Motivation, Big Ten Style

Oct. 27, 2003

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Coach Steve Alford’s 2003-04 Iowa Hawkeyes weren’t among the teams selected to finish among the top three this year in the Big Ten Conference at the league’s annual media day. However, just because the Hawkeyes weren’t included in that group doesn’t mean they aren’t a force to be reckoned with in the eyes of Alford’s peers.

“I think Iowa’s going to be good,” Purdue’s Gene Keady told the Des Moines Register. “They have the league’s leading rebounder (Jared Reiner) and Glen Worley. They have the kid back that didn’t play last year (Pierre Pierce). Plus, I really like Jeff Horner.”

So, all is not lost. The dean of the Big Ten coaches has a check mark by the Hawkeyes in his black book. But, Keady also has everyone else checked.

The Hawkeyes will stage their annual Black and Gold Basketball Blowout Saturday at 3 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“This is the best the conference has been top to bottom since I’ve been here,” said Keady, a veteran of 24 Big Ten seasons. “Some years we’ve been strong at the top and weak at the bottom. I just know that with everyone coming back, everyone’s going to be hard to beat.”

For the record, the coaches and media were in agreement: Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin were picked 1-2-3 in both polls.

Perhaps the only upset of the event was the fact that Iowa’s Reiner, the Big Ten’s leading rebounder a year ago, was left off the pre-season all-Big Ten teams selected by the media and the coaches.

“That hurts a little bit,” Reiner told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “But it’s all motivation for you, knowing you have to work that much hard, that you have more people that aren’t thinking you’re as good.”

Reiner averaged 9.8 points and 8.2 rebounds last season, his junior year. Alford thinks he’s one of the league’s top players and still thinks so.

“It is surprising,” Alford said of Reiner’s snub. “Yet it’s good motivation for Jared because Jared is the Big Ten’s leading rebounder and he’s back.”