Q: Seems like every year something happens with this team to put you in a tough spot.
Greg Brunner: We have not played with a full team for a full year for my time here. We lost our marquee players every year and it's hard to deal with. Imagine losing your best player and going out to fight for a championship. I think that every game we have come closer when that happens, the fans have come around us and showed support and we have fought hard for what we have earned.
Q: Were you surprised that Jeff got cut (for the USA Team) and how did he take it?
Brunner: I think I took it harder than he did. It was the first time I realized that after this year that I am not playing with him anymore, unless a miracle happens. I don't see that happening. I think I was more emotionally hit that he was. He was more shocked and I called my parents and talked to them, and talked with him and we just kind of had to part ways. It was an emotional experience for both of us. We realized that we wont always be there for each other. He took it like he should. He will use it as motivation and has gotten better because of it.
Q: When was the first time that you played together?
Brunner: Freshman year I think it was, on Martin Brothers. We played every year after that and we played against each other in 7th grade. We were at a Mason City camp and we were both point guards and we got in a fight. They had to stop camp because we were going at it so hard.
Q: When did you decide this was where you wanted to be?
Brunner: I have always been a huge Hawkeye fan for my whole life. I decided that I wanted to come here when they offered. Coach didn't even get the words out of his mouth. It was right before my junior season. Jeff committed here when he was four years old.
Q: Did you talk with him (Jeff) before you committed?
Brunner: Not really. I bugged Jared Reiner more when I was a sophomore in high school when he was on Martin Brothers for his senior year. I bugged him more than Jeff to let the coaches know I wanted to play here.
Q: What will it mean to practice with 16 instead of 8?
Brunner: We have liked it recently, because you are not on the court on the time and you get a break. Before if you got off the court, you didn't have enough players. It's not three hours of being out there. The coaches find a way to make sure that all of the veterans stay on the court a lot.
Q: What does that mean if you get a few minutes less during a game?
Brunner: There won't be a drop-off. Last year there was because they were freshmen. They are older now and they have experienced everything and their confidence is high. I don't think there will be a drop-off when they come in. I trust Alex at the three and four. Anytime he comes in, I would be willing to have him take a shot at the end of the game.
Q: You and Jeff love playing lots of minutes, but does that take a toll?
Brunner: Jeff had to bring it up the court and I push for boards, so you get tired. But that is what we train for.
Q: When you look around and think of the last three years and you envision what this year could be, is there a part of you that feels that this could be poetic because you have a great team with a lot of seniors, maybe the struggles were meant for something?
Brunner: Exactly. Adversity, what we have had, it has been beneficial to us because it has made us stronger. We have toughened our skin a little bit and we can take more than we thought we could. I think that this year, if we can keep the team together all year and have everyone there every day, we can be an amazing team.
Q: Is this the most talent you have had around you?
Brunner: Oh yeah. One through eight has been fun to watch them develop. After this year is done it will be fun to watch those guys and see how they mature and handle the load later in their career.
Q: You talked about having thicker skin; does this club come in with a chip on its shoulder this year?
Brunner: People said we were not good enough to make the NCAA tourney and we showed that by winning five games in a row and battle back to a Cincy team that had us down big. This team has the heart and soul of a champion and hopefully we can make a nice run in the tournament.
Q: Coach said that you guys are in the best shape ever.
Brunner: They make sure that we are in good shape this year. We run, going to the track, everyth9ing you can imagine, they made up.
Q: What has been different than in previous years?
Brunner: I didn't get to work out last year in preseason. I hurt my back at the start of the year, so it might be the same as last year, but I think everyone realized what they have to put in for this year. The conditioning is more up tempo than what it has been in the past.
Q: Did Coach send a message to you guys on physical conditioning this year?
Brunner: Coach Alford did a great job of explaining to me that I can be more effective at 240 than I can at 260. I won't tire out as quick, I am just as strong and am quicker, I can jump better.
Q: No late night pizzas?
Brunner: I stay away from all of that.
Q: You get some goofy questions at media day and this is the last time we can ask you such things. For once and for all for the fans out there, how tall are you?
Brunner: I am 6-6 and….well…6-7 we will say. I was 6-6 3/4 , barely under 6-7. We can say 6-9. Say 6-3, but I am ready to go in there and get the job done.
Q: It will end a mystery then.
Brunner: Exactly. I don't even know how tall I am. What does two inches matter? It won't do anything for me anyway.