Alford: Iowa-ISU Could Be Best Game in Series

#17 ranked Iowa will host Iowa State at 7:05pm on Friday night in what promises to be a fast paced and entertaining game between the two heated rivals. Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford spoke with the Iowa media on Thursday via teleconference, and he talked about several Iowa State players, what they like to do, their differences this year versus last and what he likes about his team in this quotebook package.

NOTE: 400 tickets remain for Friday night according to the ticket office as of Thursday morning.

Iowa State doesn't have Jake Sullivan or Jackson Vroman any longer, so how do they look different?

They are very athletic, maybe the most athletic team that we will have played to date. They can put a lot of pressure on you both offensively and defensively. They are a very good transition team.

What they miss in Sullivan is having that long-range shooter.

What do you look for out of your post defense in this game?

That is a great question, and it will be tested in this game. We have not done that well. Drake and UNI hurt us inside and that is a concern, because they will go inside and attack the backboard. What we do there will be a big key.

ISU seems to be best in transition and you have shot well. Does making shots slow them down?

We are playing at home, and we are shooting nearly 50% from the floor and shooting the three ball well and we are taking good shots for the most part.

A big key will be learning the importance of moving and spacing, working on being a better screening team and just taking care of the ball. I think through our eight basketball games, I have been pretty pleased with the way we have been taking care of the ball. We have valued the ball. We have had a few game with high turnovers, but really Carolina is the only game where we have had a high turnover rate and have had fewer assists.

We have shared the ball and have been unselfish, we have good balance and we will have to do all of those things going into this game.

You recruited Rob Faulkner, and his play against Virginia on Monday was a surprise to some. Tell us what he adds to their team.

We recruited him early and then he had some injuries and we pulled back. We liked him because he had bounce and he is an energy guy, he was someone that I thought played with a lot of passion, and that is what he brings to the table for them.

I think right now he is settling into the role that they are looking for out of him, and that is to run the floor, guard and rebound. I don't know if he is a scoring option other than what he gets off of the backboard or transition.

What will be the best matchup on the floor?

That is hard. There was a lot made of that in the Northern Iowa game. Neal hurt us last year and he might not have made the scouting report last year, yet he is the difference in the game.

We have always been about team defense, and regardless who we match up against, it's going to be what we do defensively as a team that will make a difference or not.

ISU plays primarily zone defense; have you seen enough of your team to be comfortable with the offense against zone or man to man?

I think we have faced a lot of different things. We have faced teams that have zoned us, we have faced man, so we are pretty comfortable against either one. They have an athletic zone and they can spread it out. They are going to press us some, and we have played pressing teams already. I think we are prepared coming into this game with what we have faced this year.

We are shooting at a high rate right now and we have a good inside presence, so offensively, I like what we are doing going in.

Now defensively, we have to improve in this game and do a better job on the backboard in this game.

Can you talk about Stinson and Blaylock?

Stinson and Blaylock are very talented and they make them go. They are experienced with a lot of basketball under them, they are fierce competitors, they can do a lot of things off the bounce that make it very hard to stay in front and defend.

How has Stinson improved since last time you saw him?

That is hard, because we have not seen him since then and this is the first time we have seen him. I don't see them a lot during the year with them in a different league.

Going into our prep this year, it's similar. He is a fierce competitor and puts and awful lot of pressure on you because of what he can do off of the dribble. I think he gives you everything he has and he has been a good leader for them. Now that Sullivan is gone, the one change is that it's his team now, and his leadership has gone to another level because he has taken ownership of it.

What do you see in Homan in his game? He has become a controversial figure for some recent aggressive play; what does he bring?

He gives them a low-post presence, the way he did last year. He has hurt us a couple of times already, so we have great respect for what he can do inside. He is difficult to guard in there.

Do you talk with Adam about this game or do you let things play out?

We will spend a little bit of time. Yesterday is where the guys clear their heads, as we have finals and a lot of tests next week and papers due this week. We will talk some today, but the nice thing is that his first time against them is in our building. Those things are never easy, but I am glad this first time is in our building.

What do you need to talk to Adam about to not get too caught up in this game?

That is hard. I think a lot of it depends on the individual. He has played in eight games now, and the message we send to our guys each game is that it's not about who you play, it's about this is the next game on the schedule and we have to do what we do best and get better at it.

Sometimes that is easier said than done, when you have a history at another in state school. But he needs to relax and play and not worry about things. Hoepfully he will be able to do that.

Fans in this state have seen some entertaining games this week, between ISU-Virginia and Iowa-UNI. Do you expect a fast paced game, something the fans can enjoy?

I think this has all of the makings of being the best one yet. We both like to play up tempo, it's Iowa-Iowa State, so this should be a great contest between two teams that want this game badly. This is our ninth game in about 22 days and we know we have eight days to get ready for the next one, so I know that we are going to give it everything that we have and I know they are going to do the same. It will be a great game.

You said on the radio in Des Moines that you believe ticket price are too steep for students. At $26 dollars per game, have you taken your concerns anywhere?

I am not for sure how that is set up. I was involved four or five years ago when we established the Hawks Nest, but I have not had a lot of input since then. The Hawks Nest has been moved, and it's no longer behind the basket. I am not really in favor of that.

I could not tell you. I just know in comparison to other student ticket prices across the Big Ten, we are very high. From my standpoint, we want the best environment we can possibly get in here, and I think we are missing some of that because of where that price is.

I don't know all of the parameters of why it has to be there. I know that at $26 per ticket, if you bring a date to the game, that is $52, so that is a pretty steep ticket I think.

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