Back in the Saddle

With an emotional week behind them, the Iowa basketball players look forward to a trip to Wisconsin this Wednesday in hopes of earning a much-needed Big Ten win. Greg Brunner and Adam Haluska met with the media on Monday to discuss new roles, their NCAA Tournament outlook and much more in this HN.com Premium Q&A Package.

GREG BRUNNER

Have you looked at Wisconsin much on tape?

No. Yesterday was out day off. Everybody just kind of stayed out of the gym and just relaxed and got away from it for a day.

So, you had a chance to clear your heads and recharge the batteries?

Days off are days when you can catch up on sleep and homework. We're ready to go into Wisconsin. We've always played well up there. They're a great program. They play unselfishly and do whatever they can to win.

How many games do you guys have to win to get to the NCAA Tournament?

I wish I knew. It's not really up to us. We're just going to win as many as we can. Hopefully that's enough to get us there.

Is that something being talked about right now or are you just focusing in on who's next?

We're just focusing on who's next. We almost took out the No. 10 team in the nation. We're still there. We've just got to keep it going. We've got to pick it up.

I've got to stay out of foul trouble. I can't really help the team if I'm sitting on the bench.

What can you do to stay out of foul trouble?

I don't know. It was just one game where I had foul trouble. Early in the season it was kind of plaguing me, but other than that it's just been that it's just been this one game.

You can't get in foul trouble now. Before you could because you had one extra player.

Exactly. When I was out of the game, we only had one captain on the floor. It puts a lot of pressure on Jeff. He handled it well. It was just on of those inconveniences for Jeff. It's not very nice to not have two of your vital players not be there for you.

With Pierre's absence, what's Adam going to have to do differently now?

Everybody has to pick up the slack. Everybody has to do things that they're not accustomed to doing.

Adam, like you saw, he hadn't attacked the basket like that all season. He did a great job. It was probably his best game of the year, offensively. He was just very aggressive and he took the ball to the hoop.

One of the biggest goals coming into the season was getting to the NCAA Tournament. Are you getting nervous that it might slip away?

No. We still have nine or eight games left, and we've got three games in the Big Ten Tournament.

We're at 15 wins right now. Hopefully we can get enough just to get in. We'll be fine. We've got a great team. Hopefully we can get on a run here. We've been saying that a couple of times now.

Do the bigs need to do anything differently with Pierre gone?

The previous three or four games, I've played a little bit too much on the outside. The coaches have really harped on me to getting back on the inside.

I did a pretty good job of that the last game, especially in the last 10 minutes. That's where my strength is. Now, I definitely have to play more on the inside.

How frustrated is Erek Hansen right now?

He's fine. He's very competitive. He's always looking at things that he can improve on. He's going to be fine.

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ADAM HALUSKA

With Pierre gone, how does your role change?

I'm just going to have to step it up defensively. P usually took the best offensive player on the opposing team.

Ofensively, there's a lot more shots out there. Jeff is going to have to step it up along with Carlton and Mikey.

It's a big part to lose Pierre in the offense and defense. Everybody is just going to have to pick up the pieces a little bit and get the ball rolling here.

Did you find yourself being a little bit more aggressive offensively?

I shot a little bit more on Saturday, but we weren't getting many looks. You take Bru out of the inside. We weren't getting too many looks or chances to put the ball in the hole.

Jeff and I took some shots that we probably wouldn't have normally taken. Our shot selection wasn't that good. But shots just weren't falling. We were trying to get the ball in the hole any way we could. It was a poor shooting night.

Wisconsin is tough defensively. Do you try to change some things?

We'll get good looks. Carlton and Mikey are going to knock down some shots, too. I just think as a team we didn't shoot the ball well at all. Our offense will be alright.

Do you think Carlton and Mike were nervous?

A little bit. A lot of people kind of put some pressure on them just stepping into Pierre's role.

But they're not Pierre. They're going to do whatever it takes for them to be successful and for our team to be successful. They'll get better with each game.

Are you OK physically after not playing last season? Are you hitting a wall?

I'm fine. I'm not really tired at all. My body is hanging in there. I just have to make sure I keep my ankle healthy.

We've got a lot of season left, and hopefully a lot more once tournament time comes around. I'm excited with the way that this team in the second half the other day. We have a lot of expections and a lot of potential to do well.

Now that you've played half a Big Ten season, how does this conference compare with the Big 12?

The Big Ten might be a little more gritty. In the Big 12, we played a lot of teams that scored a lot of points.

The Big Ten is physical. I've seen it already. And that's what I expect.


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