Opening Statement: I told you at Halloween that there would be times when this team would make you say Wow. And then there would be times when you'd say Wow and it would mean a whole different thing. That's just what we're getting right now. They're really competing but there are so many experiences that they have to go through to get to where they want to get to. What I really appreciated tonight was that there was a tremendous run Coppin put on us, and we didn't handle the 1-3-1, we talked about that at halftime, and then at the 12-minute mark we really challenged them. We said that we have to play with poise. It's a 12-minute game. You're up two. And they won the last 12 minutes 35-21. It could have easily went the other way with the momentum that they had. Our guys really matured and did some good things tonight. There were a lot of positive things that came out of it; Adam being one rebound and one assist away from a triple double on a night where he gets his career high. He didn't start shooting the ball well, but in the last 12 minutes it was obvious of who was putting their team on their back. He was just tremendous in the second half.
You at one time challenged him to take that role. Are you pleased to see him do that?
(laughs) Tonight, yeah, and Adam was doing a good job. He's really starting to learn. The leadership role is not easy. He's had the good fortune of being behind Jeff Horner and Greg Brunner from a leadership role. The leadership role gets a little bit tougher because now you're out there. The spotlight is on you, not really from a fan's perspective but from your teammates' perspective. Adam had his role last year, but it was on Greg and Jeff to make sure everybody was ready to play. It was on Greg and Jeff when there were pressure plays that needed to be made at both ends. That's a heavy, big, bright spotlight. With Mike being out, that spotlight has been really big on Adam. He's really grown. He's matured. He's really developing into a nice leader. Now, Hopefully, we can get Mike back and Mike can help in those ways because Mike has had a tone of experience of playing at this level. Hopefully we can get him back and get him going.
You have a big week coming up, how do you think your guys are coming along?
We don't get any breaks, that's for sure. It's been a tough grind already, but we start the in-state rivals. We've got three in a row. We really need to try to take care of home here before we have to get ready for Drake. Northern Iowa is 6-1. They've already beaten Bucknell. They beat Iowa State at home. Their only loss is at Washington and that team is nationally ranked and with about five minutes to go it was a tie game. They're about a play or two from being undefeated. It's going to be a tremendous matchup and Friday (against Iowa State) will be a tremendous matchup.
Can you talk about Justin's play in the first half?
I'll tell you what, I've been really impressed with what he's doing. We joke with him, but he's developed a shot fake. Two weeks ago, he had no shot fake. He made two 2-point baskets tonight off of a shot fake. He turned the ball over a little bit tonight, but his hands were filled with the little kid (McKee). What he does off of the ball is very tough to defend. He and Adam made it difficult on him. He's going to score, but Justin had a really god classic.
What did you get out of Mike tonight?
We just wanted to get his feet wet. I told him, we put you in and within five seconds you've got your first shot. You must me feeling pretty good. We were wanting to put him back there in the end. We were afraid they would foul him and I don't think he wanted to go to the line anymore. But we just wanted to get his feet wet. It might sound elementary, but pass, catch, dribble at this level are not easy. He hadn't done it for anything for over a month. Everything he has been doing is on his own. That's a lot different than banging big bodies. We just wanted to get him a little bit of banging bodies. Unfortunately, they made a huge run and we couldn't really do was much as we would have liked, but hopefully we can get a few days of therapy and be a little bit better Tuesday.
Angle set a career high (for scoring) was well. Can you talk about his play?
JR is just…we talk about all the time, be who you are, know your role. Some guys know their role but don't want to play their role. That happens. I'm not saying this particular team, but you have that happen. JR is getting some good minutes because he's being who he is. He can make shots. He's a very good passer. He's really focused on his defense. He's trying to do all of those little things that his role tells him to do. As long as he stays in that box with his role, he's going to continue to get those minutes. When we were a little bit stagnant in the first half offensively, he really came in and gave us a big important boost and got us going to where we could get a double digit lead going into half.
He's Back: Mike Henderson returned to the lineup after missing the season's first seven games. The senior from Waterloo broke a finger during the preseason.
Henderson checked into the contest at the 12:43 mark of the first half.
Technically: Alford picked up a rare technical in the first half when referee Terry Wymer decided he had heard enough from the head coach.
Alford was complaining about Wymer's call on Iowa's previous possession. Wymer called Justin Johnson out of bounds, and the Iowa coach felt his guard was pushed out.
Alford continued screaming at Wymer after getting called for the technical, and associate head coach Craig Neal stepped in to calm down his boss.
In the second half, the Iowa bench was whistled for a technical. Neal and Alford were upset by there not being a foul called on a Tyler Smith shot attempt.
Hot Haluska: Adam Haluska bounced back from a slow night in Friday's opener to net a career-high 31 points. The senior tallied eight points in the first round on just 2 of 10 shooting from the floor.
Saturday, he rebounded from a 3 for 8 first half and a 1 for 6 start to can eight points. He then exploded for 23 points on 7 of 10 shooting (4 of 6 from 3-point land) after the break. He finished with nine rebounds and nine assists with one turnover and two steals.
Award Winners: Haluska headed the all-tournament team by nailing down MVP Honors. Joining the senior on the squad were teammates Tyler Smith and Justin Johnson, who averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds during the weekend. Smith averaged 14.0 points and six boards.
Tip-Ins: J.R. Angle scored a career-high eight points, topping his previous high of five, reached twice…LaSalle won the consolation game against Texas-Pan American, 64-63, on a 3-pointer at the buzzer…Haluska now is averaging 18.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He has connected on 32 of 34 (94 percent) from the foul line this season…Four Iowa players (Haluska, Smith, Tate and Looby) average at least four rebounds a game with Looby leading the way at 5.1 a game.