How do you repeat your performance against Purdue?
In watching the tape, we did a really nice job on their two leading scorers. That's not always easy to do. It wasn't just individuals. We did a really nice job as a team of locating Landry, guarding him in the post, defending his dribble drive; the same thing with Teague. Teague had a spurt, but other than a spurt we did a nice job on both of those guys. That's not easy because these are two five-year seniors that know the magnitude of this game. It will be much more difficult; obviously, it's away from home. We've played a little bit differently away from home than what we've done in our building.
They have two guys like that who haven't played in an NCAA Tournament and understand the importance of this game to that. How do you get your guys ready for that sort of emotion?
Well, that's the trick because other than about three of our guys, maybe four, none of them have been in the Big Ten Tournament before. It's different for them. And it's a different format for them. We're trying to keep things, like we do every year, as normal as possible; how we prepare; how we practice; how we travel; things we do in the hotels as far as films and this kind thing. There's an urgency their guys are going to be playing with. We have to make sure our guys are playing with an urgency that's equal or greater than that.
Adam did a tremendous job on Teague. Are you going to put him on him again and maybe sacrifice some of this offense?
That's the sacrifice. It wasn't one of (Haluska's) better games offensively. He's playing at a very high level right now. So, hopefully he can defend and do the things that we have to have him doing offensively. We got good offensive production in that game out of Cyrus and Mike and Tony. That always helps when we have that third, fourth, fifth guy that's helping us offensively. You get into the tournament and you've got to do those same things. They can't rely on just Landry and Teague. We can't rely just on Haluska and Tyler. It's the team that gets that third, fourth, fifth scorer, that will benefit one of those teams.
With Adam leaving, it's a little bit of an end of an era and a beginning of a new one in terms of recruiting isn't it?
Tony moves into more of a scoring role. We've got to get him off of the point some to do that. That's why whether it's a Dairese Gary, whether it winds up being a Justin Johnson on occasion or we sign another kid, that point guard that comes in can help alleviate some of the pressure from Tony and allow him to be more of a scoring guard which is what he is. Tyler is at that swing position. Justin is going to end up being a player that can really score. He's not called upon to do that as much this year because his minutes are around 12-15 minutes. Next year, his minutes climb to 25.
Does this history of success in the Big Ten Tournament carry over to this year's group?
I hope. We've got that stuff on our board. We want them knowing the success that we've had in this tournament. No Big Ten team has had more success in the tournament than we have. We're defending champs. We're trying to let them know that without putting undo pressure on them.
Would you say that the turning point of the year was the second half at Michigan?
Yeah, that's probably a good start. That had as much meaning to our year than anything. We hadn't had success on the road. We'd played well on the road but we'd given away some games. Getting over the hump and getting that road win really helped us. If we lose at Michigan, I don't know if we're able to beat a good Indiana team at home.
How proud are you to see Tyler get post-season recognition?
Oh, tremendous. I couldn't be more pleased with Adam and Tyler.
It's really hard. In my years here, it always seems like there are one or two teams that get on a run in the Big Ten Tournament. We've sometimes been a part of that. Other teams have been a part of that. I think only twice the No. 1 seed has won it. There obviously have been upsets. This year there's definitely parity. That's what makes for a great Big Ten Tournament. Nobody gets home court here. On a neutral floor, you're going to see some great games.
What has this season meant to maintain success after losing so much last season?
It's been really pleasing. I've been so pleased with this group. I was talking with my assistants about that over lunch today when I got back. It's hard to believe that 30 games have gone by this fast and it usually means you've had a lot of fun. This has been a team that's been a lot of fun to coach. They've listened. They've worked. We've had around 90 practices and we've maybe had one or two where we've had to spurn them on to compete. It's been a group that's wanted to get better and I give Mike and Adam a lot of credit with their leadership. This team has moved the ball better. This team has taken better care of the ball. We haven't guarded and we haven't rebounded like last year's team. That's what moving onto the future these guys that are returning they've got to totally buy into just how important the whole element of defense is. At home, they've got it. Away from home we're a totally different defensive team. It's maturity. It's youth. But they've got to buy into it. Jeff and Bru didn't buy into it for a while. Once they did, that team really was hard to play against because of the way they defended.
What does it mean for the program that you can win 25 and come back with a good season?
I hope it's a positive. Different people spin it different ways but we think it's a positive. This is seven straight winning seasons. That hasn't happened since the ‘50s. To have seven straight winning seasons, to be in the upper echelon of our league for three straight years, to do what we've done at home, that's been some big time positives. We've got a lot of work to do yet with this season, but hopefully the guys returning next season can get some momentum next year from what they were able to do in their first year.
What was the conversation you had with Adam after last season on what you expected from him?
It's funny. The conversation we had with Adam was that we were going to be here. He was all bent out of shape because he transferred and he's very close to our coaching staff because of the type of person he is. He had a lot of concerns and we were just trying to reassure him that we weren't going anywhere. You're going to be our leader. Mike has had some instability in his career. It's going to fall on you. Mike's leadership will depend on how good of a leader you are. There was much, much more pressure on Adam as a senior than what there was for some of the seniors we've had in the past just because we didn't have a volume of seniors this year. He's gone well beyond our expectations.
Is it fair to say that he was more of a complimentary player to those other guys until this year?
Everybody knew it was Bru and Jeff's team. We went as Jeff and Bru went. Adam helped a lot. When Jeff and Bru had off nights, Adam was always there. He was always that quiet assassin. Now, he's not so quiet anymore. He gets the best defender. There were occasions when the best defender was on Bru or Jeff. That's not the case this year. The best defender every night out was on Adam Haluska. For him to perform the way that he performed is a great credit to him and his preparation.
So, how many suits are you packing for Chicago?
(Laughs) I'll be there three. I always pack enough. I don't want to be naked in one of those (laughter). That's not a good thing. So, I'm packing at least three.
Do you care to comment on a report regarding your future at Iowa?
Not really.What report?
In ESPN the Magazine regarding Dana Altman possibly replacing you as head coach.
Who reported that?
Either Andy Katz or Doug Gottlieb.
Well, it wasn't Andy because I know Andy and I've talked to him. So, who was the other one?
I don't think I need to respond to anything that Doug Gottlieb has had to say.
Do you still think this team has something to prove?
I hope so. That's what we're all about. We talked about that at the beginning of the season. They might pick us ninth, but we're fighting for a championship. The guys always believed that. They've always responded to that during the year and now there's another championship. The Big Ten offers two championships every year. We're right there in the thick of things. They definitely know there's a lot to prove. There's a lot to play for. We're trying to win a championship. We're trying to make the NCAA field. It's been a very good, very solid year, but it can be even a better year. It can be more special. The guys will practice this week that way.
The NCAA Tournament is almost like the last thing for this staff to conquer.
That's definitely the next step. And that's the disappointment last year. Last year's team was capable of making a deep run. All this getting to March Madness brings that up again. As we start seeing all the clips, we're going to see that shot so I've got to relive it again. That still crawls at me. Yeah, that's the next step the program has got to take. There's much more of a commitment now. We have a practice facility where the architects are hired now. We're gradually making those steps toward what we've got to get to. Those are all things that are going to help us in recruiting. As recruiting gets better, your team gets better.
If you do not make the NCAA would you accept a bid to the NIT?
Oh, there's no question. I want this team to play as long as we can play. As logn as people keep telling us we've got games, we're going to play games.
Are you more energized at this time of year than maybe during the regular year?
Yeah, I wish the ice would melt. I got out of my truck upstairs and fell. That's not fun. I don't like getting out of my truck and falling knowing that golf season is month away. If I get hurt, I want to get hurt in November. But yeah, March is the greatest time.
Who wins a shooting contest between you and Adam?
(Laughs) You said shooting contest. If you're talking one on one and going up and down, I'm giving that to Adam. But if it's just straight shooting, I'll compete with him. I'll fight him. I'll accept the challenge. If he wants to shoot, I'll shoot. Those are the kind of guys I always like to challenge. Adam is a tremendous shooter. I can still get in his head. Before the competition is over, I'll get in his head in some way. Kendra has said yes but they're not married yet. So, I still have ways of getting at him. (Laughter)