Inside Iowa Basketball with Bobby Hansen

Our resident basketball expert, former Hawkeye Star and NBA Champion Bobby Hansen, looks back at last week's games against Illinois and Purdue, and ahead to this week's action against Northwestern and Indiana. He also discusses Pierre Pierce's chances at playing in the NBA, a league Bobby knows very well, in this HN.com Premium Q&A Package.

Iowa suffered a tough loss at Illinois, but played with the type of effort it had earlier in the season. What did you take out of that game?

The same thing. When you get in that position against the No. 1 team in the counrty, you did some outstanding things. You take away form that the fact that you can hang with the No. 1 team and everybody after that when you put that type of defensive effort into the defensive end.

The perimeter defense really took them out of what they were trying to do. They forced 19 turnovers, I think a season high for Illinois. And you really had them frustrated. You proved to yourself and the national audience that was watching that hey, you play Iowa, you're going to be in for a tough game.

Pierre proved that his ability to play with anybody and his ability to score that he's a professional. He has the ability to play at that next level. He seemed to play more unselfish. I can remember some real nice passes early in the game where he broke the defense down and fed Brunner and fed Erek inside. Then late in the game, he drove and kicked it back to Jeff for a big 3-pointer.

Also what you take away from that is that we had some untimely turnovers. You clean that up then you win that basketball game. You've really got to be disciplined when it comes down the stretch in these games and you've really got to value possessions.

Had we done that, we probably would have won that basketball game. But there were good things done and it was a gutsy performance by the Hawkeyes.

There were gutsy moves by the coaching staff there late in the game in fouling Deron Williams. It was a big-time chance that they took that paid off. The kids noticed that and responded.

It seems like what you're saying about Pierre is that he's understanding the game better. He realizes that he doesn't just need to score to be an effective player.

I agree. And I said that in the broadcast. It just appears that Pierre is starting to get it, whatever "get it" is.

He doesn't have to take predetermined shots but get it in the flow of the offense. If he doesn't have it, he's going to draw so much attention on those drives that he has the ability to makes those around him better. He can get Erek Hansen some easy baskets and set up Brunner for some easier inside plays.

Defensively is where he creates that. He's a bulldog on the defensive end. The quickest hands as I've seen in a long time in college basketball. He gets steals without fouling. He picks and chooses the right moment to go for the steal.

Is there a chance of losing him after this year to the NBA or when you say he's a pro does that mean after next year?

When his time comes. But he has what the NBA looks for with his ability to get to the basket and his quickness and ability to defend.

When is for others to decide. I think he would be best served to play out all four of his years here.

Sometimes when a team loses such a heartbreaker like Iowa did at Illinois it lets down the next game. Why was Iowa able to feed off of it and slam Purdue?

I think because no one gave them a chance (at Illinois) outside of the locker room. They got behind and around the 12-minute mark they could have just folded. But they got tougher. They started to play defense better. They started to pick up some more turnovers. The shots started to drop and you could just see the hesitation on the Illinois offensive end.

The team came together, but there was major disappointment. It was an opportunity to win. It appears when they play these big games, they get up for it.

Now, you've got to go on the road against Northwestern and put forth that same type of effort and play just as smart.

Did Iowa's play against Purdue remind you more of the team you saw coming out of Maui?

Yeah. It took them awhile to get going. But you expected that.

It was the bench that came in and brought the energy. Doug Thomas, Mike Henderson and Carlton Reed and Alex really came in and gave them that lift that the starters needed.

The closeout to end the first half was impressive. We've still go to take care of the basketball a little bit better. At the start of the second half, they did that. They got them down and kept them down.

How many times did you face Gene Keady's teams?

He was there three of the years.

My impressions of Gene are that he seemed to get the most out of his players. Collectively as a team they were so much greater that the individuals they had.

Twenty five years at the same school, he's just been a rock of coaching fraternity there in the Big Ten. You can't argue with what he's done there with all the Big Ten titles and all the national coaching awards. He's going to be missed.

What are the keys to victory at Northwestern and then the keys to beating Indiana at home on Saturday?

Keys to Northwestern are that they're going to throw some junk defenses at you. You've got to be patient on offense. They're going to spread you out.

What they used against us last year, a 1-3-1 (zone), they really spread that offense out. You've got to move the ball quickly and look opposite. It's impreative that you have good offensive possessions and that you not turn it over and shoot a high percentage.

And then, rebound the basketball. You have an advantage inside. And you've got to guard their perimeter. They start hitting some threes and they're going to start playing with some confidence.

A big key is how you play defense right from the beginning and not allow anything easy. If they score baskets, great. But just don't give them anything easy. That's pretty common of any game.

If this team can take the identity of being a lock-down team, a shut-down team, you're going to be in every game you play no matter who you play.

And take care of the ball, as we talked about earlier and rebound the basketball.

How about Indiana?

Bracey Wright is the key there. You can't have Bracey go off for 30-plus.

And then inside, they've got some high jumpers and some athletic players. You've got to match their intensity. They've gotten off to a good Big Ten start.

You can't allow any confidence early for Indiana where they think they can win that game. You try to take it out of them early.


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