Opening Statement: I'm really proud of our guys. Playing a ranked opponent, a team that had an awful lot of confidence at 13-2, and to play a 40-minute game and to never be behind, our guys showed a lot of maturity tonight and grew up. They did that with a lot of guys playing their first Big Ten game. You look at the stat sheet where maybe 16 or 17 guys plays and there really is only one person that has something in every category and that's Tyler Smith. And that's a freshman. I was very pleased because I knew that we were going to have a very tough opponent, a very well prepared opponent that is very well coached. I was very nervous about that but I've really liked what our guys have been doing in practice. They reaped some of those benefits in tonight's game.
What did you do to Cyrus this week?
Just believe in him. We've watched some tape with him, and we've just told him how much we believe in him. We know we have to have him. He knows how badly we have to have him. He was feeling some of that pressure and we just told him to relax. But it's really nothing the coaches do. That's about a player just playing. He deserves all of the credit. Just as when he's playing poorly that falls on his shoulders, when he does things like he did tonight and have a special night, he deserves that credit as well.
Can the ability for him to be a little bit more physical in the Big Ten contribute to him maybe staying out of foul trouble?
Well, I hope so. And then you have to realize that he is a junior college sophomore. He's in his first season at this level. It's a little bit different than being at Northeast Nebraska Junior College. It's a different game. And when Brunner leaves and you know that that's your spot and you can't help but make the comparisons, Greg Brunner is the all-time leading rebounder in the school's history, first-team all-Big Ten. Cyrus isn't to that level yet. But Cyrus is going to work awfully hard to get to that point. But those are big shoes to fill, and I thought Cyrus really played well tonight,
Coach, talk about what you learned from Arizona State and UNI that maybe helped tonight?
Our guys did a better job with time and score. There are still a couple of things that I'd like to look at on tape and go over with them. We were up seven with about 2:15 and we quick shot. But we made the free throws. We've been a Top 10 foul shooting team all year. We've been right around 77, 78 percent. We were 78 percent tonight. Mike Henderson has a very poor offensive night for Mike. He knows that. He bobbled some passes. He took some not such good shots. To be able to step up and make 5 out of 6 in the last two minutes, that's hard to do. If you're in rhythm and doing well, it might be a little bit easier. I was really proud of Mike because I know how hard he worked at guarding and defending Neitzel.
Can you talk about winning your 300th game?
I've just been blessed. I had a basketball in my crib. I'm 42. Basketball has been in my life forever. I had a very special playing career, and now to be in coaching for 15 full season, my 16th overall, I've had very special kids. That's what makes it fun. I've had great staffs. I'm at a tremendous institution that shows me incredible support. That's what makes it fun. To be at 42 and still doing something that you really, really had a passion for as a kindergartener, that's special. I've been able to share that with a lot of special people.
Will this win tonight be a turning point for this team?
I don't know. I guess it's too early to tell. But I'm glad it turned this way. It's a lot more fun going to Champaign knowing you're 1-0 versus 0-1. It's a very difficult five-game stretch out of the shoot, so if you don't get that first one, it changes some things. And really, I don't know if it was a turning point, but it was a very key win for us.
*Iowa did a nice job switching up defenses on the Spartans. In addition to their customary man-to-man set, Iowa mixed in a 1-2-2 full-court trap and also a 2-3 half-court zone. They also trapped Neitzel with a big man when the opportunity presented itself.
*Former Hawkeye Ryan Bowen took in the game from the stands.
*Paid crowd was announced at 11,469, while the actual was about 10,000. Nice showing by the students for it being on break.
*Cyrus Tate enjoyed his breakout game as a Hawkeye. The sophomore from -Chicago notched a career high 14 points and nine rebounds. His back-to-back baskets at about the nine-minute mark of the second half helped silence an MSU run that brought the visitors to within six points of the lead.
*Stat of the night – Michigan State did not have a fastbreak point.
*Iowa led the game from start to finish with a 13-point lead being it's biggest one of the night.
*Iowa turned the ball over just seven times and collected 14 assists on 20 baskets.
*Mike Henderson hit five of six free throws in the final two minutes, representing his only points of the night.