Hawks Survive and Advance

Iowa looked sluggish after seven days off, but did enough to top Western Carolina, 88-75, Saturday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Jeff Horner led the way with 20 points and 10 assists, while Pierre Pierce added 21 points and eight boards. Coach Steve Alford was happy with the win, but disappointed in aspects of his team's play. Read what he said about he game as well as comments from Horner, Pierce and Greg Brunner in this premium Notes & Quotes Package.

Rust: With about 1:30 left in the half, Iowa Coach Steve Alford pulled two of his starting guards from the game in disappointment. Jeff Horner and Pierre Pierce were rushing the offense, often shooting after a pass or two, and committing careless errors once the team had built a big lead.

The Hawkeyes were playing for the first time in eight days, and Western Carolina had not played nine. Both teams looked rusty in the opening 20 minutes.

The schools combined for 26 first-half turnovers. Western shot 25.8 percent from the floor, while Iowa shot 40.0.

(Half) Full House: Saturday's turnout easily represented the worst home crowd of the season for the Hawkeyes. Attendance was announced at 9,211 tickets sold.

In actuality, the arena was only about half full. Iowa finished its finals on Friday, sending the students on their holiday break. And the student section was basically empty.

The sterile atmosphere sharply contrasted last Friday's Iowa-Iowa State game, which excited many of the football recruits in the house. Saturday's recruits looked stoic.

Diamond in the Rough: Iowa students targeted Catamount point guard Kyle Greathouse for heckling. The junior from Ohio resembled Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on the TV show Saved by the bell.

Whenever Greathouse touched the ball, hollers of "Screech" would fly out of the stands. It proved easily noticeable in such a quiet environment.

Tip-Ins: Former Hawkeye Vince Brookins took in the game from behind the Iowa bench…Iowa started the game on a run 22-3…Western scored its first points at the 15:31 mark of the first half on a jump hook by David Berghoefer…The Catamounts outscored the home team 20-8 eight minutes of the opening half…Iowa quarterback Drew Tate appeared as the halftime guest on the Iowa Radio Network…Pierce picked up his third foul early in the second half and was pulled from the game…Iowa went on a 20-9 run with Pierce on the bench. Horner scored 15 points in the spurt as Iowa grabbed a 63-40 advantage with 11:00 to go in the game. Horner hit a 3-pointer from about 25-feet and also contributed a remarkable reverse lay-up in heavy traffic…Doug Thomas again struggled with foul trouble, committing four in just 10 minutes. He had missed two practices this week due to illness.


Steve Alford

Opening Statement: This was a finals exam type of game. We didn't look as sharp mentally as I would have hoped. Very similar to our game down in Dallas against Texas Tech last year, we missed a lot of free throws, a lot of lay-ups, didn't finish things offensively, and just didn't get the job done defensively through a 40-minute game.

Both teams really played hard. Our captains got us off to a good start then were really bad from the 10-minute mark on in the first half. All three really responded well in the second half. That really helped us.

It was another game where we really got dominated on bench play. That's going to be be the key here as we move forward is just how much our bench can assist us a little bit. That starting unit is giving us just about everything that we can ask for.


What did you say at halftime?

I was just upset because I thought that we played the scoreboard. It's 24-5 or 22-3, and there's eight minutes to go in the first half. They've got five points with eight minutes to go in the first half. That's a great start. That's very good defense.

Then, we turn the ball over carelessly. We didn't make free throws. That could have really got stretched to where 22-3 sounds bad but it could have easily been 30-3 of we make free throws.

I was just disappointed in you've got a team down that badly early and you can't put them away.

You've got to give them credit for hanging in there and fighting and making a game out of it there in the first half. But it had a awful lot to do with us not executing what we want to do offensively.

Did that surprise you based on what you saw in practice this week?

The practices have been good, but we've had guys out sick. We've had the finals going on. It was a good week of practice, but practice still isn't...it's kind of the two fold. You have nine games in 22 days then you have no games through eight. We kind of felt that today.

But in the same manner, we shoot 51 percent from the field. The free throw line is what's inexcusable. It's a hard one for me to figure out. I made a living shooting that thing. It's the easiest shot I've ever shot in my life other than an uncontested lay-up. It's really hard for me to stomach at times.

You've got to shoot the free throw better than this if you're going to win tight Big Ten games. And there's going to be a lot of tight Big Ten games.

The reverse layup, have you seen Jeff take that shot?

No, that was different. He's so tough. And he's a fierce competitor. He got a little frustrated in the first half. The way that he responded in the second half is what we get from him just about every day. That's including practice.

He put us on his shoulders there when Pierre got in early second half foul trouble. Then Pierre was brilliant when he came back. Bru did a nice job of fighting through a game where he ended up not getting a lot of touches.

Has it gotten to the point now where you're surprised if he doesn't make that 3-pointer?

Nah, he's just shooting the ball really well. He's a lot like Adam. But Adam doesn't make his free throws tonight either.

They're just two very good shooters and you kind of expect it to go in. But there's obviously going to be nights when it doesn't go in. The thing that I like about Jeff is that even if that thing is not going in he can beat you in other ways.

It kind of looked like you snapped at Horner when you took him out with about 3 minutes to go in the first half.

Oh, I did more than snap at Jeff and Pierre. I've praised them an awful lot. Those three captains are the reason why we're out to this kind of start. They've been phenominal leaders.

I did not like the play that we had from about the eight minute mark on and a lot of that had to do with those two. Sometimes you have to send that message even to your best players. They needed to see that message sent to them. They responded in the second half the way that I'd hoped they'd respond.

How disappointed are you in Doug's play?

Doug has been overwhelmed and he was sick. He missed two practices this week. He had IVs in him as late as this morning. He hadn't eaten in three days.

He was off rhythm tonight. We've just got hope now that the semester is over we get him healthy and we get him playing in rhythm.

We've got to do that with all of the freshmen. Alex turned the corner and did some good things tonight.

We've just got to have that production coming from the bench. And the bench is young. It's very inexperienced. Right now, those starters are carrying us. But we've got to have one or two guys step up from bench play and we've got to hope that Doug is going to be one of those guys.


Greg Brunner

What happened there the last eight minutes of the first half?

I couldn't tell you to be honest. We started playing selfish and sloppy. We had a week off. We've been playing very well in practice. Things went well at the beginning of the game. Them some of us started going the other way and everyone started going off on their own tangent and doing their own thing.

How important were the first few minutes of the second half?

It was very important. They made a huge run in the first half. We came out and took care of that right away and jumped right back on them and never let up.

Did coach get on you guys at halftime?

Oh, there were some words exchanged. There was a pretty good spiel going on in there. We all took it to heart.

He got on the three captains because he felt that we were the instigators of the whole thing, rightfully so, though.


Pierre Pierce

What happened there in the last eight minutes of the first half?

We started playing the scoreboard a little too much; got lackidaisical. I had four turnovers in the first half. That wasn't very good.

They made a run. They did a good job of competing tonight. We got it together at halftime.

Did you guys feel a little sluggish after not playing for eight days?

We came out pretty good. After that, we kind of fell off. But it was good to get this game underneath our belt going into Tuesday now, Texas Tech. They're going to be hungry now. They lost to Ohio State.

Can you take anything out of a game like this?

It's something that we need to work on and mature as a basketball club and try to be consistent regardless of who we're playing.

Did you teach Jeff that reverse lay-up?

I don't know where he got that from. (laughs) It was an excellent shot. It went in. It was great move.


Jeff Horner

Can you recap things?

We started off really well, and then we had a letdown. If that happens against Illinois or Michigan State, that might be a different story in the end. We've got to sure up our defense. We can't have letdowns like that.

When things started going bad, what happened?

I don't really know. The subs came in and gave us a great run. We came back in and it seemed like we couldn't get a stop. They shot 24 percent in the first half and they were only down by seven.

We played pretty good defense. We just had a mental lapse somewhere else. In the second half, we picked it up a little bit and got the cushion that we should have.

Did you catch Greathouse pumping his fist after his 3-pointers because you answered every time?

I didn't see him do it. I just knew that the three captains need to step up a little bit.

What do you call that reverese over the shoulder lay-up?

I was hoping for a foul. I went in and tried to draw some contact and just kind of threw it up there and turned around and it went in. Thank god it went in otherwise I might have been sitting next to coach.

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