CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - A wrap-up from Iowa's 62-55 victory against Northern Iowa here Wednesday night at the McLeod Center:
When did you find out you were going to play tonight?
I was practicing Monday. I wasn‘t supposed to go full contact but it started to feel pretty decent. I felt like 50 percent of me is better than none of me at all. I took the same attitude out there (Wednesday night). I just told God to relieve me of all stress and anxiety. It was very painful but I wanted to help my team the best way that I could.
Because the players that were missing you made up your mind to play?
I don‘t know. I feel bad for the guys that are missing (Wednesday night). But like I said, my team needed me. It was more or less a game time decision. I just tried to give me team everything I could. We did a good job tonight.
How much did you expect to play?
Well, I told coach, I was like ‘Coach, with me it‘s either all or nothing.' I think I went over my limit tonight. I was supposed to go like maybe 12 minutes. Like I said, it was painful. I kept taking pain medicine. (Thursday) it will probably be real sore. But I‘m just glad I could help my team win (Wednesday night).
Were you surprised at how well you shot the ball? I assume you‘ve been practicing a lot on jumpers.
I‘ve been shooting. The only thing that I don‘t have right now is my explosion and my jumping ability. When I get those back, I should be in pretty decent shape. Right now, the ball handling is there. The shot is there. The passing is there. The IQ is there. It‘s just a matter of getting that explosion I‘m used to having that I don‘t have right now.
How abut going to the free throw line there late? Was that…?
That‘s why we came here early to work things out in the shoot-around. It was a hostile crowd and we just tried to go up there and make the best of it and shoot it solid.
Has the injury given you time to work on your shot?
When I was on crutches, I was in the chair working on ball handling. I think my feel for the game never left just having the ball in my hand a lot and watching practice. It‘s just having that mindset 24 hours. All that work paid off. I‘m glad that we got a win tonight.
How do you feel about what you guys accomplished?
It‘s a big step for us. We‘re capable. I mean, you guys might write stuff that‘s negative, but we‘re capable. I feel like by next week we‘re be at full strength. We play Drake next week. We‘re probably going to still be a little banged up this Saturday. But we‘re just going to take it one game at a time and everybody just try to get healthy.
Will Jeff (Peterson) be back on Saturday?
Yeah, he should. He missed today because his grandfather died. It‘s sad for him. I send my condolences out to his family. We‘ll have most of the team back Saturday and try to do the same thing we did here.
Did you talk to him before he left?
Yeah, I just told him that sometimes life throws us curveballs. We just have to deal with them. Hopefully, all that is over with right now and now he can focus. It‘s mental. He can come to me and ask me for anything. I‘ll be there for him just like anybody on the team.
Late in the game, there was a timeout with less than a minute to go. You were doing the talking. It didn‘t look like Coach Lick could get a word in.
Well, I‘m basically the coach on the floor. That‘s what the point guard is. I know what‘s going on in there because I‘m in the game. I know what works and what doesn't work. Coach does a good job of just letting me says stuff and he doesn‘t say anything back. I respect that. It‘s good that he gives me that leadership and that respect. I appreciate that.
This was your first taste of an intrastate rivalry game. What did you think?
That was a great, great atmosphere. There was a lot of passion in the court, a lot of intensity from both sides. I loved it. It was great.
You didn‘t seem phased at all. What kept you at ease out there?
I just figured it was just like any other game. It‘s just basketball. It‘s the same floor length, the same height of the goal. It wasn‘t no big deal.
You hit a few early shots. Did that get you in a rhythm?
Yeah, any time I can hit a couple of shots in the first half, that gives me more confidence for the second half.
You guys knew you‘d be without Jeff today, but you get Tony back. How did that work out?
Without Jeff and Dan, we really had to pick it up. Tony coming in just lifted our spirits. We felt like we could win this game. He‘s our leader and he did a great job tonight.
We saw him hit his first four shots and what he gave you statistically. What did he give you guys beyond the numbers?
He‘s just always communicating. When someone is shooting free throws, he‘s always matching people up or telling us to get in a stance and play D. He‘s just our leader.
I don‘t think many people outside the program gave you guys much of a chance tonight. Is that motivation?
Yeah, it's a lot of motivation. We knew going in that we could beat these guys. They‘re a very good team but we felt like with the way that we‘ve been practicing lately we‘ve been practicing very hard. So, we felt ready.
How much of a step forward is this for you guys and how much confidence can this help you going forward?
This is a huge confidence booster. We‘ve won two straight now going into Iowa State. We feel like we can get that win. Hopefully we can get on a roll for the Big Ten season.
Its‘ been a bit of a roller coaster for you guys this season. Do you feel like you‘re improving?
With Tony coming back and when we get Dan and Jeff back, we‘re going to have more scoring threats. We‘re just getting a better feel for the offense and locking up on D a lot better as well.
Freeman Returns: After missing the first nine games of the season with a broken foot, junior guard Tony Freeman returned to the lineup quite a bit earlier than many expected. The injury was expected to keep him out 4-6 weeks. This week was the fourth week.
With starting point guard Jeff Peterson back east at his grandfather's funeral, Freeman's presence was sorely needed. Iowa's leading returning scorer from a year ago checked in with 12:22 to play in the first half. He promptly canned a trey on his first attempt.
Freeman played 24 minutes on Wednesday, netting 15 points and three assists. He connected on his first four field goal attempts and finished 5 of 7 from the floor, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. .
Minute Men: The breakdown of playing time against UNI - Cole (19), Looby (19), Angle (21), Johnson (38), Kelly (38), Tate (20), Freeman (24), Gorney (20), Palmer (1).
Statistically Speaking: The Hawkeyes shot 10 of 17 from 3-point land and 22-44 overall for the game. Iowa outrebounded the Panthers, 37-16, including 13-7 on the offensive end.
Iowa did turn it over 18 times and were outscored 20-11 on points off of giveaways.
-Iowa opened the game with Johnson, Kelly, Angle, Cole and Looby. It was Angle's first start of the season and third of his career.
-Wednesday marked the first time that Iowa played against former Hawkeye Carlton Reed, who sat out last season after transferring to UNI after the 2005-06 season. The Waterloo East graduate did not play on Wednesday, however. The Hawkeyes will see another former team member on Saturday in Iowa State's Alex Thompson, who left Iowa City around the same time as did Reed.
-UNI's student section, named Jake's Jungle after head coach Ben Jacobson, impressed. It took up roughly one third of the 7,000 plus seats in the McLeod Center.
-Iowa opened the game in a 1-3-1 zone defense.
-Kelly scored seven of Iowa's first nine points. The freshman finished with a career-high 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point land.
-The Hawkeyes had lost two straight to UNI and four of the last six, but improved 31-7 against the Panthers.