IZZONE WEST: For the third time in four weeks, the opposition was represented by a sizeable student section. Michigan State's well-known Izzone was seated in Section I and held about 200 fans.
Before the game, members of the Izzone walked up and down the isles of the arena to make their presence felt. They were very audible and organized with chants throughout the game.
TRIBUTE: In association with the Coaches vs. Cancer Awareness Weekend, the Iowa and Michigan State wore sneakers. The Hawkeyes sported long-sleeve golf shirts or sweats and black pants. The Spartan staff donned suits and sneakers.
Apprently, Michigan State also brought three busloads of additional fans.
IZZO DEFENDS ALFORD: MSU Coach Tom Izzo opened his postgame press conference by coming to the defense of Hawkeye Coach Steve Alford. Izzo explained to the Iowa media how tough it is to lose players and how tough it is for Alford to lose players every year.
TIP-INS: Iowa Defensive Coordinator Norm Parker attended the game…Former Hawkeye great Acie Earl took in the game from behind the Iowa bench…Mike Henderson, Pierre Pierce's replacement in the Hawkeye starting line-up, received maybe the loudest applause of any of the Iowa first-teamers…Greg Brunner easily bested Paul Davis for the opening tip…Jeff Horner stuck with his dark socks, dark shoes look he began last Saturday…Brunner picked up two fouls in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the game and was replaced by Doug Thomas. Steve Alford brought Brunner back at the 8:22 mark and Iowa trailing 16-13. MSU went on a 8-0 run. Brunner picked up his third foul a with 3:35 to play before the intermission…Former Hawkeye Tim Dwight sat in the row reserved for recruits in December. He entered the arena on crutches. His right foot was in a boot…Carlton Reed was the seventh man for Iowa replacing Henderson. Alex Thompson was next in the rotation checking in for Erek Hansen…MSU's Shannon Brown was tagged with a technical after taunting Jeff Horner following a dunk. Spartan Coach Tom Izzo let Brown know that he was unhappy with the decision…Brunner and Hansen combined to play 17 minutes in the first half without getting a rebound…The Hawkeyes shot 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) from the floor in the first half. Michigan State bothered the Hawkeyes with fullcourt pressure and switching between man-to-man and zone defense…MSU held a 22-8 points-in-the-paint advantage at the break…Iowa DE Derreck Robinson sat behind the Michigan State bench. He attended the same Minneapolis High school that Spartan forward Alan Anderson did…After Brunner picked up his fourth at the 9:05 mark, Iowa's lineup included Henderson, Horner, Haluska, Reed and Thomas…The Reed-Henderson Waterloo combination didn't score until Henderson canned two fouls shots at the 7:36 mark of the second half…After Erek Hansen fouled out in the second half, Iowa student embarrassingly chanted F-U (except they said the words) Eddie at official Ed Hightower. Hightower didn't even make the call. Zelton Sneed did…
Opening Statement: Our guys really fought. In coaching, you always like to see the effort, and the effort was really there. They battled, we just had our worst shooting night of the year.
You've got to give Michigan State a lot of credit for that with their defense, their relentless pressure. We just missed a lot of shots. We shoot 76 percent from the line. We get there 42 times. That might be the most all year.
Their staple has always been board play, and we get more offensive rebounds than they do. We just did a lot of good things. We turned the ball over eight times. That's tremendous. Our halfcourt defense was tremendous. We took a lot of things away. We battled.
This is just the 10th-ranked team in the country. And you can't shoot 28 percent with kind of a new team, like we've got, and probably win a lot of games.
But other than the shooting, our guys were really good tonight.
What did you do in the last 10 minutes that you didn't do in the first 30?
Not much of an adjustment from the sideline. It was just the players making the adjustments. We've got guys doing...
Mike Henderson plays the most minutes he's ever played in his career at the collegiate level. He doesn't shoot the ball well, but he plays 33 minutes without a turnover. That's good. He defended very well.
It was just guys trying to figure things out in life without Pierre. You've got a guy out there that's your best defender; your 18 points, five rebounds, five assists a night. All of a sudden he's gone, No. 10 comes in. It might take some time.
I've got to be patient with them. We told them that a few years ago we lost Recker and Hogan, our two best shooters, in a week's time and we go 1-7 and then we win the Big Ten Tournament.
We've got eight games left. I said, we're not going 1-7. This team is better than what that team was at that point. We're going to figure this thing out. You guys gave great effort tonight. You keep this effort here we're going to be fine. There's not going to be a lot of nights we shoot 28 percent.
We've just got to move on now and get back to work Monday. If they'll give this kind of effort, it's going to be fun the last eight.
How much of your offensive problems was their defense and how much was it you guys making the adjustment and trying to find shots?
It's a combination. They're a very good defensive team. They put a lot of pressure on you. They're very deep.
You can look at bench points, but 28 of their 33 bench points are out of seniors. We don't have seniors coming off our bench. We don't have that luxury. We've got freshmen and first-year guys coming off our bench. That's a little bit misleading in my mind.
They're just very good defensively. And then trying to, you know, you've got Mike out there with a new whole role for him. Alex is getting more minutes now. Carlton is getting more minutes. I would imagine those guys, as tough as they are, were a little bit uptight.
We tried to do everything we could to loosen them up, but that's easier said than done until you go through it.This has been our best crowd of the year as far as volume and numbers, so it was a big stage for them. Everything that's gone on this week, that's a huge stage for a young guy.
We had a lot of inexperience on the floor. The only way that becomes more experienced is get them some more playing time. They know they're going to get that.
Brunner's two early fouls, did that hurt?
Yeah. That hurt. That got us out of balance with how we were going to sub. Erek gets in trouble again. There's a lot of pressure on that junior class.
Bru responded very well in the second half, but fouled out and hurt us. We had to go small. We haven't had to play small ball all year. That's something we're going to have to spend more practice time on.
Erek's biggest stat line was fouls. We've got to shake him loose from that. He's got to give us more than no rebounds in 14 minutes. He knows that. He's working hard at it. But that production has got to get better.
There were a couple of times where it seemed like Jeff and Adam might have rushed shots when you guys were back in the game. Is that just too keyed up?
Probably. And the times that you're talking about, Adam and Jeff took ill-advised, tough shots during that stretch. But, Adam and Jeff had an awful lot to do with us making plays down the stretch.
You know with Jeff, if that's a block call instead of a charge call we're going to the line down three, best foul shooter there, it could be two. It was awfully close. The thing that I appreciate is they're down 20 with probably 15 minutes to go and with two minutes to go it's a one possession game.
I appreciate that fight with what they've been through. As I told them, I hope you can draw some confidence out of this. This is a very good basketball team. This is easily the second best team in our league. Wisconsin is probably right there, too. And we've got to play them both back to back.
This is a very difficult stretch for them to play of the top three teams we're playing two of them in succession with losing arguably our best player.
You talked about the crowd. Can you talk about your students' chant towards Ed Hightower?
It's rediculous. I'm not in charge of that. Obviously we can't be in charge of kids' actions.
But that was absolutely uncalled for. And it was the best crowd we've had all year as far volume.
All I can tell you what I did about it was I apologized to Mr. Hightower. That's not what college basketball should be about. And that's not the way fans or students should behave.
You seem very encouraged.
I am because I know I've got great kids. I wouldn't be encouraged if we got down 20 and lost by 30. That would be disheartening.
But to see a team get down 20 and battle back the way they did and really have a chance there at the end...they're very frustrated. Theyre down. They hurt. That's the way this team's been.
I just tried to be as positive as I could with them. It's going to get better. We're going to get better guys.
We've got to learn how to play differently now. But you took a step forward. Whether you believe it or not, this was a step forward. You've just got to keep getting better.
It was a tough start, but you guys made a heck of a comeback.
It was a rough start. This team is just trying to find their roles, especially with Pierre gone. That's a big part of our offense and defense that we're missing.
The second half, we really picked it up. It was a poor shooting night.
The lack of his quickness is that what upset the offense for Iowa?
He created for a lot of people, myself included. And Jeff really fed off of him. Pierre did a lot of good things for this team.
A lot of guys are just going to have to find their role. It's going to change a little bit. We're going to work at it and we're going to keep getting better.
You got down 22 and you came back.
Yeah. The team is always going to give tremendous effort. That's the way that Iowa basketball is played. We're going to go out there and give a gutty performance night in and night out.
What are some of the things that Mike Henderson and Carlton Reed mayhave done that didn't show up in the box score?
Mike and Carlton did a great job of stepping up, especially with the pressure they had on them. Defensively, they did a great job, tremendous effort. There were a couple of times when Mikey was in there getting offensive rebounds. Those are things that go unnoticed, but they're out there fighting and scrapping.
Their role is really going to have to change. A lot more minutes will be coming there way.
Now that you've played a game, does that somewhat clear the air and you can move on now?
It's good to get it over with. It was a really rough week. This team is going to move on. Pierre, we wish him the best.
But I have a lot of great expectations for this team. I know the coaching staff does, too. We're still looking to get to the NCAA Tournament. We've got a lot of lofty goals.
Could you talk about first half and how you guys were able to turn it around?
We actually started pretty fast and then we kind of wore down. They took that 12-point lead into half and they came out and took it to us.
We fought back for like the last 16 minutes, but 20 points is a lot of points to make up in less than one half. Unfortunately, we just fell short at the end.
Without Pierre, were you trying to find a balance, trying to find the offense there for awhile?
We had a lot of open shots. Me personally, I did, too. They didn't fall down today. Hopefully in the future they will.
I just think that we're trying to find each other right now. Hopefully that last 16 minutes we can carry it on to the next game.
Coach seemed encouraged after the game but he said you guys were down. How are you feeling?
We don't like to lose games. That's the main point. We lost the game today.
It's just tough to lose a game like that at the end where you've got a chance. If a few calls go here or there, we might have had it. But that's just the way the game's played. Now we have to prepare for Wisconsin.
It it kind of a relief just to have this one over after this week?
A little bit. I just wanted to get out there and play. A lot of my teammates did, too.
We did a good job the last 16 minutes. Now we're getting a little bit of a feel for each other. Hopefully we can carry it on.
How about the crowd?
The fans were awesome. They were loud today. They filled it up. We had a couple of Michigan State fans there. But that was the best crowd we've had all year. Hopefully they keep coming back.
What was it like being out there without Pierre?
I thought that I tried to force some things a little bit too much. You can probably tell by the shooting percentage.
But I'm going to keep continuing to take shots. Hopefully they fall.
Pierre creates for a lot of people. When he had his great assists-to-turnover ratio, we were pretty good. Now we've got to find somebody to replace him. Mike Henderson and Carlton did a good job today.
Could you talk a little bit more about Mike's play?
Mike played very well defensively, took care of the basketball. He's just got to learn that when he gets in the lane to go up strong. But he's going to be fine. This is the first time he's played a lot of minutes like that.
Are you guys ready to move on now?
Yeah. It's good to get this one out of the way. It's tough when you lose one of your best players and then you've got to play the 10th ranked team in the country. Hopefully we can get over that and move on to Wisconsin.