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College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

September 9th, 2006


Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford


Last year, Iowa won 25 games, the Big Ten conference tournament, and made the NCAA Tournament.  Yet after losing four impressive senior contributors, things wont come so easily this time around.  Still, Steve Alford has to be feeling good about his future after bringing in some solid newcomers and getting a hefty pay raise this summer.


Shawn Siegel (CHN): You lose as much senior talent as any team out there.. guys like Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner were stars. How will you deal with the losses?


Steve Alford (SA): Replacing the senior class will be a great challenge.  Doug Thomas was the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year and Erek Hansen was the Defensive Player of the Year.  Greg Brunner is Iowa’s career rebounding leader and Jeff Horner is the career assist leader.  We wont 79 games over the last four years, due mainly to the play of Brunner and Horner and the other seniors.  Over the last four years, with Jeff at the point, we didn’t have many questions as to who would have the ball in crucial situations.

Adam Haluska and Mike Henderson have had two good seasons playing with those seniors.  Now they have to step up their leadership roles, while continuing to improve their game on the court.  Both are outstanding student-athletes who will do what is necessary, which goes back to learning how to win over the past few seasons.


CHN: What will the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s team to be?

SA:  Strengths:  I hope a strength of this team will be the confidence that has been built from past success, especially the last two years.  The leadership provided by the 2006 seniors has established something in our locker room that is special, that is winning.  We have enough returning players that know what it takes.  They know now what is expected of them at a very high level and what is necessary to be successful.

I think our backcourt will be as athletic as we have had here.  We have experience in Adam Haluska, Mike Henderson and Tony Freeman, and the new guys add depth.  Tyler Smith and Justin Johnson are two big guards who are athletic and long.  They can score on their own, they are good defenders and they both have experience, Justin in two years of junior college and Tyler in one season at prep school.

Weaknesses:  Replacing the senior class will be a great challenge.  The front court is interesting in that we have three players that don’t have a lot of experience.  Seth Gorney and Kurt Looby know our system.  Cyrus Tate is a left-handed player who should help us immediately on both offense and rebounding.  We’ll have to see how this group responds to playing major minutes.


CHN: Talk about one or two of your guys that stands out as being an unheralded leader and contributor?


SA: I think this goes back to my response in the last question.  The veterans on this team that have been here the last two years have learned a tremendous amount from the 2006 seniors.  They now know what it takes to compete at this level, and more importantly, what it takes to win at this level.  From protecting the home court, as we did last year, to winning a tough road game and winning three straight games to win the Big Ten Tournament.  The returning players on this team have learned over the last two years what goes in to winning at this level and they have an understanding of how hard they must work all the time.

CHN: What should we expect out of the incoming players. Who will make the biggest impact?

 Tyler Smith is a special player.  He is obviously gifted athletically, he’s strong and he is mature.  He has a great demeanor and will be a tremendous teammate.  He’s a very good defender who can take over a game at both ends.  He can create his own scoring opportunity, yet he is very unselfish.

Justin Johnson, is long and athletically and a very good shooter.  He can play any of the three guard positions and he works hard at the defensive end as well.  With Justin having two years of junior college experience and Tyler a year of prep school, we are adding some pretty good maturity to our backcourt.

Cyrus Tate is a left handed post players who adds a different dimension.  He is a hard worker who improved with one year of junior college.  He is a hard worker and will be a solid player for us in both with both his scoring and rebounding ability.


CHN: Obviously everyone knows you played for Coach Knight, but who are your biggest coaching influences? Do you still hear fromt ehm today?

SA: Playing for Coach Knight at Indiana, I was able to play the game of basketball under one of the top coaches of all time, and I continue to learn from him all the time.  My father, Sam Alford, was a high school basketball coach throughout his career, so obviously all the things I learned from dad throughout my life, both in and out of basketball, will also be special to me.


Realistically, what expectations have you placed on this team?


SA: We’re not putting any goals or expectations on this team.  We have a number of new players and three new coaches on the staff.  We’ve had a very good summer as far as working towards being ready to start in the Fall.  We know we are young and inexperienced, but we’re excited about the possibilities.



CHN: Thanks coach.  Good luck.


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