Steve Alford: Well, I'm very, very happy for our seniors. This is probably, Coach Neal mentioned it, the most uptight I've been this season. This group has been special and it's allowed us coaches to coach and really have a lot of fun on the sidelines with the way that they conduct themselves. I was a little bit uptight today because you just want to win so bad for this group of seniors. Our team probably read me. We were really tight through the first half, although our defense was outstanding. Then the second half, our offense started to flow and we loosened up a little bit. I just can't say enough about of these guys have guarded. If you research what our defensive points allowed and what our field goal percentage defense is in this building this year, it's something very, very special. They topped it off this week with two great defensive performances. I couldn't be more happy or pleased for our seniors to go out this way.
How is Bru?
I think OK. He can at least stand and talk. We know that. (Laughter) I'm hoping he gets elevated the rest of the weekend and gets some treatment. I think he'll be OK. It's nice that we don't play until Friday. We'll get some very good rest. I don't think it was a high sprain. Those can sometimes be a little bit longer. So, we can give him a lot of rest getting into the weekend. So, hopefully he'll be OK.
Did you say something to Adam before this game? He seemed to have his game back.
No. All year Adam and Erek have probably been a little more comfortable at home than they have been on the road. Erek was a little tight tonight. You could see that. Bru was a little bit uptight. They just so badly wanted to go out the right way. I was uptight for them. They probably read me a little bit. I had to relax a little bit at halftime and just tell them, "Hey, we're fine. We didn't play very well and we're still ahead. If you keep guarding like that, good things are going to happen." Adam is just trying to learn. He's new to everything, his second year in it. He's not consistent yet, but at least today he can look at this film and say this is the way you cut. He really did a good job of making Tucker work defensively. That was the goal going into the game. It really slowed Tucker's performance at the other end. He's so hard to guard. Because what we did to him at the other end it tired him a little bit.
Steve, can you just go over a few things you'll remember from these seniors?
You go through a lot, whether it's a two-year period or a four-year period in life. Not all the things happen the way that you want them to. Bu the character of an individual is when things aren't dealt the way you thought they were going to be dealt can you still be successful. These are five seniors, which three of them, that have had four winning seasons together and four post season appearances to cap it off by being the first team ever in the history (of the arena) to have an undefeated season at home. But even more so than the wins it's really about how they did it, how they went about it. You never saw them down in practice. Bru and Erek and Jeff, every single day in practice they go absolutely 110 percent regardless. They showed up every day to get better. Their legacy will go beyond this year. Our freshmen and sophomores and juniors really have a group of young men that they can look at and emulate. That's what's been very special with them. Great students, even Erek who had academic problems is graduating in May. He had his best semester last semester. They've had enough crossroads in their lives to give up and do something else. They didn't. They fought. They kept getting better. And they've really become a close-knit unit. It's going to be sad to see them go because they've meant an awful lot to our program.
Can you talk about no worse now that a No. 2 seed at the Big Ten Tournament?
With as deep as it is this year, it's hard going four in four, let alone three in three. We've put ourselves in a good position with a No. 2 seed in the best league in the country. That helps you for the NCAA seeding. I've always been a firm believer that getting in is one thing, and that's what it was last year. We were on pins and needles. We thought that our resume was good enough, but you just don't know. This year, we know. We have to one of the few teams in the country to have nine wins against the Top 25. I mean, that's a phenomenal year. You get nine wins, a third of the games that you play are nine wins against he Top 25. You see a lot of resumes out there like that against the Top 50, but ours is nine wins over the Top 25. The body of work has been pretty good. Now, if we go perform well at the Big Ten Tournament, we're looking at a very good seed. And seeding in the national tournament has a lot to do with the ability to advance. There aren't a lot of high seeds to just keep advancing. Normally, your lower seeds advance. So, we're still fighting for that.
With Jeff having no assists today, is that the first time that you can remember that happening?
I have to look at tape and make sure Roe and his people did that right. (Laughter) I find it hard to believe. I'm just giving him a hard time. Jeff had seven rebounds tonight. That's just Jeff. In a game where Bru is struggling, Erek is struggling, he was that one senior that said, "Ok, I've got to carry you for a while." This was a game we needed him to score. With the way the flow was going, he needed to shoot the ball. He probably hasn't had a lot of games this year where he's gotten 17 attempts. SO, he took it on himself to shoot and make shots.
You guys took off with Haluska and Brunner and Hansen on the bench. Your bench did well.
In the second half, the bench was a lot more productive. Doug was a little bit like the rest of us, a little bit uptight in the first half. He was tremendous in the second half. Tony was much better in the second half. Alex was good in both halves. Those three coming off the bench really did a nice job when we got in a little foul trouble to start the second half. We made a nice run with those three and Jeff and Mike in there.
It's neutral courts the rest of the way. Do you like that with this team?
We talked about that in the locker room just five minutes ago. There are no more road games, no more home games. The rest of the way out it's neutral. With juniors and seniors predominantly getting the minutes, you've got to be optimistic playing in a gym that nobody's played in, different basketballs, different environments, a lot of dome environments, a lot of environments that aren't sold out. You want experience in those types of situations and you want to be able to guard. Our shooting is coming. We're starting to shoot the ball a little bit better. But if we can keep defending like we're defending, we've got a chance. It's a great tournament. Anybody can win this thing. And you're still going into Sunday not knowing the bracket yet, which is even unusual. I like our chances. We've got to play well, but this has been a pretty good team all year long.
NOTES: Wisconsin alum and former professional golfer Andy North was seen in the tunnel outside the locker rooms before the game…press row entertained more media than it had in any previous game this season and the most since last season's Illinois contest…Drake center Alou Keita, an Iowa City Regina graduate, attended the game…Bo Ryan continued to argue with the officials after the halftime buzzer as everybody headed into the tunnel. He had to he told to turn and walk away by referee Ted Hillary…Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema, a former Iowa player, attended the contest and shook a lot of hands, including that of Hawkeye AD Bob Bowlsby…Wisconsin held its largest lead of the first half at nine points…Iowa shot 30 percent before the intermission…The Hawkeyes grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the first half and forced Wisconsin into an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes…Adam Haluska, with a little help from Alex Thompson, held the Badgers leading scorer, Alando Tucker, to four first-half points on 2 of 6 shooting from the floor. He finished with 10…The Hawkeyes held Wisconsin scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half…Doug Thomas' putback dunk off an Alex Thompson miss midway through the second-half was a thing of beauty…Adam Haluska picked up his fourth foul at the 7:36 mark…This year's team became the first to ever go undefeated at Carver-Hawkeye Arena since it opened in 1983 and the first Iowa squad to run the home table since 1966…Greg Brunner went to the floor grabbing his right ankle at the 3:35 mark and had to be taken to the trainer's room. He returned at 1:08 with his foot wrapped ice…Iowa's 17 home wins are the most ever by a Hawkeye team…Iowa's 18 consecutive homes wins is the fifth longest active winning streak in the nation…Doug Thomas' father and grandmother traveled in for Senior Day from Pasadena, Calif…Jeff Horner get Tanya Alford to break down in tears when he thanked her for her support…Wisconsin shot just 20 percent (6- for 30) in the second half…The Hawkeyes notched 53.8 percent (14-26) after the intermission…Thomas snared a game-high nine rebounds, while Horner and Haluska each pulled down seven.