SEASON TO DATE
There might not be any team in the nation that has already played two top-ten teams at this early juncture of the season, save the Hawkeyes. Iowa beat then #7 Kentucky last week in Kansas City, holding the Wildcats to zero points in transition. They lost the next night to #2 Texas by nine points after leading for more than 30 minutes of the game. Iowa enters the game ranked 14/15 in the polls.
Iowa returns 84.6% of its scoring from 2005, 90.9% of its rebounding, 81.6% of its assists and 78.5% of its steals. Iowa's returning players shot 45.5% from the field, 38.7% from three-point range and 71.9% from the free throw line. The Hawkeyes return their statistical leader from last season in all categories,
IOWA IN CARVER-HAWKEYE ARENA
Iowa has compiled a 280-80 (.778) record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa is 148-13 (.919) in non-Big Ten games. Iowa has drawn over five million fans for men's basketball games since the arena opened in 1983. Capacity is 15,500. Iowa has posted a 72-25 (.742) home record under Coach Steve Alford, including a 45-4 (.918) mark in non-conference home games.
Iowa's enrollment (29,697) is 260 fewer students than are enrolled at NC State.
44 Greg Brunner F 6-7 240 Sr. 13.8/8.2: Powerful under the glass and quick on the blocks. Lost 15 pounds during the offseason. One of 50 players named to the pre-season Naismith watch list, the award that goes to the best player in college basketball. Selected to the USA Basketball team that played overseas this past summer.
34 Erek Hansen C 6-11 220 Sr. 7.0/4.4: One of the most prolific shot blockers in Iowa history. Led the nation in blocks per game last year. Prone to early foul trouble, a tendency to pick up fouls setting high screens or hedging high on defense. Decent offensive game, but does not look to score.
1 Adam Haluska G 6-5 210 Jr. 14.6/5.0: One of the greatest athletes in Iowa high school track and field history. Averaged nearly 20 points per game after January 24th of last year, after Pierre Pierce was removed from the team. Streaky shooter, big guard and a good defender.
2 Jeff Horner G 6-3 185 Sr. 11.2/3.0: The only player in Iowa history with more than 1,000 points, 400 assists and 400 rebounds, all of those numbers accumulated in three years. Joins Brunner on Naismith watch list. Off to a slow shooting start, but if he gets hot, he can single handedly win a game with his three point shooting. He is in range when he walks into the gym.
35 Mike Henderson G 6-2 190 Jr. 8.0/4.6: Great on ball defender and very good at getting the ball to the rim on offense. His ability to do that helped Iowa beat Michigan State in last year's Big Ten tournament, a win that punched Iowa's card to the dance and MSU went on to the Final Four.
Iowa goes a legit nine deep, perhaps ten deep. The Iowa reserves are averaging 22 points and 14.8 rebounds per game, compared to 12 points and 10.4 rebounds for the opponent reserves.
The first player off the bench and the most explosive and athletic player on Iowa's team, and one of the most athletic in the Big Ten, is 6-8, 250-pound forward Doug Thomas. He always looks for the dunk in transition and is a big asset on the glass and blocking shots. He is averaging seven rebounds per game and just under six points per game in 19.8 minutes per game.
The first guard off the bench is true freshman Tony Freeman. Freeman has not played like a freshman this year and is among the Big Ten's leaders in assist to turnover ratio (15 to 4). He is a full court on-ball defender, which is his biggest strength. He is not yet a scoring threat.
6-9 Alex Thompson is very active, but has yet to develop into a scorer on the low block. 6-4 guard Carlton Reed saw his first action last week against Texas. A good defender and another big guard for Iowa. Also has streaky touch from the outside.
IOWA WINS IF…
The Hawkeyes have to start shooting better from three point range. They are making less than 30 percent of their attempts and they have not been shy in shooting from long-range. Iowa needs to continue to play very good defense; Iowa opponents are shooting just .356 from the floor. Also, the Hawkeyes need to establish dominance in the paint, something they can do when Brunner and Thomas are in the game. Iowa has made more three throws than their opponents have attempted.
NC STATE WINS IF…
They contain Iowa's shooters and slow the game down. They also need to play break even on the glass, as Iowa was +10 on the offensive boards against Texas, a team with one of the best frontcourts in America.
TWO HAWKEYES NAMED TO NAISMITH WATCH LIST
Senior forward Greg Brunner and senior guard Jeff Horner are two of 50 players named as pre-season candidates for the Naismith Trophy, presented annually to the Player of the Year.
Brunner was named the Most Valuable Player in the Iowa City regional of the Guardians Classic. Brunner scored 16 points in each of the two Iowa wins and averaged 7.5 rebounds.
The Charles City native shot 57.1% from the field and 77.8% from the free throw line. He added four assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Brunner leads Iowa with an 8.2 rebounding average through five games and he is scoring 13.8 points per contest. He had scored in double figures in four of five games and had season high marks of 17 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Kentucky.
For the second straight season, Brunner is the top returning rebounder in the Big Ten. This marks the fourth time in the last five seasons Iowa has had the top returning rebounder. Reggie Evans led the league in rebounding in 2001 and returned to defend his title in 2002. Jared Reiner led the Big Ten in rebounding in 2003 and returned in 2004.
As has been the case in each of the past three seasons, Horner leads Iowa in assists. Horner has 34 assists in five games and is averaging 11.2 points per game. Horner has also converted all of his 12 free throws through five games and is tied for second on the team with six steals. Like Brunner, Horner has started 97 of the 98 games Iowa has played over the last three-plus seasons.
Horner and Brunner joined Iowa's 1,000 Point Club as juniors a year ago. Horner has scored 1,151 points (ranks 22nd) and is the only Iowa player ever to score over 1,000 points, grab over 400 rebounds and distribute over 400 assists. Horner was honorable mention all-Big Ten a year ago.
Horner is the only player in Iowa basketball history to record over 200 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in three different seasons. Horner is one of two players to accomplish the feat as a freshman.
Brunner has scored 1,104 career points (ranks 28th) and he has 717 rebounds. Brunner has ranked second in Big Ten rebounding in each of the past two seasons. He was named second team all-Big Ten last season and earned a gold medal at the World University Games last summer. Brunner ranks ninth in career blocked shots (87) and is near Iowa's top 10 in career rebounds.
PRE-SEASON ACCOLADES FOR IOWA
Athlon's Sports 2nd Round, NCAA
Dick Vitale, ESPN.com - - - 12th
ESPN.com - - - 16th
Blue Ribbon - - - 16th
Andy Katz, ESPN.com - - - 17th
The Sporting News - - - 9th
Sports Illustrated - - - 18th
USA Today/ESPN Poll - - - 20th