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?
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.
will the strengths and weaknesses of
this year’s team to be?
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.