Alford Discusses ISU, Horner Injury

Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford conducted a teleconference with the media on Thursday. The main topic of dicussion was the showdown with Iowa State on Friday and the injury that's expected to keep Hawkeye Point Guard Jeff Horner sidelined for 2-5 weeks. Read all about it in this HN.com Premium Quotebook.

How will Jeff be missed?

He's a big time clutch player. He wants the ball in his hands late in the game, where you need a basket because somebody is on the run. He can shoot it. He's a leader. You can just go on and on of how much he means to our team.

So, how do you break (ISU's) press without him?

Well, we've seen presses all year. We've been dealing with that since the second or third game in. So, I don't think we change our press break it's just a matter of changing personnel now. We'll have to handle the press in two of our next four games. Two of those four teams like to press, Iowa State and Drake. So, we have to be able to handle that. Anytime you play Iowa State, you've got to be able to handle the press. If you can't handle pressure, it will fuel their offense. We have to be able to handle it so they have to go against our defense. If we're turning the ball over, they never go against our defense.

Do you have to caution guys not to try to do too much in Jeff's absence?

Yeah. We had one practice (Wednesday). We'll have another one today. We'll have our bus trip up and have a lot of meetings tonight and talk about things. It's just all happened pretty quick. We're very fortunate, or unfortunate, that for his situation that it's not…when he went down and he grabbed it, it sure looked like an ACL grab. We're very fortunate that it's not that. He is going to return. That's good for the guys' mentality. We've got enough experience. Now it's just a matter of guys just going out and playing and not worrying about it, not looking over their shoulder, but just going out and having fun and playing.

Carlton hasn't seemed to get back in the flow after his injury. What do you need to see out of him?

Carlton is healthy now. He provides another guy that can make shots for us, but we need from him, just like we need from all the young kids, is to develop a toughness to him where they're really hard to play against. They understand the possession that they're in, whether it's 4-10 minutes of the first half or whatever that may be and then again in the second half that there's a toughness to how they play, there's this urgency to how they're going about the game at both ends. That's what we want to see out of Carlton and that's how he's going to help us because he is quick. He is athletic. And he can really shoot the ball. Young guys through experience learn those things. Now our young guys are going to be thrown into the mix a little bit sooner than maybe they would have otherwise.

What are the challenges that Iowa State brings?

Well, they're a very athletic team. They want to score out of their press and zone. They're a team that really likes to rely on their defense. They get a lot of deflections and disrupt you that way; get you rattled offensively and then really run off of your mistakes. If it gets to a game where they're deflecting more balls than we are and it starts their transition game, then that becomes a long night for us. With our makeup now and our personnel now, it's important that we handle that pressure and get the shot that we need, a very good, high percentage shot so that, more importantly, we can set our defense.

How has Jeff handled being injured?

He's been great. He was at practice (Wednesday). That's Jeff. Nobody hates being out more than Jeff does, especially because it was the end of one in-state game and possibly missing the next two in-state games. That's not a lot of fun for him. He's an intense kid and a competitor. This would have been the last time for him to go to Hilton and play. But I get the sense that Jeff felt like it might have been worse than it ended up being. He's never had a knee problem or really ever had an injury. So, he was worried that it was something very serious. (Wednesday) he seemed very relieved that's it's all about rehab. Nobody will rehab harder than he will. He'll be back soon.

Tony Freeman has done some good things against Kentucky and other people. But quite frankly, is he ready for Stinson and Blaylock?

Well, they're very good guards. Rondo is a very good guard. The difference is that Kentucky is on a neutral floor with a lot of our fans. This one here is a little bit more of a different atmosphere. That's what he's going to have to handle being a freshman and going into the environment.

Where are you going to get the outside shooting against the zone with Jeff out and getting the ball up the court?

It is an issue. It's toughness. And that's what we're going to have to do. We're doing a lot of good things defensively. Now, the next step is to start making some shots. We've got enough guys that cam make shots. Right now, our best three-point shooter is Greg Brunner. I didn't envision that nine games in. We've just got to continue to work offensively and continue to take care of the basketball and hope the shots start falling.

What kind of reaction do expect Haluska to get at Hilton?

Oh, I might be going out on a limb, but I'd probably say a typical Hilton reaction.

Will this be tough for him?

Oh, I guess that's the individual. All I can do in situations like this is to think about my own personal experiences. I always tried to put it into the perspective that there's a big difference with playing inside the lines and having the opportunity and the ability to play inside the lines versus sitting in the stands with a lot of people around you shouting things and holding up signs but never have the opportunity to come inside the lines. It's a tremendous honor to play inside the lines. Go out and play and don't worry about the critics or fans. Enjoy what you're doing. That's the biggest thing. You're not going to make all of your shots. You're not going to make all of the plays. Enjoy the opportunity that you have. This is another opportunity in a tough environment. Obviously, him being there as a student-athlete more than makes it easier because it's an in-state transfer.

What does Adam need to do a better job of

Well, he did a phenomenal job last year when we lost a key player. His scoring went up. Everything that he did went up. It's a similar case this year. With the absence of Jeff, more is going to be asked of him. More is going to be asked of Bru. Fair or not fair, that's just how it works. They're not only going to have to ask more of themselves, they're going to have to ask more of their teammates. Everybody is going to have to fill their roll at a little bit higher level because the guy that was doing an awful lot for us is out right now.

Do you have to watch Jeff trying to push himself too hard to come back?

There's no question about that. He's trying to do his ball handling workout every day. I'm trying to get him to not do it every day. That's a very good question. It's something we're going to have to put a lot of time into. He'll listen to the doctors, and the doctors will proceed with caution. But he's someone that if you tell him he's out 2-5 (weeks), he's more apt to try to be back 2 than 5. We're going to watch him. We're fortunate that we don't have a lot of games from here until the first of the year. It's a little bit different than if it was the Guardian's time of year where we were playing five games in 10 days. We don't have that situation now. With the Big Ten (season) looming four weeks away, we definitely want to make sure he's 100 percent before we bring him back.

Without Jeff, how does it change the backcourt rotation?

The only thing that it does is where we were really going with four and sometimes five with Carlton, it now puts Carlton more in the mix and it may mean we play Alex more at the big guard position.

Two years ago when you played at Hilton, it seems like things got a little overheated behind your bench with some of the Iowa State fans because Pierre Pierce was playing then. Did you officially get an apology from Wayne Morgan or Bruce VandeVelde?

Yeah. Bruce called me I think the next day or so and was apologetic.

Do you have any experience with the PCL injury?

No, when Dr. Wolfe told me it was a PCL, I thought he was talking about some kind of parcel express or something. (laughs) I had never heard of that. I didn't know if it was more serious or less serious (than an ACL). I think it's when you hit your knee straight down on something. That's what he did. He went from an airborne position straight down on his knee. It's ligament that apparently sits underneath your ACL. Right now the way it looks, and hopefully rehab will go well, is that you don't have to surgically do anything. That's obviously a lot better scenario than having to have surgery.


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