Quotes: Alford, Horner, Brunner

Jeff Horner, Greg Brunner, and Steve Alford met with the media following Iowa's victory over Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Read what they had to say in this premium update.

Alford: We knew obviously in this point in the season, all wins are very difficult and playing a Minnesota team that we have an awful lot f respect for, I think Dan does a tremendous job, we're dear friends, it's never easy to play against one another. I always think it's hard. I've said and we've been in flip-flopped position of playing on Thursdays a lot. We've always thought the Friday game favored the team that got to play on Thursday, because they were out here. That was our nervousness, that was our concern, just because they played here, they were comfortable her, and we're just not starting. They have five seniors in the starting line up, 3 of which were five year guys. I thought they did a tremendous job and we were very fortunate to grind out a win, and we end up getting it the way we've won a lot of games this year, and that's with our defense.

Q: Brunner, you were a bruiser scoring wise. No rebounds. Because of the injuries or what? 30 minutes, 16 points, no board?

Brunner: That might have been the first time in my career, and I can promise you it will be the last time. That's just one of those situations where I got a lot of things knocked away, just tried to tip it out. I credit Erek Hansen and the other guys at got to them. If I'm not getting them, they did a good job of getting them.

Q: Jeff, you guys are down 4 with about 11 minutes left. Then you go off for the 17-4 run. It seemed like you were real patient. Talk about how much your experience plays into that sequence.

Horner: It's kind of awkward, because we feel like we have a pretty veteran group, and actually their group is probably a little more veteran than us. We came out and we hit some shots, and we kind of played within the flow of the offense. I think we kept getting them when we came off double screens the first screener would get out, then their defender would show, then we'd get them on slips to the basket. Bru probably got about ten points on that tonight. That was huge for us tonight whenever we needed a basket, we just kind of went to that. The poise of this team was very good today. We could have shut it down when we were down 4, but we made a very good comeback.

Q: Did you change your defense there midway through the second half, did you go to a bit to a zone or box and 1?

Brunner: We played a 3-2, then we played a little bit of box and 1. Coach did an amazing job of going to the box and 1, it disrupted them. That was the key to our run.

Q: Jeff, why don't you talk about your day, and both of you guys talk about mentally, talk about Grier.

Brunner: I know Vince pretty well from the summer, stuff like that. He's a very good player, once he gets going, look out. He's going right to the rim on people. It seemed like every time people would be there to help, he'd just elude that person and switch to one of the hands and finish. He's a very good player and he's definitely one of the best in the big ten. The first half I kind of had to score to keep us in it and I think the second half I got my teammates involved. The second half, Coach was pretty munch getting on everyone in the locker room. It helped out a lot because a lot of guys responded in the second half. It was huge.

Q: Playing the first game tomorrow after playing night games, you and the winning team of the second game tonight. First of all, how hard is that, secondly, does that not seem wrong to you?

Brunner: If you think about it, it goes back kind of to AAU games. When we were in High School, we could play 5 games in that day. I think a college basketball has done that enough times in their career they understand it, that's part of it. If you keep winning, you've gotta play multiple games. That's the difference in playing the Friday game instead of the Thursday game. If you make a run from Thursday, that's 4 games compared to 3. You can tell that's a huge difference.

Horner: That's what you get when you're the 1st seed, too. You're the 2nd game of the day which is huge for Ohio State. If we would have been the 1 seed and taken care of business, we would be playing the second game tomorrow. That kind of stuff happens and fortunately we're the 2 seed, and we're going to be playing the first game. We've just got to deal with it. Illinois or Michigan State has it a lot worse off than we do, because they're playing right now and they're not going to get done until about 11:30. It's going to be a tough recovery I think.

Q: How important was it to get Erek back into the lineup for the last 12, 13 minutes of the second half?

Brunner: Erek's my frontman. He's the other guy on the opposite block for me. Having him behind me, Doug and those guys it's no drop-off when they come in, but having Erek, the way we communicate, we've played together for two years now, almost 3. Just having him in there, he changes everything. He's become more aggressive on the offensive end, he's just a great player overall.

Horner: I think the big thing there, too, was that he lead the team in rebounds. I don't know if we've really seen that too much this year, but Erek was huge tonight. It seemed like every time they had a shot and we needed a huge rebound, Erek was right there to get it.

Q: You've got another game to go, maybe hear a bit about a 3rd match up with Illinois. I know you guys split on your home courts, a 3rd match up possibly on a neutral court, your thoughts on the match up?

Brunner: Either Michigan State or Illinois, it's going to be one of the top teams in the league. It's kind of like pick your poison that way. You never know. They have so many guys on the team that can beat you, you just have to concentrate on what you do well. I think that's where we're going until we find out who we have to play.

Q: Coach, could you talk about the defensive change you made in the second half?

Alford: It was really just Jeff. Jeff really wanted to try on Grier, and that's what Jeff is. Grier was having one of those special nights. He's a very special talent, he kind of put them on his shoulders for a while there, and when you get 29 points in this league, you're doing something. He was a handful no matter who it was, but I thought Jeff made him work a little bit harder, maybe. He's had Adam's number, and Adam's been a terrific defender for us all year. You've got to give Vincent a lot of credit, but you've also got to give Jeff credit for wanting that. Jeff played all 40 minutes, plus wanting to guard their best player offensively. There wasn't a whole lot of adjustments. We tried to do some things whether it was zone or we haven't played one possession of box and 1, and we played 3 possessions tonight. That tells you how their dribble drive was affected us. They really got to the paint a lot on us. I did think our help was pretty good, we did get a lot of high hands on a lot of shots and made some shots a little bit more difficult than they might have otherwise been. Overall I was pretty pleased, we kept them off the foul line. The only thing that was really not pleasing was what we did on the backboard, especially in the first half.

Q: Horner made a comment that he could have carried you in the first half, then in the second half, Brunner started scoring a lot.

Alford: Jeff can get going, Jeff's a very good player. I don't think it was any particular thing that Minnesota didn't do or something we were doing, it's kind of like Vincent. When good players get going, they're hard to stop, and Jeff's a good player. He got going and it was hard for them to stop him just like it was hard for us to stop Vincent. I don't think it was any kind of secret on either side. Bru was just challenged as much as he's ever been challenged at halftime. You're a first-team all league choice, you don't come in with no field goals and no rebounds. He at least listened to half of it. He at least started scoring, he didn't rebound any better, but he at least started scoring. I thought he was the player he's been all year, and in the first half, he might have been a little hesitant. This is the first time he's gone live on the foot all week. We haven't gone five on five with him all week. He might have been a little hesitant. I though they do a good job. They double hard, Dan knows us very well, Dan does a great, great job. We knew it was going to be a battle. We just happened to make a few more shots tonight than what they did.

Q: Steve, to follow up on Greg. You were hoping his ankle would be 100%. Did you think it was, especially as it affected his rebounds?

Alford: I think he's fine. At the offensive end, when he got some post feeds, he was able to jump off both feet and dunk the ball, he was at least jumping to 10 feet or a little bit higher than 10 feet. Getting back in the rhythm of it, it's just like any sprained ankle. The hardest thing is just to convince yourself you're OK. I think the second half he was able to play through it a little bit more. We'll see tomorrow, because he had to play a lot of minutes tonight. We've got to hope he didn't get any swelling or major soreness going into tomorrow. John Streif and his staff did a tremendous job of just getting him ready. If I know Bru, he'll come back tomorrow and have a pretty big emphasis on the boards.

Q: Last time you played Minnesota, the center position was one of the determining factors. Were you a little happier with their player this time?

Alford: I thought Doug was key in the first half, because I thought he kept us in there. Jeff's scoring, then Doug with his productivity, whether it was defensively, some blocks, changing some shots, his board play. In the second half, I thought Erek Hansen did what he's done all year. He proved why he's the defensive player of the year in this league. I thought he changed shots, I thought he blocked shots. On 2 or 3 different occasions, he not only changed or blocked a shot, but he retrieved that rebound. That's a special talent, he made free throws, I think he was 3-3 from the field, I thought Erek was awfully big for us in this game.

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