Horner Talks About Troubled Times

Iowa co-captain Jeff Horner spoke with the media Thursday, a day after teammate Pierre Pierce was kicked off of the Hawkeyes. Horner cautions people that are placing the blame for Pierce's actions on Coach Steve Alford: "Coach can't be with us all the time. That's how it is. We have to make choices. We're 21-year-old kids. We should be old enough to make good choices."

JEFF HORNER

What was your reaction when you found out Pierre was dismissed?

We kind of felt it was coming. Pierre knows that he made a bad decision.

I've been playing with him for two and a half years and been with him off the court. I know he knows that he let the team down.

it's just a bad incident for everybody.

Have you talked to him?

No I haven't. I tried calling him a couple of times. I'm sure he's just feeling down right now. I'm sure he's not going to answer a lot of people's phone calls for awhile.

I'll just keeep trying to get ahold of him and see what happens.

Do you feel betrayed at all?

I wouldn't say betrayed. It's just tough because he's been your teammate for the last two or three years. Everyone thought that this was going to be our year then this happens.

It's just tough to take. We've just got to go from here. Mike Henderson, Carlton Reed are going to have to step up and play big minutes.

You know, we've been in this situation the past two or three years. So, it's nothing new to Greg and I. We've just got to get through it.

Now, Greg and I are juniors. We're not freshmen and sophomores anymore. We're just going to have to step up.

You guys and coach put a lot of trust in him to make him one of the tri-captains. Had something changed with Pierre or did this just come out of the blue?

It did kind of come out of the blue. We were all shocked. Nobody found out until, I think, either Sunday or Monday. All of a sudden it just comes down on everybody. Nobody could believe it.

Pierre is a very quiet person when it comes to being around here. For him to go do that, it's tough to take. Everyone is just shocked.

I talked to my dad about it a couple of times. He just says hang in there. It's going to be like the last couple of years, but it's just something we've got to deal with.

How did you find out?

Monday morning I think coach called me in or maybe Monday afternoon. I can't even remember. He just said that all of this stuff was going on and just to hang tight.

Will you have to look for your shot a little bit more now?

Definitely. Everybody's role increases. I'm going to have to not really force things but just look to shoot a little bit more and be a little bit more of a playmaker so I can get my teammaets open shots.

Hopefully we can get Carlton and Mike going early, Adam, too, with that ankle injury. They can just build on the confidence.

You guys faced an uphill climb in the Big Ten anyway. How much tougher does this make it?

I tell you, I wish we could have those four games back that we lost. Now that you lose one of your best players, your best defender, we're just going to have to keep fighting.

We pulled off a record last year of 9-7. We've got three pretty big games. We've got Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, that we're going to have to win at least one or two of those.

You can't let down. My freshman year we beat Michigan State in here. It's going to be an uphill battle. Hopefully everyone is prepared for a war.

How does this change your team defensively?

Now you bring in Mikey. He's a great on-ball defender. He can be a good off-of-the-ball defender. He just needs to get a little bit more playing time. Hopefully he can develop into that defensive stopper role that Pierre was. Everyone else is just goign to have to pick up their defensive roles a lot more. We'll definitely have to pick up the slack with rebounding, too, because he's a very good rebounding guard.

Are you more of a perimeter team now with Pierre not here to slash to the basket?

I don't know about that. I just say we go out and play basketball. We go out and do what we do.

I'll tell you right now that I'm going to start taking the ball to the basket a lot more. Hopefully that will free things up for other people. Adam is going to have to learn to cut a lot better. Everyone is just going to have to pick up their game a little bit.

Mikey is going to have to get in the lane and find open people. Carlton is going to have to make plays. Bru just needs to keep doing what he's doing. He's doing a good job.

Can you even think about Michigan State with all of this stuff swirling?

It's tough. But last year we lost Mikey and DeWitz and we had a game the next day at Illinois. The game is going to be played no matter what.

All of this stuff coming down is just a shock to our team. We've just got to come out and play basketball.

How taxing is it to have to deal with things year after year?

It's tough. And a lot of people put the blame on coach. Coach can't be with us 24 hours a day. You can't put that kind of blame on him.

I know he gave Pierre a second chance. I do think a lot of people deserve second chances. Pierre made a bad choice. Coach did what he had to do.

People that didn't like the decision the first time should stick up for him this time. Coach can't be with us all the time. That's how it is.

We have to make choices. We're 21-year-old kids. We should be old enough to make good choices.

How are Coach Alford's emotions been the last few days?

It's tough. With what he went through with Pierre that first time, he stuck his neck out on the line for him.

Pierre knew that. And Pierre feels worse out of anybody letting coach down.

Coach has been down. But it's expected. Coach is going to come out here and compete. He's a competitor. He wants to win Saturday. He wants to do well in the Big Ten.

That's how our team is. We're just going to keep fighting.

Coach said he just wants you guys to relax and play. Is that something you can Greg can help with, and is that going to be possible?

When Greg and I were freshmen we came in here and we did the job. You look at Mike Henderson, he's a sophomore. Doug Thomas is a junior college transfer. He's been playing. Erek Hansen has been playing.

So, it's not like we're stuck with five freshmen like we were my freshman year. We're just going to come out ready to play. Whether we'll be relaxed or not, that's another question. We've just got to out and play and not worry about anything.


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