Nov. 16, 2003
IOWA CITY, IA. — Sophomore forward Greg Brunner stepped in for an injured Glen Worley and snagged 13 rebounds and seven points as Iowa closed its exhibition season with an 81-64 win over Athletes in Action on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes (2-0) improved their defensive performance, keeping AiA from scoring until 13:24 in the first half, after a shaky start against the EA All-Stars in the Miracle Game last week.
Despite getting a 15-point lead through the first seven minutes, Iowa couldn’t control the court and Joe Crispin, a former Penn State standout guard, scored 19 points for AiA to close the gap 37-34 by halftime.
However, thanks to a stronger performance from the two true freshmen, Ben Rand and Mike Henderson, Iowa didn’t let go of the game in the second half and outscored AiA, 44-30.
The Hawkeyes fired 45.3 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line, while AiA could only muster 32.8 percent from the field but an 81.3 percent from the line.
“I thought this was better, and we really want to look for improvement anytime you go game to game,” said coach Steve Alford. “I thought we really addressed some things defensively in the last four days. I thought we had some young guys really guard tonight and really gave it an effort.”
According to Brunner, defense was “heavily emphasized” at practices through the week.
“Our defense really stepped it up a notch this afternoon,” said the 6-foot-7, 240-pound native of Charles City, IA. “We’ve been really competitive and really talkative and getting after each other [in practices].”
Brunner was just 2-for-4 from the field, but had one assist, one block and one steal.
Pierre Pierce led the offense going 8-for-17, scoring 19 points with nine rebounds and four assists. Jared Reiner was close behind with 12 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and two blocks and an assist.
“Our team is really starting to play better together. We’re getting used to each other’s moves and it’s showing on the court. We had a 10-2 run and a great first 10 minutes.”
Forward Greg Brunner
“Our team is really starting to play better together,” Brunner said. “We’re getting used to each other’s moves and it’s showing on the court. We had a 10-2 run and a great first 10 minutes.”
AiA had 18 turnovers that led to 19 points for the Hawkeyes, however, Iowa let 18 go as well, which gave AiA 17 points themselves.
Alford says that number has to come down before the Hawkeyes start regular season action by hosting NCAA Tournament qualifier UNC-Asheville on Nov. 23.
“Without question,” said Alford. “I liked our intensity better. I thought we had six or seven turnovers I clapped on because I thought they were aggressive. I don’t mind aggressive turnovers, I just don’t like the passive, careless turnovers.
“We have to be able to take care of the basketball.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com