Coach Alford: Press Conf. Transcript 2-19

Steve Alford met with the media on Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena as his team prepares to host Purdue on Wednesday. The Iowa Coach talked about his team's chances at the NCAA Tournament, the maturation of Tony Freeman, Josh Crawford, the scholarship situation for next year and much more in this Premium Transcript.

In looking back at Saturday, is there anything you wish you might have done with the team even though you didn't have much time to get them ready?

Well, we tried getting out on Thursday. We weren't bale to do it. We had things worked out here, but as far as getting a plane, we couldn't get it done. The only thing we tried doing that we weren't able to do was to get the team out of here Thursday night to try to maximize rest.

What did you think of Josh Crawford in his four or five minutes?

He's a guy that we thought would come in and play a lot of spot minutes this year, possibly redshirting next year because of all the bigs we have. You're going to add Palmer and Jarryd Cole next year that are big bodies and we don't lose anybody. Then, the following year, we lose Gorney and Looby in the same year. That was the plan all along with Josh. He probably hasn't got as many minutes as I thought he might at the beginning of the year. Most of that is because of what J.R. has done. We weren't going to play both of them and J.R.'s knowledge of that four spot has just been a little bit more advanced. That's not Josh's fault, it's just that J.R. has been here for two years. He played well (at Michigan State). He and Dan both played well. I don't know if we can make a whole lot out of that just because there's not a whole lot of pressure on you when you're playing a 30-point deficit game.

Do you expect Crawford back next year? Is he welcome back?

Well, I would hope. (laughs) There's been no talk of any of that out of us or him. So, we fully anticipate that happening.

Coach Izzo called you an NCAA Tournament team.

Well, we're like everybody. We hope we are, but we've got work to do. Michigan State is an NCAA Tournament team as well. They've got work to do. Purdue and Illinois are. They've got work to do. Michigan and Indiana are. They've got work to do. There are six of us that have work to do. We've got to play each other a lot. That's what is going to make these last two weeks a lot of fun.

But we didn't make too much of (the beating at MSU). I told the guys I was disappointed with the outcome of the game. But we really from when we met with them Saturday night moved on. I told them we've got to move on. Purdue was blown out at Indiana. Michigan State was blown out at Purdue. They were blown out at Indiana. Everybody has taken some big hits in this league other than Wisconsin and Ohio State, who are two of the top teams in the country. You know, you don't like it, but we really haven't dwelled on it. I'm anxious to see the guys today. I don't think that it's affected us from a mind-set that we can't play anymore. I hope we rebound from this just like we've rebounded in the past.

With that said, we're probably playing, other than Wisconsin and Ohio State, the hottest team in the league right now. Purdue has really been playing well. They really look good on tape. They're hard to guard. They play basically a four-guard line-up. And they've got a good one-two punch in Landry and Teague. Are emphasis from Saturday night on has been Purdue. We've got one game this week and they've been our total focus right now.

Tyler has struggled in the last couple of games. Is this a freshman kind of a thing? Is it the pinky?

It could be a lot of things. It's a long season for a new player. He was really in a groove and dislocated his finger. It got popped back in place, but it's sore. He's working his way through those things and he'll respond here late in the season.

Do you envision Tony being able to leave defenders behind out there?

He's got enough speed. He's as fast as any guard in this league. But it's learning how to use it. He either gets going too fast or then he'll stand around and watch. That's not maximizing the gift that he has that a lot of people don't have. He's playing pretty well right now, but he's just got to learn to catch, pivot…it's slowing down your mind and letting your body to take over. Too many times his mind is racing as fast as what his skill level is and that's never a good thing. They can't keep up with one another. We've got to continue to help and teach and get him. He's very strong. He's got a great body for a guard. And he's just got that explosive quickness that you don't teach. He's got a great gift, it's just learning how to use that gift.

What impressed you most about Landry and Teague?

They're fifth-year seniors. They've been in this league a long time. They're very skilled. Teague is shooting the three right at around 50 percent, which is amazing. Landry is shooting Top 10 in the country at over 60 percent, and he's getting a lot of double teams. But their experience is most impressive. To have two fifth-year seniors with this ability has really been the catalyst of their team.

Would you call them one of the surprises of the league?

No. I really thought with all of the guys they had coming back. Teague and Landry are two of the better players in our league. Crump gets back. He's very explosive off of the bounce. We knew that Kramer was going to be a very good freshman. Grant is a nice freshman for them.

What prompted you guys to start going to the yoga classes?

It's been really good. We haven't been able to do it as much this year as I would have liked because of our schedule the first semester. Coach Neal talked about it being a craze in the NBA. We started looking into it. We tried it and we really liked it. It's a relaxation of the mind and the flexibility.

It's a little bit Zen for a coach from Indiana.

(Laughs) You might be right. Coach Neal brought the Zen out more than I did.

You said on one of your radio shows that you might have two scholarships to give for next year. Is that Gary because he hasn't qualified yet?

He hasn't qualified and there are a lot of people that haven't qualified at this time of year. There is a ton of time left as far as taking tests and those types of things. We have one scholarship. Dairese is doing very well. His core classes are going up. He's really having a good year. His first trimester was outstanding. The better you do during the year your core goes up and what you have to get in the test goes down. We're hoping for the best from that standpoint. But right now, if everything stays status quo, we've got one scholarship to deal with.

In one of the polls today, Ohio State is one and Wisconsin is two. Do you feel comfortable with that? Is that how good those two teams are?

They're very good. We haven't played the rest of the country, but watching what the other teams in the country have done in their leagues, those two are very deserving. That's got to help our league when it comes to getting some postseason bids and things.

Do you worry that (the committee) will say that it's those two and everybody else?

No because you could probably say that about the ACC with Duke and Carolina over the years, too. There's a lot of basketball to be played. The rest of us will still have a lot to say with the outcome with what happens with Wisconsin and Ohio State. They've both got to play each other yet. They've both got some key match-ups with some of the rest of us and then you've got the Big Ten Tournament. The big thing is that the rest of us are having to play these people. Any time you're playing the top-ranked teams in the country multiple times, that's got to help your league. Let's say we're able to go 10-6. Three of those six losses would be Wisconsin and Ohio State. That's got to help you. That's got to be a positive. That's why there are so many of us trying to get to that 10-6, 9-7 mark.

Is it stating the obvious that you have to win the next three, setting the Big Ten Tournament aside?

Yeah, I would think, but it's hard to say. I don't know how it's all going to play out. Our mindset is that it has to be one at a time. Losing at Michigan State, we don't have the margin for error that we might have had. If we really want to lock into anything…because 10-6 can get you to third place. I would think that in a league that has two of the top five teams in the country, if you're in third place you don't have to worry too much about the Big Ten Tournament.

Have you done anything with this team in terms of being banged up and it being the end of February and guys are tired? Is there anything to sort of loosen them up in practice?

That's what we've been talking about. We've got to work on that in the next couple of days. I know it's been a grind on a lot them. But it's kind of a Catch-22 because this team needs practice. This team needs a lot of things to work on to keep getting better here late in the season. Yet, in the back of our mind is making sure that we're getting the proper rest.

Do you have any problems with the Big Ten schedule? Illinois gets Ohio State and Wisconsin once. Does anything strike you?

That seems to happen every year. I think a few years ago Wisconsin only played Michigan State and Illinois once and they ended up winning or sharing the Big Ten title. There was a lot made of that. As long as there is 11 teams and there's a 16-game schedule, that's going to happen. Some years it hits you well to where you get to play the bottom half of the league. Then, you get hit the other way. It's the luck of the draw.

How about your schedule? Are you OK with how it turned out?

Yeah, I mean, it's not like I'm going to wish that we had to play Ohio State again. That's a positive, but there are some teams that only have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin twice. We've got three games with those guys. Right now, Northwestern is next to last in our league. We only play them once. But do I want to go play at Evanston right now? No. (laughter)

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