Hawks Hold Off Nothern Iowa

Iowa played strong defense in the final 18 seconds and received clutch offense from Jeff Horner to top UNI, 76-73, Tuesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Greg Brunner scored 23 for the winners, while Horner added 16 and a team-high nine boards. Read what Brunner, Horner, Adam Haluska, Steve Alford and Greg McDermott said about this classic contest, plus pick up some tidbits from the game in this HN.com premium Notes & Quotes Package.


Match-ups: Iowa started the game playing man-to-man defense with Pierre Pierce on UNI PG Brooks McKowen, Jeff Horner on Ben Jacobsen and Adam Haluska guarding Erik Crawford. On Monday, Haluska thought that he would be on Jacobson, Horner would be on McKowen and Pierce on Crawford. Iowa did switch up to that alignment later in the half.

Bru Do: After being yanked from the game early on for an ill-advised shot, Greg Brunner returned several minutes later for a strong rebound and put-back.

Shortly after that score, the junior came back and got fouled on a drive then hit a short shot on a neat post move against Grant Stoudt.

Brunner scored eight points in the half and set a beautiful screen to free Horner up for a 3-pointer. He took over the game in the second half, scoring 15 to finish with 23.

Big E: Erek Hansen started the game on fire offensively, connecting on three short jumpers and a 3-pointer before the first media timeout. After sitting for a few minutes, he came up with a nice post move and basket to have 11 points with 7 minutes to go in the opening half.

Hansen scored 13 first-half points (6-for-6 from the floor) to match his career high for a game. (Western Illinois) He only played 13 minutes before the intermission.

Crowd?: The crowd was very disappointing for an instate opponent with a strong team. It was announced at 10, 349, but the actual crowd easily came in at less than 10,000. The school announced that 4,000 remained for the game on Monday. Either some ticket buyers stayed home or Iowa was off on its estimate.

The Iowa Student section, though small, performed well in support of its team.

Tip-Ins: Linn-Mar guard and Iowa recruiting target Jason Bohanon attended the game and sat behind the Iowa bench…UNI coach Greg McDermott pulled McGowen out early with two fouls and sat him on the bench for 11 minutes of the first half. Chris Foster and Pete Schmidt ran the point…Pierce and UNI's John Little each got a technical foul late in the first half for getting into a short pushing match. It appeared that Little tackled Pierce on a dribble drive. Pierce popped up and shoved Little, who returned the action. The two players yelled at each other briefly before being separated by teammates and officials…Former Hawkeyes James Moses and Ryan Hogan attended the game. The Iowa cheerleaders threw a free T-shirt to Moses during a timeout promotion…Haluska and Crawford each were held scoreless in the first half. Haluska's first hoop game with 13:19 left in the second half. Crawford's first points came on a 3-pointer with 6:32 to play in the game…at the 11:21 mark of the second half, Jacobson (23), Stoudt (13) and Coleman (14) accounted for all of UNI's scoring…Iowa freshman offensive Seth Olsen watched the game from behind the Hawkeye bench…Iowa basically utilized a seven-man rotation with Carlton Reed (5 minutes) and Alex Thompson (DNP CD) being the odd men out. Reed got all of his time in the first half…


Steve Alford

Opening Statement: That was a heck of a college basketball game between two teams that really like who they are. The coaches like their set of players. The players understand systems really well. There's not many games where you look down and field goals (made) and field goals attempted are the same (for both teams).

This was just a very even basketball game. We had to get two stops in the final 18.5 seconds. We've got a long way to go defensively, but we're making some small steps in the right direction.

It's two programs that do it the right way. I have the utmost respect for Greg (McDermott) and what he does and how he does it. It was a lot of Iowa kids on both teams fighting like crazy.

You'll see a similar thing happen next year at the UNI-Dome because most of these guys are back for both teams. We feel very pleased we were able to get a win tonight.


Defensively you did a good job on Crawford.

Adam didn't ever get in the flow offensively as far as getting the shots we need for him to get. That's the kind of kid he is. He kind of sacrificed offense tonight to do a great job defensively. He and Pierre in our backcourt and then Mikey coming off of the bench, those guys were terrific defensively. That was a big key for us.

On Northern Iowa's last play, what was your defensive philosophy?

We just wanted to put Erek on the ball. With a shot blocker and a big long guy, we've got to use that.

We wanted them to have to catch in the backcourt; pressure them; fouling them wasn't going to be the worst thing. We didn't want to play soft. We didn't want them to have a full head of steam and run at us. We wanted them to take the shot that they had to take, a halfcourt shot.

If they throw that in, then we go into overtime. We're at home. We didn't want them to make anything quick and get a wide open look at things.

Your guards took good care of the ball.

Yeah. But you know what? Both teams did. Their bigs played well offensively and our bigs played well offensively.

I don't know how Greg feels, but when we break down the tapes, we'll see that both teams need a lot of work on post defense. They'd get a layup on one end. We'd come back and get a layup on the other end.

You threw everything you had at Jacobson in the first half, but he still scored. What did you change in the second half?

Well, I don't know about "everything." He's a terrific player. The tradeoff was that Crawford didn't mark. They have one of their three guards in Crawford that doesn't mark, and we have one of three guards in Haluska that doesn't mark.

We tried to make some adjustments and put different people on him. But we still wanted to keep pressure on the point guards. We wanted to make it a little bit more difficult for them to enter with all of the sets that they like to run.

Did you do anything different against Jacobson in the second half?

It's just challenging your guys. We've played against some pretty good guards. I told them, Garcia got 17 for the game, this kid got 17 for a half.

Jeff worked a little bit harder, and out posts helped a little bit better. As they subbed and made switches, we got Pierre on him. That helped a little bit, too.

Erek Hansen, the light bulb went on.

Yeah. He got tired, Brooksie. He was terrific through the first 10 minutes. He's got to fight through some fatigue.

He and Greg really did some good things inside, but seven rebounds out of those two are unacceptable. Those are things we're going to keep hammering home.

I love the way Jeff Horner rebounds. But Jeff Horner shouldn't be leading us in rebounds. The bigs, as good as they were offensively, we're going to find as many things wrong defensively with them. We've got to get good at both if we're going to become a good basketball team down the road.

What was the difference between Greg's first half and second half?

Nothing defensively. It was the same. It was bad in the first half. It was bad in the second half. (laughter)

From an offensive standpoint, he was good. He was a little anxious and he hurried in the first half. He calmed down. We just have to get more out of him from a defensive standpoint.

It's a learning process. Both of those guys will come around.

I didn't get Alex in the flow today. I didn't get Carlton in the flow like normal. Our bench should be pretty well rested come Friday.

What was the idea of putting Pierre on Brooks instead of Jacobson or Crawford?

Last year with Brody guarding Brooks and their point guards, we didn't do a very good job of keeping him in front. They got a lot of layups. They were able to comfortable enter a lot of their sets.

Our thought process was to put Pierre on him and make it harder for Brooks to enter their offensive sets. And we thought Adam was big enough and strong enough to guard Crawford. That worked out.

Jacobson got away from Jeff a little bit early in the game. But I liked it, and would probably do that again of just keeping pressure on that point position.

Also, how do you feel Erik Coleman played?

I'm not speaking for Coach McDermott, but to me he's their X-factor. That's a great get for them when you lose Gruber and Schneiderman. You have to have guys to fill those gaps. Stout and Coleman to a great job of filling those gaps for them.


Greg McDermott

Opening Statement: That was a great basketball game. I'm proud of my team from the standpoint that we battled back, although I've come to expect that from them. There's not an ounce of quit in that group. Tonight, we got beat by a very good basketball team that is really hitting on all cylinders right now.

They've got a great mix. Greg Brunner really hurt us. It's tough to guard them with all of their shooters and with Pierre's ability to beat you off of the dribble if you have to provide help for Brunner and Hansen. Hansen hurt us the first half. Brunner hurt us the second half.

We did what we needed to do to start the second half. We scored on 10 out of 15 possessions. But we didn't do what defensively what we needed to do. They scored on 11 of 16 to start, and we couldn't really cut into that lead. We just basically kept it even.

Both teams were fatigued. Both teams were tired. Neither team went to their bench as deep as we have in the past. Both Coach Alford and I felt like one possession could turn this game if we didn't be careful.

Coming here and giving ourselves with 20 seconds left...You know, I've got a hundred darn plays on this stupid (index) card and I just called the wrong one. I tried to out guess Coach Alford, and he out guessed me with how they would defend that play.

We had to put it in Jacobson's hands and let him win or lose the game for us. He got us there. We felt like we had a play that we really hadn't used much that maybe we could get him free or get Stoudt on a stepback. Pierre defended it well.

So, we came up a little short, but got beat by a very good basketball team.


What was the plan in the last four seconds?

Chris was just going to try to turn the corner and get it to the middle of the floor. He had the clock in front of him. He had Veit in one corner, Crawford in the other and then Jacobson coming from behind. Chris has to just make sure we at least throw it up there and give ourselves a chance.

The game was won or lost long before then. Defensively, we just weren't good enough. We shot it well enough. We took care of it well enough. We rebounded it well enough. We just couldn't stop them. Part of that is us, but part of that is them being pretty darn good.

A couple of missed free throws hurt, too.

Well, yeah, but they missed a couple, too. We're disappointed we missed those, but Adam Haluska's not going to miss free throws very often. Pierre missed the front end there, too.

Those kind of balanced each other out. But I know the guys that missed them are disappointed. They expect to step up in that situation and make plays.

But I'm proud of my team. Crawford struggled. He just couldn't get his wind tonight, and then he bit his tongue in half. But he came back in the seconf half and hit big shots for us.

Coleman in this environment for a freshman was outstanding. We did what we had to do. You know, 19 assists, 9 tunrovers. We outrebound this team. We just couldn't guard them, and I'd like to think we're OK defensively. They're just really a good offensive team. And defensively, they caused us enough problems to win the game.

Are these losses to ranked teams kind of hard to take or do you guys learn from them?

They are hard to take because we expect to win. Our guys prepare like everybody else. These guys have invested a lot in this program and in each other.

You only get so many cracks at it. Thirty games a year isn't that many basketball games. You want to take advantage of each and every one.

They played their hearts out. We expected to win. We came up a little short. This is two Top 25 teams where we had a chance to win it in the last seconds and came up a little short. My hope is that it will benefit us somewhere down the road.

Greg, how good do you think these two teams can be?

Anytime you have shooters, and we're not just talling good shooters, we're talking great shooters. When Jacobson and Horner and Crawford and Haluska are shooting in that 50 percent range from the 3-point line five or six or seven games in, that's pretty good shooting.

We both have enough attack game and in between game, to complement that shooting. And then it really comes down to the inside game. Coleman has really risen for us. And Stout get us 15 and seven tonight. And their two big guys play solid.

As long as out front lines can hold together, and we're a little younger there because we don't have the experience of Greg Brunner, the sky is the limit for both teams.

You seem to have a liking for the Iowa guys from Iowa.

It's not only the Iowa guys. We just have a lot of respect for their program and the way that they do things and the way that Coach Alford runs his program. He does it the right way. He does it with class.

They've been very respectful to us. We compete against each other in the summer time in a fun, respectful way, trying to get better and get after each other. But at the end of the day, we hope they win every game but one all year long. I truly believe that they feel the same way about us.

Our programs have become closer because of the Prime Time League in the summer. Brian Jones is on this staff. I've know Greg Lansing forever.


Adam Haluska

How did you guys come up with the plays down the end?

Coach just wrote down 18 seconds. We needed to defend for 18 seconds.

UNI has got a great team this year. They've got a lot of guys returning. You have to keep oin the lookout for all five of them. You couldn't really relax.

We just really came together as a team. We held on. Luckily, it came out in our favor.

What was your view of Jacobson's shot?

Jacobson's such a great shooter, every shot he takes you think it's going to go in. He took some tough shots tonight, and he made a lot of them.

How about your missed free throw at the end?

Jeff told me afterwards that I was choking up there. He noticed that I was nervous. He said that my knees were shaking.

I really didn't think it was that big, but he let me hear about it afterwards. He said that he'd clean up my mess. He did, and we move on.

You struggled on offense tonight, but coach said you gave it up to play great defense on Crawford. Can you talk about that?

Offensively, I just let it come to me. Whatever I had, I took. Tonight, we had a lot of guys step up - Erek and Bru and Jeff and Pierre.

Defense was what I really needed to concentrate on. Crawford came in scoring 20 some points a game. I knew that for us to be successful, I really had to step it up on the defensive end.


Greg Brunner

How is it different playing against these guys than other opponents?

I played with a lot of their guys in AAU. I played with a lot of these guys in Prime Time. We know each other very well. We know a lot of their moves. Before the game even started, I knew what each player could do, how they could do it, and you just learn so much from playing with them all summer.

Does this game carry over to Prime Time in terms of bragging rights?

Not at all. That's a totally different level. That's relaxing. This, you've got to win.

Each team usually has a guy from UNI and guy from Iowa on it. You've got to learn to play together.

You and Coleman were like two dancing bears there. Can you talk about that match-up?

Erik does a great job. Coleman is a skilled player. He made some tough moves in there and finished very well. Stoudt did some things to me on the outside. It's all about learning and picking up things as you go.

Coach pulled you out early. Was that to settle you down a little?

Yeah. The first two moves I made, I lost the ball. One, I was trying to pass to Erek. The other got stripped by Jacobson.

Sometimes I want to play so much, I get out there and get a little too quick for myself. I try to make the moves too fast.


Jeff Horner

Adam said that you bailed him out of his missed foul shot?

I don't know if I bailed him out. Our motto is hold the rope. I just tried to do that.

Is UNI in the same category with Louisville, Texas and North Carolina?

Definitely. UNI is a great team. What makes them so great is how hard they play. They play harder than any team we've played this year.

When they're shooting the way that they did tonight, they're a very good ball club. We did a good job on Crawford. They're big guys played pretty well. But our big guys played pretty well, too.

What happened when you guys lost the bigger lead?

That was a stretch when we didn't play every well. We didn't play very good offense, and we didn't play very good defense, that's for sure.

We're going to have to fix some things. But the ultimate goal tonight was to get a win. And that's exactly what we did.

Did you sort of feel like it was slipping away?

Being a basketball player for a long time, when you're down 10 points, you love that situation. You can run and gun and that's exactly what they did. Give them credit. They came back in the game. We were just lucky enough to hold them off.

You hit a big 3-pointer and a couple of free throws in the final minute. Is it getting easier in those situations? Have you learned from the past?

I don't know if it gets easier. It doesn't get much more intense than that. I just thank God that I made that 3-pointer and then made those free throws in the end. Everybody just gave a great effort. I'm just grateful we got a win.

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