had about one and a half practices in the last eight days. When you're playing lots of games in a few days and there are no practices, it's just abut getting the wins. In our practice time, that's what we've got to really drill on.

You guys looked at Keita coming out of high school. He seemed pretty jacked up to play against you guys tonight.

Well, yeah. That's college basketball. The Randolph kid is an Indiana kid and he always comes at us hard. Brody Boyd goes home to play Indiana, he wants to shoot it every time instead of every other time. That's the way that kids are.

Aliou was phenominal tonight. We did not have an answer for him. It's a great credit to him and his teammates for getting him the ball. He was tremendous.

Now in that, it did take away from what their normal flow of threes and what they get in transition. It did slow them at least a little bit. We were giving up the two instead of the three. None the less, we've got a long way to go with our post defense.

Did it seem that your team gained confidence from what you did in Maui?

Our team knew that if we can beat Louisville and Texas and play as hard as we did against North Carolina, we ought to be able to play with anybody. They really focused on this being our one road game (in state). This was a key win.

You lose this tonight, and Maui takes on a whole different meaning. Last year we were ranked for a better part of a week. We come out ranked the Monday before the Northern Iowa game and the following Monday we're out and we never get back. Our team has matured a little bit. They understand the process. We've just got hope that we can keep improving.

How did you guys handle the Drake pressure?

This year we got to play Louisville first. Last year, it was the flip of that. Both of those teams helped us in preparing for both of them. We didn't see much of their 3/4 press tonight. It was all right on the ball.

With the exception of some spurts where we got tired and we stood, we handled it decently. We couldn't sub our guards as much because of the flow, and then we got in serious foul trouble again. But for the most part, our guards really handled things pretty well.

Can you talk about the decision to sit Doug Thomas for most of the second half?

He just didn't handle starting very well. I told him in the locker room, "This is your first start. You're realizing there's a difference in Division I basketball."

He's been playing well. He's just been in foul trouble. He can't keep getting in foul trouble. It disrupts the flow of everything we're doing with our frontcourt subbing. And we're not getting to see his ability.

He's a good foul shooter. He's a tremendous athlete. He can ignite us in a lot of ways.

We're averaging in the 80s right now with Doug not hitting on all cylinders. We've just got to get him in a better flow of the game.

Did that 12-0 run kind of stamp would could be your trademark this year?

Well, we're only five games in. But we're explosive enough offensively that we're going to be able to score. My question marks are still defensively. We still have way too many breakdowns defensively. That's going to be the X factor in the success of our year.

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Tom Davis

Opening Statement: We got a little disrupted in the first half, which good ballclubs can do to you. We got down by double digits, and we could just never quite crawl back. We competed hard in the second half, but couldn't quite get it done.

If you look at the numbers, those are pretty solid games by our front line, which is supposedly our weakest area. Now, if we can get the guard play coming along, I feel good about the ball club.

But Iowa is good. I like Iowa's team. Playing without Hansen I'm sure hurt them. You could see the depth that they are developing as well as the outstanding talent that they have. They have a nice team.

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Q&A

Was it encouraging the way Aliou was aggressive offensively?

Very much so. He has not looked that good in practice ever. That's by far the best he's played. He was determined. Some guys will do that. The game will start, and he'll rise. Aliou has done that.

As I said before, he's a willing worker. He is just very coachable. He's got a great pair of hands and a great attitude. You saw the beginning of his career there tonight.

Whether he can play back to that level, you don't know. That was really a strong performance. But it gives him confidence that he can get it done.

They went on a 12-0 spurt on you with Horner on the bench. What do you think got away from you there?

We get disrupted by calls a little too much. We've got to work on that. We get a little too rattled when things don't go our way. They're growing pains that teams have to go through. That impacted our backcourt more than it should have.

That's what good teams do to you. They see openings and they jump in there and knock down shots. They've got four proven really top players in that starting lineup. Now the fifth dimension, Hansen, Thomas, whoever it's going to be, that's a really fine team.

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Doug Thomas

You looked a little flat out there. Did you feel different?

I was kind of like that all day. Just knowing that I was getting the chance to start, I was, thinking that I've got to come out and play hard. I think to myself, and I always get down on myself. Once I get down on myself, it's hard for me to shake that.

I'm a competitive player. When something doesn't go my way, I get down on myself. That affected me tonight.

Is that something you're going to have to learn how to deal with?

I was like that my whole basketball career, It wasn't that big of a deal in high school, but now in college it's a different level and I can't let that affect me.

Did you feel like you never got in a flow tonight?

I feel like I wasn't even in the flow in the warm-ups. I'm a energy guy on this team. If I don't bring energy, that hurts the team. I didn't do my part tonight. I apologize to my team. I let them down. I let the coaches down, and I know I let myself down. I've got to come out and do better next game.

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Jeff Horner

Could you talk about Carlton's performance tonight?

Carlton was really huge. He hit some threes, played great defense and hit some free throws down the stretch. The whole bench was just great. We're going to need them all to step up here in the end because a lot of people are logging a lot of minutes.

When you guys were able to break the press, what did you do well?

That's when we made our big run. We calmed ourselves down, and we got lay-ups. That's what put us up in the first half, and that's what put it away for us at the end of the game.

Technically, what was the key to breaking the pressure?

People just not moving. Not taking care of the ball. Making silly passes. Dribbling too much. The key to it was that we started passing the ball up the floor more.

How big of a win is this coming off of Maui?

It's a huge win. Coach talked to us. Before and after, some teams falter here or there. We haven't done that yet, so hopefully we can just keep it up. It's an intrastate rival. We haven't won the state title in awhile.

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Greg Brunner

Some might have looked at this as a trap game coming off of Maui. What did you guys show tonight being able to come in here and pretty much handle it start to finish?

It's our one (instate) away game for the year. It was a must win. It's always hard to play here. Tonight we showed people that we're a lot better team than we were the last couple of years.

You guys seem like you're on more of an even keel this year. Is that accurate?

Exactly. We can't get up high to play one team and overlook another team. I think we've done that in the past. If we can stay away from that, we'll be successful. It's a tough thing to do because you play so many teams in a season. But hopefully we can achieve that.

What type of adjustment did you have to make tonight without Erek?

We didn't make any adjustments at all. We didn't play very well as post players. Aliou had a great game. He played well. I give him a lot of credit.

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Carlton Reed

It seemed like you settled in real nice tonight. You didn't look shaken by the crowd.

I'm definitely comfortable. Just being confident out there, that makes you comfortable. And I'm confident in what I can do. They gave me a chance to play, and I just went out there and did what I knew I could do and tried not to do anything wrong.

When was the last time you had a game like that? It was probably here in Des Moines at the state tournament.

It's been awhile. I played real well in exhibition. When the regular season started, I hadn't really played too much until tonight.

Did you feel like you were going to get a shot with Erek out and them being guard oriented?

Yeah, I saw how the fouls were going early. So, I figured I've got to be r eady because maybe they were going to call on me to go out there and contribute. They did. I just went out there and had a good game.

What was it like facing that kind of pressure?

Their press is awesome. They're never out of games with that press. They force a lot of turnovers.


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