Alford: 'Our Guys Gave 'Big Time' Effort

HawkeyeNation.com's Men's Basketball expert Bobby Hansen spoke with Iowa coach Steve Alford after the Hawkeyes overtime loss at Illinois on Thursday. Hansen, the color commentator on Learfield's Iowa Radio Network broadcasts, spoke with Alford about Iowa's gutty effort against the top ranked team in America.

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The following is from Learfield's Iowa Radio Network broadcast following the Iowa-Illinois game.

BOBBY HANSEN: What a gutsy performance by your team tonight. You left everything out there on the court and your team came up a little bit short. What are your thoughts on this game?

STEVE ALFORD: Well, I thought that our guys gave a big time effort, and that is the effort that we have to bottle. For the most part, other than one week out of the season, that is the effort that our guys have given, and I am so proud of them.

That is the most turnovers that Illinois has had all year. I thought that we were terrific defensively; we held them to 32 percent shooting on their home court…We did a lot right, but when one team gets 31 free throws and the other team gets 12, that is hard to overcome. We did not shoot the foul shot well, but six points for us at the line compared to 23 for them; that is a hard stat to overcome.

HANSEN: That was a gutsy move at the end of regulation where you fouled Deron Williams when you were down by three points, and he missed both of them.

ALFORD: The clock was so close that I was afraid if they ran it all the way down, there was only a five to seven second differential. So if they run it all the way down, if they score, then we are in trouble. If they score, it's over anyway and then we have little time left. Even if they went up five, if we fouled, we can come back and get a quick shot and continue the foul process. If they don't score, we have seven seconds to go down and get a three. I felt like our best option was to foul based on the clock.

HANSEN: The start of the game was one of the keys and you weathered the storm. The turning point in the second half was when you were down by 13 and you went on an 18-5 run to tie it at 52-52.

ALFORD: I think our guys battled. They never lost focus on what we wanted to do. We shot 50 percent in the second half. We come in here to a great environment; this is the way that college basketball should be. Everyone was dressed in orange and the students circle the floor; it does not get any better than this. We turned the ball over too much, and our guards turned it over way too much. We got in foul trouble with Adam, but I thought Carlton came off of the bench and gave us great energy. I felt that Doug gave us great defense, as well as he has played since he has been here.

I felt we did a lot of good things, but now we have a quick turnaround with a very aggressive Purdue team.

HANSEN: Talk about your defensive effort. You knew coming in that you had to neutralize their guards and Deron had just four points tonight. I thought your perimeter defense was fantastic.

ALFORD: I did, too. Again, I think it does not get talked about enough, but Pierre was matched against Deron. Then he is matched against their best defensive player in (Luther) Head and he has 22 points, five assists and two steals and he holds Williams to probably a season low four points. Pierre does that. I thought that Adam and Cartlon really defended and in spurts, I thought Jeff was pretty good. So defensively, I felt that we did everything that we wanted to do in the game, but we just came up a little short in the end.

HANSEN: This has to be a confidence booster that you can play with the top ranked team in the nation and you had your opportunities to beat them. 1-3 is not the way you wanted to start the Big Ten, but in a week from now, you can be back above .500.

ALFORD: That has to be our focus, Bobby. We know we have a difficult task because of scheduling. Being able to play a national TV game is great, but now we have to turn around and play against one of the tougher teams in our league in Purdue, at 1:30. They have had two more days rest than us, we are a little banged up, and Pierre had Charlie horses the entire second half and played all 45 minutes.

We have to do a good job of getting our guys rest tonight; all day tomorrow and we will need a lot of energy from our crowd, to be honest with you. That is what you need at home. I said it before; this is a very good team and they do a lot of great things and they give everything they have. We are 13-4 and we are nationally ranked, and if we win on Saturday, we will still be nationally ranked going into next week and a chance to get on a roll. This is a very pivotal game for us.


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