What do you think about the possibility of moving the 3-point line back?
I'd rather have it extended just because If you ever play at the next level all of the lines are extended, too.
In the UNI and Iowa State games, you guys had decent sized second-half leads that went away. Is there anything similar that happened in those two games?
If you look at those two games, they're instate games. They're almost kind of different in a sense even though they're not supposed to be. You can learn a lot from that. When we have a lead, learn how to play with it and take good shots when we have that kind of lead.
Do you think you guys maybe did take some bad shots?
We probably rushed a few things. I'm not sure even who it was.
In state games tend to make it, what, more emotional or maybe not as clear thinking?
Yeah. It always seems like Iowa teams plays really hard. You get two teams going at each other. UNI is a good 3-point shooting team, and that's kind of what got them back into it. We have to learn from it and be happy that we have those two wins.
What do you remember about playing in the United Center?
All I remember is that we lost the game (2003, against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament). I think it was on a last second shot, too. We're looking forward to going back there. But the biggest thing is that we got beat last year by Texas Tech. That's what we're looking forward to.
You're going to the Bulls game the night before you game. Have you watched (Kirk) Hinrich a lot and kind of molded you game after his?
Oh yeah. Jack Brownlee and I watch him a lot. We played on the same AAU team. We try to see what he does. It's fun to watch him play because he plays so hard. Obviously, he's probably a lot faster than I am. I wish I had that part of his game right now.
How important were the days off over break?
It was big. We have some guys that are sick right now. We just had to get them better. We're just happy to be sitting at 8-1 right now.
Do you talk to some of the newcomers and freshmen about some of the mistakes that you've made to help them learn?
We're all pretty close. The only thing we do is we go to the learning center. We come back to the gym and shoot late at night. I definitley don't think any of those guys will run into the problem.
Are anticipating being academically OK?
Oh yeah. I'm fine. I'll be fine this semester. I've really stayed on top of my books all fall. I put my books before even basketball and everything. I definitely don't think academic problems will be a problem.
Has coach talked to you about this being a critical point of the season with what you guys have set yourselves up to accomplish?
We've got a think we're going by this year called "Hold the Rope." That's just basically holding every individual accountable to your part. That's with academics, on the court, off the court issues. We all just took a part into that this year. Everybody is holding theirself accountable, trying to come to places on time, things like that; just trying to be responsible.
Are you looking forward to playing in the United Center?
Definitely. I've never played there before. That's a legendary place. You're talking about Jordan and all the other great stars that ever played there. It's like going to the New York Knicks, a place like that.
It's OK that it's your home game but it's not (in Carver-Hawkeye)?
Yeah. It's a neutral site. We're going back to the native place of people like Pierre. It's always a lot of fun going back to somebody's hometown. I've got family there. Really, everybody on the team has a lot of family members there. We'll have a nice crowd supporting us. We're just ready to go down there and compete and enjoy the time that we're there.
Not to say that you guys squandered a lead, but UNI and Iowa State were able to catch up in the second half and make it a nailbiter. Is there anything in the last few minutes of those gams that you guys could have done better?
We started playing not to lose instead of keep doing what we were doing that got us to that point. We get a little stagnant on the offensive end. But the most important thing is that when they made their runs, they never took the lead. As a ballclub, that says a lot about us.
Is there anything you guys can do better to try to stop them?
We have to concentrate toward the end. We have come out a lot better than what we have in the past. We have to concentrate more down the stretch and know that teams are going to try to get back into the game. We have to put it away.
Are some of those time management issues?
You could say that. We do situations in practice like that, but once you get in a game it's a little different. Quick shots might hurt. A quick turnover here or there might hurt. That;s something that we need to continue to work on.
Is it different going into the United Center than it is Northwestern?
Definitely. That's where the Chicago Bulls of the NBA play. It will be a big crowd. Texas Tech, a Bob Knight team, always bring a lot of people to the game. It's going to be a good environment. They got us last year. There's a little revenge factor on our side.
Were you a big Bulls fan?
Yeah, definitely. Who wasn't coming from the Chicago area? I love the Bulls. Now I'm not too much of a fan like I used to be.
Michael Jordan left. No Jordan. No Bulls.
You said awhile back that you went to some of those games.
I went to a couple once they started to climb. I didn't go to too many after that. It was a tough ticket to get back in the day.
What did you like about the Bulls?
Just the way that they shared the ball. Michael was able to take over anytime. They were able to beat teams day in and day out. That's one thing we've got to work on is just continuing to do things the right way all of the time. We're showing strides, but we haven't peaked yet.
Have you ever met him?
Nah. I've never met him.
So, Bobby Hansen is the only Bull you know?
Yeah (laughs). And I know Eddy Curry.
Does Hansen talk to you or talk to the guys about the NBA?
He doesn't mention it too much. We don't ask, and he doesn't bring it up.
How about academics? You've been here for four years, so I'm guessing you're fairly established.
Yeah. This is the first time that I've had finals week off. All of my finals were last week. With two games, it was tough on me last week. The freshmen, I've just been trying to tell them to concentrate. It's a tough stretch. It's fortunate that we haven't had games during this time.
You guys have some pretty high stakes, potentially, this year. Has the coach given any speeches saying not to mess it up?
He doesn't have to give that speech. We already know. We know what's at risk. We know what we have to do on the court, off the court.
Do anticipate you guys being a little rusty on Saturday?
I don't think so. We're going to be excited. We needed some rest. We'll be excited to come out and play against somebody else. If we do, it might be early. But we'll work that off.