Freeman Gets Defensive in PTL Opener

Tony Freeman grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood in suburban Chicago that prepared him for just about anything on and off of the court. That experience shined though in his poise during his Prime Time League debut Wednesday night. Read about his matchup with Jason Bohanon and Ben Jacobson and enjoy a candid Q&A in this Premium package.

Incoming Iowa freshman Tony Freeman played his first game in front of the local fans Wednesday night as the Prime Time League opened its 19th year of play at the North Liberty Community Center.

The 6-foot-1 guard from suburban Chicago matched up against Wisconsin recruit and Linn-Mar senior-to-be Jason Bohanon for much of the night and also found himself head-to-head with UNI star Ben Jacobson. Freeman held his own against both Iowa natives and showed some excellent qualities.

Freeman prides himself on defense and should help Iowa right away with his ability to play on the ball. He frustrated Bohanon and Jacobson frequently.

Freeman's first step off a dribble is lightning quick as he displayed while blowing passed Bohanon on a drive for a layup midway through the first half. He appeared a little tight, but once he settled in and displayed a smooth and accurate 3-point shot.

Like most freshmen, Freeman - while solid physically - will need to gain strength to battle in the Big Ten. But this kid will help Iowa this year and could be a special player down the line.

We caught up with Tony after his game, and here's what he had to say about showcasing his game for the Hawkeye faithful for the first time:

What was this experience like playing with these guys?

Back at home, you play with guys with talent. But these guys come from all over - Northern Iowa; overseas.

What type of competition are you used to playing with back home?

Where I'm from, guys play real, real rough. It's all about playing, where I'm from, very mental. If you can play with those guys, you can play with anywhere. That's how I feel.

Can you explain what that means, the game being all mental?

Chicago is a tough area. I came back and told them I was going to Iowa and guys were like, "What? You're going to Iowa. There's nothing out there but corn." But I love this place. Like I said before, I like this place more than I like my home town. It's that warm, warm welcome. And guys here can play, too, so I'm not mad about it at all.

Is it more of a physical kind of a game; a more in your face thing?

It's like that back at home, too. Some guys can't really play basketball so all they do is foul. I just feel like there is just a little bit more competition at home. But it's good competition here. I'm just glad to be here.

What do you want to get out of this experience this summer? What are you trying work on in your game?

The Big Ten is a physical conference. These guys out here play very physical. Playing with these guys will warm me up for the Big Ten experience.

You guarded a couple of interesting guys. Did you know who they were - Bohanon and Jacobson?

Bohanon actually visited with me last year on my trip to Iowa. I didn't recognize him at first when I saw him, but when he started hitting shots I was like, "Wow, this guy can shoot." They told me who he was and I had to get up in him after that because he hit one too many shots on me.

What was it like guarding him and Ben Jacobson?

Those guys are tough. But where I come from, everybody is just as tough and even tougher. It was an experience, but I'm already used to it.

Is defense one of your strong points?

Definitely. I come from St. Joe's High School in Westchester, Ill. (Head Coach) Gene Pingatore, that's all they teach us. We have a three hour practice and two hours will be spent playing defense. That's where I come from; play up and down and get into people's chests fullcourt.

It seems like you're not afraid to stick your chest up there to keep them from driving around you, either.

Oh no. Where I'm from you've got to do whatever you can to keep your guy from scoring.

What do you anticipate your role being on the Hawkeyes this year?

I can't really tell right now. We haven't really practiced as a whole yet. I'm playing real good with them now. I'm playing defense, and the guys seem to like me a whole lot. I don't think I'll have a hard time fitting in with those guys.

Do you feel like minutes are there for you? Iowa has an awful lot returning to the backcourt.

You're right. It's all about competing. I'm going to go in to compete to do the best that I can. Whatever comes out of that comes out of that.

When did you come out here?

I'm staying with the team manager, Mike Freeman. I came out here about two weeks ago.

What's it been like so far?

I like the place. I've got summer school Monday through Thursday. That's been pretty tough. I've got papers due almost every day. It's an experience.

Are you from Westchester?

I'm from the hometown of Shannon Brown and Dee Brown, Maywood, Ill.

What's that like in comparison to Iowa City?

(Laughs) Maywood, Chicago, that's a tough town. I won't even go into how you've got to watch yourself around there. One turn down the wrong street can be the end of your life one day. But that town, that experience, that shaped me into who I am as a person; being real tough and not taking any mess. I'm going to bring that same attitude out here on the court.

Have you ever met (St. Joe's Alum) Isiah Thomas?

Definitely. I met Isiah when I used to go to the St. Joseph's camps when I was little. Isiah is a pretty cool guy.

Who was the biggest influence in you deciding to come to Iowa?

The people. The players were great. I like the players. They can spot up and shoot real well. But the people down here welcomed me with open arms. Nobody knew who I was, people would just say thank you. You could tell it's just a town where everybody loves each other. There's isn't any hate going on around here.

How many classes are you taking?

My second class starts in on the 21st. I'm taking one right now - rhetoric.

You have workouts, too?

Yeah, I have workouts and I have to meet with my tutor for two hours a day. I'm pretty busy. I'm just trying to do the best I can.


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