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Thursday, November 10, 2005
Iowa 75, Wartburg 48
Iowa put forth another great defensive effort, but its offense took long enough to take over that Wartburg kept the score close well into the second half. The Hawks only managed 28 points in a first half marred by turnovers and poor shooting, which they attributed to not spending much time against a zone defense in practice.

It also seemed like Wartburg outhustled Iowa early on, which makes at least a little sense. I hate to make excuses for Iowa's lethargic play, but this is one of the bigger games Wartburg will play all year, while Iowa treated it more like an extension of their training. It sounded like they went hard in practice before this game to simulate the two-games-in-two-days situations they'll face two to three times in the next month. That said, they'll have to play with more energy than they did in the first half tonight if they want to be successful in the Guardian's Classic.

Back to Iowa's defense - it was stifling. They held IIAC Player of the Year Nate Schmidt to 13 points on 5-17 shooting. He might be skilled enough to handle the Coe's and Simpson's of the world, but he seemed rather overmatched by Iowa's size inside. He struggled to get a good shot off unless he was 16 feet from the basket, which I can be happy with. Iowa also held second-leading scorer Jason Steege to 7 points on 1-12 shooting, and forced 4 turnovers. Most of the credit goes to Mike Henderson, whose pesky step-for-step defense hounded Steege for 3/4 of the court. His physical play seemed to frustrate Steege, though it did cost Mike a couple of blocking fouls near midcourt. Overall, Wartburg managed only 48 points on roughly 71 possessions, which is a ridiculously low 68 per 100. They turned the ball over on about 34% of their possessions, which is also very poor. Give the Hawks some credit.

Offensively, Iowa was pretty dull at the outset. Call it tired legs or underestimation of the opponent, but they didn't have it together. How to remedy such a situation? Either (1) bring your most athletic player off the bench, or (2) bounce your head off the floor to inspire your teammates. Doug Thomas provided the spark from the bench that he so often brought last year, finishing with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. Meanwhile, in what was certainly the most talked about play of the game, Jeff Horner chose option two. Hoping to bring the team out of its lull and inspire some hustle, Jeff dove headfirst for a loose ball near midcourt. Sometimes players in a similar situation can slide on the wood, but friction got the better of Horner, and his forward momentum got transferred to his head, which bounced hard and sent a tooth flying. There was a short pause as people searched the floor for the tooth, which was found some 40 feet down the court under the basket. Ouch. That's probably where I call it a night and head to the dentist, but Horner was actually back in a matter of minutes.

This, naturally, led to some good-hearting ribbing from the rest of the team.

"After three years of living in his shadow, I guess I get to be the cute one, finally." - Greg Brunner

"He lost a tooth. I think a cheerleader found it. He'll get that under his pillow tonight - the tooth, not the cheerleader." - Coach Alford

As for the rest of the team - Adam Haluska was cold again from the outside. I'd really like to see him get the ball inside more often like he did at the end of last year, because he just looks unstoppable in close. He'll be one of the better scorers in the conference if/when that jumper starts to drop.

Tony Freeman snuck inside for a couple layups and hit a long two-point jumper, and was strong defensively on Steege when Henderson was out of the game. It troubles me some that neither Freeman nor Henderson have anything close to the court vision of Horner, but that's probably too high of a standard by which to measure a freshman.

Erek Hansen played well defensively again, including a block on a three-point attempt, but his lack of hands and athleticism cost Iowa a couple times on the offensive end.

Nothing else too remarkable. Next game is Monday night against Marlyland-Eastern Shore in the first round of the Guardian's Classic.
Did Carlton Reed have any court time? I used to think he had more potential than his former teammate, Henderson, but it seems like he has fallen off of everyone's radar. Any thoughts?
Hey Bonny - Reed played 31 minutes between the two exhibition games, and actually dropped 11 points on Brock. He's been in a variety of lineups, and even played a little SF, as Alford does some early-season tinkering. He looks fine, but I expect Alford will give Freeman every opportunity to play ahead of him, and with Thompson able to play both forward spots, there won't be a lot of minutes left for Reed later in the year.
I was at the game. I agree that it is one of Wartburg's bigger games and a ho-hum for Iowa, but I have a different take. If I was Alford, I'd be pissed. Your offense comes and goes, but your defense needs to be there every night. Defense is an attitude and a lot of hustle. Iowa was definitely out-hustled in this game by Wartburg. Yeah, Iowa has a better team, but shouldn't they? It should have been 25 at half time. Instead it was still a 10 point game with 9 minutes left. It seemed the only guy out there hustling was Horner.

You commented on Nate Schmidt's woes and on Jason Steege's game. I thought Steege played OK, and I thought Schmidt did well at the high post. Wartburg will do well in the IIAC this year; maybe even get into the D3 tournament (instead of getting screwed out of a Pool C bid like last year). Also, I saw no quit in the Wartburg players; I didn't get that indication from the Iowa team. Even a friend of mine who bleeds black and gold told me that Wartburg plays more as a team than Iowa.

I played D3 hoops and I've played against some guys who have since retired from the NBA (Grayer, Hornacek, Stevens) and I can tell you that there's a huge difference between D1 and D3. But it isn't in basketball sense or ability; you could see that in Wartburg's team. The big difference is in athleticism. You see guys like Haluska (6'5") and Brunner (6'7") dunking a lot. In D3, you'll see the same sized guys doing layups - they don't have the athleticism to get up and dunk. Also, you won't see the really big guys any more. I played against some 7 footers in the Iowa Conference (I'm 6'7") but you don't see guys that size in D3 any more - they all go D1 or D2.

One other observation as a former coach: Iowa as a team does NOT box out well. Again, that goes back to athleticism. If you've gotten by without doing it your entire career, why start now? Wartburg ended up scrapping and getting some rebounds they had no business getting simply because Hansen, Thomas and Thompson don't box out, not even inconsistently. (Brunner does box out and does it VERY well.) If this keeps up, it will haunt Iowa during the season. Again, this is something I'd be pissed about. Coach Levick had one sign in the locker room: "You can shoot too much, you can pass too much, you can foul too much and you can dribble too much. But you can't rebound too much."

Oh, one more thing that my wife noticed: Doesn't Brunner look like he's 40 now with the lack of hair?
Thanks for the perspective, Bill. I agree with you on the boxing out - Iowa can get at times get beaten there. I like the Levick sign, too. When it comes to rebounding, disadvantages in height, athleticism, etc, can be made up for with good technique and pure desire, which Wartburg showed on Wednesday.
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