Hoop Team Shows Improvement Heading Into Iowa

<p>Coach <strong>Tommy Amaker</strong> recently spoke to the media and addressed the progress of his team and previewed the Big Ten opener versus the Iowa Hawkeyes. Also of note, GBW was able to get an update on Daniel Horton's status late last night.</p>

On the status of Daniel Horton and Graham Brown:

"Actually, I don't have any news on where those guys are. We have no updated information. Actually the only news I have is Daniel may try to increase his workout. That was the only news I've heard over the last few days. Right now I think he is going to try to do a little more running and see how it feels cutting a little bit and maybe even jumping, so that kind of where we are with it."

Edt Note: Despite Horton's subsequent comments that he would definitely play, there was still a distinct possibility that he would not make the trip to Iowa as of yesterday morning. However, GBW was able to confirm late last evening that he did indeed fly out with the team, and it is possible that he sees some action. Whether he actually steps on the court looks to be a decision that will be made around game time.

On how his team has progressed since the injuries:

"I think we've grown with different sets of lineups, combinations, and circumstances. I think we settled in a little bit. I think we look more confident and more comfortable. That doesn't just mean because we won a couple of games I'm saying that. I mentioned it after the UCLA game as well. I think we've grown since that game and since the loss against BU. I think we're improving. Ronnie Coleman has improved. I think you see growth and development in that young man. Obviously Chris Hunter has improved. I think Courtney, after the holiday has been better, although I thought he was pretty good out at UCLA."

On Courtney Sims' improvement:

"I think we need to see Courtney remain at a high level. I think he has been a different player since the UCLA game and the holiday coming back. I know that his folks at home were interested in seeing him play better. They made that known to all of us...and most importantly known to Courtney. But I think he has taken it to heart. I think he has stepped his game up. I think he is a player that has shown, right now, that he is hungrier… which we love to see out of him. I think what he needs to do is to stay hungry and stay consistent. He has been a much better player for us, and we need him to be. We need Chris Hunter to continue to play the way that he is capable of playing. He has been terrific. I think his play has been the best that it has been in his career here. Certainly it couldn't come at a better time for us. We need Dion to play at a high level. Those are three good basketball players…two sophomores and a junior, that are capable of doing good things for our program."

On how practice has changed in lieu of the injuries:

"We've had to adjust some things in terms of not having the number of players to rotate into a practice. That has made our practices a little different. We have shortened the practices. We can't go as long, but we certainly have tried to maintain the intensity of a practice. Maybe that has not been the worst thing in the world for us. I think we've gotten a lot out of our practices. At times when the injuries were coming every day or every other day, you kind of wanted to pull back because you were concerned. We're a program and team right now that truly can't afford to have anyone else get injured…at least in practice. That's one of the areas we're concerned with all of the time with the banging and the contact. We've tried to slip that in at different moments while sill trying to get in the work we need without the physical nature all of the time, but we still have to do that."

On what his team, in its current state, must do to be successful in the Big Ten:

"When you look at our team right now, at moments we've struggled to score. I think a lot of it has been we're giving the ball away. I think we need to become a better team in terms of valuing the ball and having positive possessions. That doesn't mean we're going to score every time. That doesn't mean that we won't have turnovers. There are certain kinds of turnovers, certain possessions, and/or horrible shots that lead to a fast break by the other team. I think valuing the ball and having positive possessions will be key for us. I think we have to stay out of foul trouble. I think it is important that we play intelligent on the floor defensively. I think it is important that we adjust to the way the game is being played and called. I think those are going to be a few keys for us with the lineup and players that we have."

On Iowa:

"I think that they have been one of the hooter teams in the country. I think many people have been pleasantly surprised by their success thus far. I think they opened the year up in the Maui tournament and just played outstanding basketball. I think they're on a nine game winning streak. [Jeff] Horner (14.7 ppg), [Pierre] Pierce (17.1 ppg), and [Greg] Brunner (12.8 ppg) have played a lot together. They're experienced and tough. Now they've added [Adam}Haluska (13.7 ppg), the transfer player who is eligible this year. He is just a knockdown shooter. I think the kid [Erek] Hansen (3.92 bpg) has really improved. He is leading the conference in blocked shots. So they are really gelling. I've been very impressed watching them on tape. They're explosive. In Maui they were transition oriented. It was a fast paced game, so we anticipate them really wanting to get up and down the floor. That's always a plus for the hoe team. Our hands are full. We played them three times last year and the one loss we had against them was in Iowa City. They've been very tough to beat there."

On Ron Coleman being successful from the high post in the last game:

"That was against the zone, so playing in that spot is good for Ronnie. Not only can he shoot it when he is in there, but he has good size to look out and look over people. To have him in the middle of the floor against zones is good for us because he can shoot, but he can also look to make a pass because of his size. He was able to find that hole in there. He is playing very well. He has given us a big lift. He has taken some of the burden with perimeter scoring off of Dion's shoulders. I think the players really are confident in his ability and are looking for him and expecting him to take open shots. That's good. It has gotten to a point that I'm telling him he is taking some bad shots now. That's not a bad thing. We need him to think of himself as a very aggressive offensive player. Instead of me saying hey Ronnie look for a shot or be aggressive. I think he has done a really good job of feeling good and fitting in and yet starting to shoulder some of responsibility for this team especially on the offensive end."

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