Hawks Talk: Pierce, Horner

No. 23 Iowa has jumped out to a 4-1 start on the season. The team returns home for the first time in two weeks on Friday to tip off the Hawkeye Challenge. Guards Jeff Horner and Pierre Pierce have keyed the squad's quick start. Read what the captains said when they met with the media on Thursday in this HN.com Premium Q&A.

PIERRE PIERCE

What do you think about the possibility of playing a Larry Eustachy coached team with all the controversy that surrounded him leaving Iowa State?

That really is not one of our main concerns. We go into every game trying to get a win against a very good opponent.

Do you like playing defense?

Definitely. It's something that a lot of players don't like doing. I like playing on the defensive end; getting us motivated. Even if things are not going well offensively, you've got to step it up defensively.

Coach said they usually put you on their best guy. Can you talk about that challenge?

I love the challenge. I love competition. I like playing against the best.

Does your offensive game suffer when you have to concentrate so much on defense?

I don't think so. Ever since high school, I've always been a defensive player. You've got to be conditioned mentally and physically to play both ends of the court.

Is your offense game where you want it?

Right now, I don't think I'm clicking like I wanted to be. My turnovers are back up again. I'm conscious about that. Once the season goes on, I'll be OK.

What's the cause of it?

I'm trying to do a little too much. I'm trying to get people involved now. My game really isn't where I want it to be right now. Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to work on it, and it will be OK.

Is the foul shooting thing in your head at this point?

I just have to be more consistent with it. It's something that I've worked on all summer. I can't let that become a problem, especially this time of the year. I've just got to continue to work at it.

Is this going to be a hard weekend for Adam?

Maybe a little bit seeing a former coach. But this team is here for him if there's anything he needs. He's going to be able to get through it pretty well.

Does it seem like he's getting a little more accustomed to playing with you guys?

Definitely. Sitting out for a year, I can understand where he's coming from. He's going to be a good piece of the puzzle for us.

Has he talked about Coach Eustachy being back here at all?

Not really. He hasn't brought it up to any of us so far.

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JEFF HORNER

What's it going to be like to get some home games in? You've been on the road for awhile.

Yeah. It seems like we haven't played in Carver for a long time. We're just ready to get back in here and play some ball.

How important is it to protect home court?

It's huge. The last couple of years we haven't done that. That's probably why we haven't been in the NCAA Tournament. We have to big home game this week and two more next week. Hopefully nobody looks passed these two, and we just get the job done.

Will this be a tough weekend for Adam?

I don't know if it will be a tough weekend for him. He's pretty mentally tough. He's coming off of a big game, so his confidence should be pretty high. We're going to need him.

So, he hasn't talked about Coach Eustachy being here?

No. Not at all. He hasn't said anything to us. I think he keeps in touch with him a little bit, but really not that much. It was his first coach, and I'm sure he cares about him. But he hasn't said anything to us about it.

Has the team said anything about it?

Nope. Nothing at all. We're just looking at it as another game. We're just excited to play.

Does this team do a better job of keeping outside distractions away?

Oh yeah. I think so. We're not too worried about that. We're just worried about winning games. That's what we're going to come in here to do. We've won this tournament a lot of years in a row. We're looking to do the same again this year.

What benefit could a favorable schedule be for you guys?

Hopefully we learned a lot from the last two years and learned a lot about protecting hime court because it's going to be huge. We've won enough road games the last two years to get into the NCAA Tournament, but we haven't protected home.

Why are you playing basketball at the highest level you've ever played at right now?

I don't really know what it is. I just come out and try to be aggressive. We've got five guys who can lead us in scoring any night out of the week, and I just happen to be the one doing it right now.

Do you and Brunner have a side bet on who leads the team in rebounding?

No. We have a board up in our locker room. I saw that I was leading the team in rebounding. I told Brunner that I was going to get him this year. We'll see how that ends up.

Coach said that Bru's not real happy about that?

He's not really happy, but hopefully it will put some motivation behind him and he'll get in there and get every rebound from now on.


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