Penn State Postgame: Coach Alford, Brunner

The Hawkeyes bounced back from a heartbreaking loss at Minnesota with a 78-56 whitewash at lowly Penn State on Saturday. Hawkeye Radio Network Color Man and HN.com Basketball Expert Bobby Hansen spoke with head coach Steve Alford and power forward Greg Brunner about the victory. "The kids, they get all of the credit," Alford said. "They've worked hard all year. They put it all together today. They did a lot of good things, and I'm very happy for them."

STEVE ALFORD

Congratulations. It's been a while coming, but it's got to feel good to get that first road win.

It really does. And the kids, they get all of the credit. They've worked hard all year.

We've had a couple of tough breaks; a couple of tough overtime losses. They put it all together today. They did a lot of good things, and I'm very happy for them.

One of the keys that I heard you talk about in practice (Friday) was to run; to get your fastbreak going. You were able to do that with 22 fastbreak points tonight.

Well, we just wanted them to get out and have some fun and get into transition and get into the open floor. Then, the second point was that we're playing a very young Penn State team late in the year. They haven't won a lot of games.

We felt like we could wear them down by pressing some and doing some transition game. In a close game, they might be wore down a little bit.

Fortunately, it ended up not being close game. But the transition game was very efficient in the first half.

Your three stars really came to play. The quick start was fueled by Horner and Haluska and Greg Brunner's rebounding certainly carried the Hawkeyes this afternoon.

Those three did a lot of good things. Bru ends up getting his career high in rebounds. He's going up against the Big Ten rebounding leader in Aaron Johnson who got seven. (Brunner) made a name. Now, he's got win one week to try to win that title.

Jeff was really good. He started us off. He got us in things. He did a good job of floor leadership.

And then Adam really made plays. He took what people gave him and he made shots.

You were able to play a lot of players.

Jack was really good. Jack came in for Mike and gave us a big lift. He was active defensively. He had a couple of steals and deflections. He distributed the ball well.

Seth ends up going 3 for 3. He ran the floor for a transition basket. He did a lot of good things.

J.R. hadn't played a lot so he's out of rhythm. But he went in there and battled in the minutes that he had.

Jeff Horner is sitting at 999 points with over 400 rebounds and 400 assists. With the next point, he will be the only Hawkeye in history with 1,000 points and at least 400 rebounds and assists. It's been a remarkable career.

It really is. And it's a tribute to how hard he works. He's a fierce competitor.

I've really been trying to challenge him because he can be special. I do a disservice just because we're going through some tough times and trying to adjust without a very good player that's gone if I let (Horner) slide. I've got to demand even more out of him if he's going to become the player that he wants to become.

He's just doing a terrific job and responding that way. He's playing at a very high level. Today, he was outstanding. He's the quarterback and leader of the team. And when you win games, that's where the credit needs to go. Jeff deserves an awful lot of that credit.

Let's talk about the last two games and the Big Ten Tournament. What have you talked about with your players as far as goals going down the stretch here?

Well, we're at 17 wins which is more wins than last year now. You've got two games left here to try to get to 19 wins going into the Big Ten Tournament. Now, you've got a chance to get 20-plus wins after Big Ten Conference and Tournament play is over. And 20 wins is something that you always look forward to trying to get to.

The guys have worked awfully hard. We've got to hope we catch some breaks. We haven't had a lot of breaks this year. So, hopefully here in the last week, we go up against teams that helped us get out of shoot of the Big Ten Season at 0-2. We need a week now where maybe we can get two games under our belt.

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GREG BRUNNER

Great job tonight. The Hawkeyes' first road victory, it has to feel good.

Yeah. Very much so. We're very happy with the way everybody played, the starters and bench included. Everybody came in and played a vital role and played strong and played aggressive.

It's something we can hopefully look forward to in the next two games and in the Big Ten Tournament.

One of my keys to the game was the quick start and to get your running game going. But it was your ability to control the boards that was the big key.

Jeff and Adam did a great job in the beginning of the game coming out and making shots. Mike hit some open shots, too.

And then when our bench came in, there was no letdown at all. They attacked them. Seth, J.R., Jack, A.T., Doug, all those guys did a great job. Seth came in and got two huge offensive rebounds. That's what we're looking for him to do.

As someone that plays a lot, you have to appreciate the players that don't play a lot that are going to practice and putting in the time and can come in and produce and give you some valuable minutes.

Definitely. Their role is more than they'll ever know. They play so hard when they're in there, but in practice they're working us every day. They're trying to get us better. They do a great job.

My third key was to see you guys have fun playing again. It really looked like you guys were having fun out there. You had smiles, the high fives going.

It was a different environment. We've been playing well together, but we haven't been enjoying each other's successes. That's something that coach really got into us. When somebody else makes a basket, make sure you celebrate with them; make sure you're there for them and just slap them on the butt when they're running by.

That's what we did tonight. Even when somebody turned it over, everybody came and said it's all right. It helped us. Confidence was higher. Overall, the team's play was much better.

Can you talk about the next two games?

It's going to be two tough fights. We're coming home. It's our Senior Night. Hopefully we have a great crowd. Hopefully they're loud and noisy and they want to be there and enjoy watching us play.

Hopefully we can get a couple more wins in here after this win that we hadn't had for a while. We're just looking forward to going out and having a good time.

Our team gives a lot of respect to these opponents. They knocked us off at the beginning of the year. Hopefully we can change the outcome.

Can you talk about going up against Aaron Johnson today?

Oh, he's a big boy. I give him all of the respect in the world. He's undersized. He's leading the conference in rebounding. He goes in there and attacks the boards.

That's the same way that I am. That's why I like his game. He plays hard and does whatever he can to help the team win.


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