Minny Postgame: Steve Alford Transcript

Iowa grinded out a tough 60-49 victory against Minnesota on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Adam Haluska paced the Hawkeyes with 22 points while teammate Tyler Smith added 15. Iowa Coach Steve Alford talks about the win in this HN.com premium press conference transcript.

Opening Statement: Well, I'm glad that Mo (Minnesota Coach Jim Molinari) hasn't changed from the Missouri Valley days of having grind out games. We knew that they would be very well prepared, and they were. Mo does a terrific job. It was really like an opener for us because we didn't know who was going to play and what roles these guys were going to play with Tollackson out. We stood around a little bit too much offensively. We really have to work on Adam and Tyler doing things a little bit quicker and then guys spacing up and playing off of them. We got to standing a little bit offensively and that affected us. But in a Big Ten game when it was easily our worst shooting game of the year…when a game turns ugly you have to do a couple of things. You have to make foul shots and you have to guard. Those are two things that we did. We got to the line 20 more times than they did. We made our free throws, all of them down the stretch. We got some really key stops. If you hold a Big Ten team to less than 50, you're going to win some games. When our offense wasn't clicking tonight, I thought our defense really showed up good.

Q&A

Your free throw shooting is now approaching 80 percent.

We have a loft goal. That's probably the one stat that I look at the most. I don't know if it's the most important. In game where neither team shot well, we outscored them 22-5 at the free throw line. If you don't outscore people at the free throw line, you better dominate the glass and you better make threes. You're rolling dice sometimes on those things. We've got a loft goal of trying to shoot 80 (percent). We've never done that for the year. But we're right at 78 percent now, which puts us at Top 10 in the country. Hopefully that bodes well for us if we can have leads late in games.

Can you talk about what Tony was able to do coming off the bench with nine rebounds?

Tony and Justin, neither one of them shot the ball well, but they gave us an awful lot off of the bench because of the way that they pursued the ball. One of them gets nine rebounds and the other one gets eight. And Kurt had a very important 10-minute stretch for us out of the center spot. Our center spot was struggling al night. That was a key 10-minute stretch in the second half when we built that 10-point lead.

You got a better game out of Henderson?

Yeah, yeah, he was just more aggressive. We'd still like to get more shots out of him. He's 3 of 4 tonight. I still think he can have six, seven, eight shot attempts. We've got to keep working with that. As I told him, he took four shots and all of them hit nothing but net or space because the one that he missed didn't touch anything. (Laughter) He did a good job on McKenzie. That was a big key because we knew that McKenzie was awfully good. But to get 17 points having to shoot 19 times, that's working for those 17 points. Mike had a lot to do with that.

Do you think you caught a break without Tollackson playing considering the trouble you've been having at center?

I always say that it's always difficult when people get hurt. We've had our share of injuries. If it is a break, we're obviously going to accept any break we can get.

How important is it to hold serve at home?

Very important, and we're playing better. We've got a very difficult week. I don't know if anybody is playing any better than Indiana right now. They made 14 threes today and they're playing at a very high level. But I like how we're playing. We were playing a different team and a different style, but we were able to grind it out. Now, our guys can get healed a little bit. We're banged up a little bit. But this is 11 straight home Big Ten wins. That's doing something. I'm very pleased with the effort our guys gave.

Can you talk about the rebounding?

That's been our Achilles' heal. We're getting better. But we knew that was going to be an issue going in. So, we have to find other ways of trying to secure wins. But you can't get beat by 20 or 25 rebounds. If you get beat by two, it's not as big of an issue as if you're getting beat by double figures.

How do you keep a team's confidence up after a first half where both teams struggled offensively?

(Smiles) you just go into the locker room and say please will you play better. (laughter) That's kind of been my theme all year with them, just ask them politely to play a little bit better. (Laughs).

It seems like you're giving Seth some tough love right now. Is he the kind of player that needs that?

So, you don't think that I was politely asking Seth to play better? (Laughter) I do them a disservice, the coaches do them a disservice if we act like it's OK not to rebound or it's OK to be out of position defensively; it's OK to get in foul trouble. We think that Seth is very talented. Seth has to believe in it as much as we believe in it. The bigs struggled at times, but they also made some big plays. Hopefully they can crry that forward.


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