Hawks Talk: Haluska, Brunner

Iowa opens postseason play Thursday afternoon against Purdue (ESPN, 1:30 p.m.) in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes are motivated: "We were sitting in a restaurant in Michigan eating as a team, and ESPN didn't even mention us on the bubble," Iowa forward Greg Brunner said. "We took it to heart. I saw a lot of guys put their heads down and just get mad. It's kind of just a punch in the gut."


When you first got started this year, were you more willing to be the fourth option and defer to the guys that had been here?

I think so. Jeff and Bru and Pierre definitely were going to get most of the shots. They were our main go-to-guys. I just kind of sat in the background and let them do their thing and I would do the little things that it took to win.

When P left, everybody's role had to step up a little bit, including my own.

Was that Ok with you initially?

Yeah. you've got to do the most unselfish thing in the team. Pierre is a great scorer. He's one of the best in the Big Ten. The ball needs to be in his hands. Jeff's been here for three years. He needs to be taking his shots, and the same with Bru inside.

Did you think this capability? You've been posting smaller guys. You've been out on the break. You've been hitting 3-pointers. You've been scoring from all over the court.

Those are the kinds of things that I did in high school. That was one of the reasons that I was disappointed at Iowa State because I didn't really get to show what I could do. Just getting the chance to use some of my strengths here that I didn't get to use two years ago has really helped. This team is better because of it.

You've averaged over 19 points a game since Pierre left. Where's the ceiling?

I really look at what this team can do. Everybody has room for improvement. There are a lot of things that I want to work on in the offseason. Whatever I have to do to help this team if it's by defense and shutting a guy down or I do have to score.

I really like this team. I love this coaching staff. This team has a lot of possibilities of being really good.

Did you consciously think about doing some of the things that Pierre had been doing - taking the ball to the basket or slipping out on the fastbreak?

Yeah. Just being able to use my speed and athleticism. When you have Piere doing that all the time, it's hard to have two guys slip out.

Early in the season we did a good job of getting everybody good shots. But of course a lot of it is going to go through Pierre and Jeff.

When you take our main guy away in the offense, we have to run it though different options. We've been posting jeff up just as much, too. He's been doing a great job of leading this team. That's been real critical to our success.

Coach was working with you on basketball awareness things. Do you feel like you have room to grow in that area?

I have so much room to grow. Basketball IQ, he's always talking about it every day. I can learn so much more. You can never be complacent. I'm going to learn a lot more from guys like Jeff and Bru who have been here longer.

Jeff is great in the court. He's really smart when it comes to basketball.


Have you seen Purdue play without Landry?

Actually I haven't. That's a terrible injury to have happen, especially in that crucial part of the season. He's such a great player.

But they're still a great team. They can do things. They've got a great coach that's been around for so many years and knows so much about basketball that he can lead any team that he wants.

This team is going to come in and fight us very hard.

The game at Purdue, how would you rank that among the best and worst games you've played this year?

We could have played better. Overall we didn't play very well. It wasn't one of our better games. They hot big shots down the end and we didn't make big plays. That's the reason they won it.

It was an equal game all the way through until the end and then they hit the big shots. They pulled it out.

How many wins are you thinking you need this week?

I don't really have the answer. I wish there was a simple formula that I could just pop out and come up with the equation and know. We're going to go for as many as we can.

Coach was asked about speculation about his job. He says he plans on being here next year. You guys hear that talk. How do you respond to that?

I'm always hearing a different rumor around here. It's not a...you just have to trust that everything is going to work out for the best and trust that everything is just going to come through. Whatever doesn't hurt you only kills you.

I totally just screwed that up. (laughter). Whatever doesn't kill you...yeah.(Laughter) Wow. I wasn't paying attention there.

So, you look at your emails.

Oh yeah. It was nothing bad. It was people just supporting us.

You probably get a lot of email, don't you?

I wouldn't say a lot. It wouldn't be anything too spectacular. We get them every once in a while.

It's always nice to hear from your fans. Everybody always wants to make a couple of good comments. A lof of the things that they say are very true. We appreciate it, especially the ones that tell us that they're totally behind us.

How much to you guys feed off of the negative tone that was out there the last few weeks?

That's what I like about this team. There have been a lot of negative attitudes coming at us. This team has persevered through it.

We want to win it for us. We wants to win it because we want to win it. That's our main goal and we're going to go out there and fight every single day.

We talked about how many wins it's going to take. Is that the focus or is the focus on winning the Big Ten Championship?

The focus right now is just winning against Purdue. If we overlook any team, they're going to come in and beat you. Just focusing on Purdue will hopefully open some more doors for us. Every win is going to help us.

Do you look at any of the stuff on line like the so-called experts making bracket projections?

Yeah. It's always interesting. We were sitting in a restaurant in Michigan eating as a team, and ESPN didn't even mention us on the bubble. We took it to heart. I saw a lot of guys put their heads down and just get mad. It's kind of just a punch in the gut.

People say that the wins without Pierre don't count because he's not there anymore. Well, so do the losses not count, too? You can't really say that.

We're fine. We'll be there.

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