TENACIOUS D: Iowa used a combination of man-to-man, half-court zone with the sprinkling of full-court trap to smother the Sun Devils. ASU went from 15:56- to 7:25-mark in the first half without a point and scored just 12 in the first half. The visitors shot 6 for 23 from the field in the first half and committed 10 turnovers.
ASU shot just 12 of 30 after the intermission and connected on just 3 of 13 3-point attempts in the game.
THOMAS RESURFACES: Senior Forward Doug Thomas broke out of his offensive slump with a pair of rim-shaking, crowd-pleasing dunks midway through the second half. The California native rose up above a group of bodies under the basket to slam home a Mike Henderson miss. Minutes later, he drove from the foul line to the basket for a thunderous two-handed jam that also drew a foul.
TIP-INS: Iowa recruits Cyrus Tate and Justin Johnson, both junior college players, traveled in from Nebraska and Texas, respectively, to take in the game from behind the Iowa bench. Also attending the contest was potential recruit, Tyler Smith, from Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. Smith originally signed with Tennessee before heading to Hargrave and re-opening his recruitment…Greg Brunner recorded his fifth double-double of the season and 25th in his Hawkeye career…The Sun Devils cut a 20-point Iowa lead to 10 midway through the second half before Carlton Reed knocked down a couple of free throws and Adam Haluska drained a deep three to push it back to 15…Iowa shot just 15 of 26 from the line with Brunner making just 2 of 7 tries…The paid attendance was announced at 10,902 but the actual crowd was more likely in the 7,000 range.
Opening Statememt: This was a big game probably for both teams. We're thankful we had it at home when we had an eight-day layoff. We really wanted to see what we could do defensively in that amount of time. We got some good looks. We didn't make a lot of shots. We did a better job of taking care of the basketball. We just had spurts that weren't real good offensively. We did a nice job on the backboard against a good rebounding team. This team was second in the country in 3-point percentage and they make three on us tonight. So, that was a focus defensively. They came in averaging 80. We held them to 43. So, to get a 20-point win over a PAC-10 opponent speaks volumes, especially with a team that's trying to come after two losses and without Jeff. So, I'm pretty pleased with the way that our guys performed tonight.
When your offense is struggling, you seem to really be relying on your defense to carry you through.
We have to rely on the defense whether the offense is clicking or struggling. That's just our personality this year. The team is starting take that personality 11 games in now. We've done a pretty good job of guarding people. Iowa State was probably the worst game we had defensively, but that was more our offense than it was our defense. We turned it over 20 times against a very potent, explosive offense, transition team. That fueled a lot of easy baskets for them. This team has taken on that personality, and that's good. That's fine. We didn't make the foul shot tonight. If we make the fouls hot, we could have really gotten into rhythm. But we got good bench play. Doug and Carlton were real good. Seth was real good during a key stretch in the first half when we got into foul trouble. Alex didn't make shots, but he ends up getting six rebounds. He was active on the board play.
Was this the team's best job of going inside-out against the zone?
I'll have to look at it. We're facing enough zones now to where our guys at least know what they're doing against zone. They're getting a lot of practice against zone. We're going to get a lot of practice Tuesday night (against Drake) because outside of maybe the first four minutes of the game, we're going to see zone for the whole game. The guys are getting more comfortable of understanding of what we need to do against zones.
When they cut it to a 10-point lead there, what did you tell your guys?
I'll have to watch tape, but that's probably the stretch where we turned the ball over. I think that was the timeout where I said we've got 12 turnovers in the first nine minutes. By looking at the stats, that's not true because we had eight at halftime. We didn't have 12 in that amount of stretch, but we might have had all five of them. I jst told them to settle, take control, do the things you've got to do offensively, quit forcing things, and then really get back to guarding. Things like that, I try to challenge them more defensively than I do offensively. I tell them if this gets nasty and we win by 10, neither team scores again. We held them scoreless for eight or nine minutes there in the first half. They were capable of doing that. The challenge was to get some scores out of the defense. We did that. We had a couple of transition baskets that were spirited our of what we did defensively.
It seems kind of ironic that if a team is supposed to reflect the personality of its coach, you were such a great shooter in college and Coach Knight said you never guarded too many people. Now, here's your team struggling with shooting and pretty good on defense.
(Smiles) Yeah. It's a…I don't know what to tell you about that. (laughter) As long as the guys win games, that's the bottom line. We're without a really good player. Jeff Horner makes a tremendous difference. Texas loses at home today. I know how good Texas is and they're without two starters. When you lose your top players, it's really difficult at this level. To get a 20-point win without Jeff, that pleases me with our young guys. And he's coming along. He went through pregame warm-ups today. I'm anxious to talk to the doctors here in the next 48 hours to see his time table. Hopefully we can continue to guard and I hope at sometime they take on a little bit of my personality and make a shot or two. (laughter)
Your guards had 13 of the 15 turnovers.
Well, they handle the ball a lot. I like Tony. I think that was a career high with seven assists. And Mike is really close. I told him that in the next 48 hours, he and I need to watch some tape. He's really close to becoming something really good. He's penetrating by people, he's just going one bounce too far and getting himself into trouble. He's worked hard on his shooting. He's 3 for 10 tonight, but I bet three of those were layups. He's really starting to flick the ball nice. So, he's awfully close and with Jeff being out of this period it's really helped him.
You talked about defense being the personality of your team. Do you think your fans are catching on to that?
I hope so. As the season goes along, you sense that the fans get to understand. That's something special when you have a team that's averaging 80 and they barely get half of that. You've had to do some good things defensively. I still think when our offense, we could be a potent offense. We're running some good stuff. They guys are doing some nice things. We've just got to knock down a few more shots.
Are you thinking that Jeff has an outside shot for Tuesday?
I don't know. I'll have to wait and see. I didn't know he was going to warm up tonight. He at least did that. We have to see happens. I haven't been able to speak to the medical staff yet. We'll have to see. I know he's probably eager to do it.
Nobody's ruled it out?
Nope. I haven't. (laughs)
If it's questionable that he could play but he also could not. Would you rather him play just to get him back in or go ahead and sit him for another game or even two to make sure he's healed completely?
We're not going to play him unless he's healed completely. The medical staff won't let that happen. I'm not going to let that happen. But if he's healed completely, I don't want to sit him in sweats. If he's healed completely (Sunday), I'd just assume he play on Tuesday. I'll wait until the doctors tell me he's healed completely so. When that happens, we'll make that decision.