What do you think about tomorrow's game?
It's going to be a great game. We're definitely looking forward to it after last year down there. We want revenge.
How important is the instate series to you guys in the big picture?
It's huge. We play UNI. They played in the NCAA Tournament last year. They're the only state team to make it there. That's where everybody wants to be. We can take a big step forward tomorrow night in establishing ourselves as one of those teams.
Did the UNI guys talk trash during the summer after they beat you guys?
Not really. Some of us are friends with some of those guys. There's really no trash talking. But some of their guys made some comments after the game. We definitely have that up on our board. We're just really looking forward to it.
How do you guys defend the 3-point shot?
We just have to get out and get in them and chase. Our guards are athletic enough to stay with their guards. We're going to have to switch and do a lot of talking.
Is that going to limit some of the chances that you guys take with the traps and that sort of stuff?
It might. We don't really set traps before games. The coaches just kind of call it during timeouts.
Who is the player or players that pose the most threat?
You start right off with Crawford and Jacobsen. They're two of the better scorers in the Missouri Valley Conference. I've played against them the last two years and the summer time. Those two are huge keys to the game just because they do so much stuff. They score. They get rebounds. They assist people. It's going to be tough.
The Coleman kid is playing with a lot of confidence right now. He's just a freshman. He's coming in here. He doesn't really know what the instate rivalry is about yet. He cna just come in here and play.
We've got to be ready for all of them. Brooks McKowen, he got off on us last year. Grant Stoudt, an Iowa kid, is very good. It's going to be a battle out there. I'm looking forward to it.
What were some of the things they were saying after last year's game?
A lot of people say that it's a Hawkeye State. They want to change that.
Definitely give all of the credit to them. That's what they're out there to do to beat us. And we want to beat them just as much as they want to beat us. We have to take it with a grain of salt and look at them as another opponent, but these are a little bit higher standards.
Did you take anything away from their game with Iowa State? Obviously, you're probably not going to play a zone defense.
(Chuckles) Probably not. They have a very potent offense. We do too. Something's got to give. Hopefully it's our offense that outlasts them. It's going to be won on the defensive end. Twp years ago was a pretty low scoring game.
How do you match their desire?
I hope every kid on our team has a lot of desire to win. You can't say that they have more desire than us. We want to win just as bad as they do. It's an instate rival. We're looking at them like they're on top. They made the NCAA Tournament last year. We want to do something for our fans so hopefully they start coming back.
You can't really say that. They're coming in here just like any other opponent. It's an instate rival. It's got bigger standards. We're definitely looking at them as a great opponent.
Do you have yellow shoes?
No I don't. I think Coach Neal is supposed to be ordering some. I don't think they've come in yet. (laughs)
Do you like them?
Yeah. Definitely. We all like Pierre's shows. We'll see if (Neal) gets them.
Where did you get those yellow shoes?
I've had them for awhile. I ordered them off of Nike iD. I was waiting for the Big Ten to break them out, but my ankle was hurting a little bit, so I decided to put them on the second half.
Do you like them?
Definitely. I love them. I was trying to hold off until the Big Ten.
What are you going to wear tomorrow night?
The shoes that I've got on right now (white Nikes). I'll keep the same rotation until January comes.
How do those shoes help with your ankle?
It's just a new style; a new brand. They're really comfortable. I just wanted to put them on. A couple of the guys on the team have them now. We're trying to get a team shoe going now.
You're the trend setter?
Trying to be. (laughs)
How are you guys going to defend the 3-point shooting of UNI?
We're going to really get out there to run transition. We're going to have to make sure they don't get any transition threes. On the post D, we've got to make sure we recover quick to the shooters. That's what they like to do.
How much did that hurt when you lost to them last year?
One game doesn't make or break a season, but you want to win every game, especially in state. We want to have a little bragging rights going into the summer. We have to protect our home court. It's different now. We have to get the crowd going.
If you would have won that game, do you think you would have been in the NCAA Tournament?
It's hard to say. If we would have done a lot of things throughout the course of last season, you could never say. You have to approach every game like you're trying to advance in the NCAA Tournament. You have to come in with that mindset.
In watching last year's Iowa-UNI game, what did you see going on in that game?
I just saw a team that really didn't execute. UNI really came prepared. They were fired up for the game. They played really well, and our guys didn't step up to the challenge.
This year, being at home, hopefully we have the upper hand and can come out and get a win.
Did you play against the Northern Iowa players in the summer?
Yeah, we played against them in the Prime Time League.
Do you guys trash talk good naturedly?
Nah. We're all pretty good friends. That Prime Time League is a great time in the summer to get to know those guys on a better level.
Yeah, you're still being competitive and you're from different schools, but everybody gets along. It's a great time.
Are you surprised by what happened to Iowa State up there?
A little bit just by beating them by 30 at one time in the game. That's pretty impressive. Iowa State is a good team, and they're well coached. It was surprising to everyone.
What went on there?
UNI is a good team. They were up at Cincinnati. They won the Missouri Valley last year. They're another team that's well coached and they've got a lot of great players up there. They keep getting better with each year. They're going to be an exciting team to watch.
How do you see the guard match-ups?
We should all match up pretty evenly. Crawford and Pierre are similar type players. In the other two guard positions, everybody is pretty similar.
Who is that Jeff and McKowen?
Jeff and McKowen and probably Jacobsen and myself. Our benches are pretty similar,too - a couple of strong guards coming off the bench.
Dod you play against Jacobsen growing up?
Yeah. Everybody played against one another in the AAU circuit. I remember playing up there when I was a freshman at Iowa State. I've gotten a chance to play against UNI before. I know it's tough to play up there. Hopefully down here we'll have an advantage.
Maybe we're making more of this than it is, but you're on an emotional ride with the potential of meeting Eustachy last weekend and with the matchup against Iowa State this Friday. What's going to be your mindset then?
I've just got to take each game one at a time. This UNI is huge. That's what you've got to be thinking about.
When the Iowa State game comes and Wednesday rolls around, then I'll be ready. Until then, UNI is a big win for us that we need to get.
Do you talk to guys up there?
I've talked to John (Neal) a couple of times. I talked to Jared (Homan) this fall. I know they'll be fired up. They've got a big game tonight.
Do you still watch them as much as you can?
I try to as much as they're on TV out here. I try to watch them and see how they're doing.
How do you stop Jacobsen? Do you deny him the ball or do you just have to stay with him everywhere he goes?
We had the day off yesterday. Today is the real big prep day.
But they're a great shooting team. We're going to have to come out and pressure them and just get a hand in their face.