Nov. 14, 2004
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IOWA CITY, IA. — Iowa snuck by Laval University 85-77 in the final exhibition game of the 2004-2005 season on Sunday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“This is a practice game, and this was a bad practice,” Alford said. “Laval had a lot to do with that, so I want to give them credit, but this wasn’t one of their better practices.”
Iowa starts regular season play against Western Illinois at 8:05 p.m. on Friday.
“By the time we get things going Friday, I hope to get our players to understand that we have to out-rebound our opponent by more than two and have more than 14 assists,” he added.
Much like against Upper Iowa on Wednesday, Iowa got off to another sluggish start offensively against the Canadians, who took an early 6-point lead off long shooting from Charles Fortier and Jean Philippe Morin who scored 12 and nine points respectively in the first half.
But the Hawkeyes went on a 23-8 run after taking their first lead at 13:50, sparked by Pierce who had five points back to back and went 4-for-7 for 12 points in the half. And despite the slow start, the Hawkeyes did manage 51 percent from the field in the half.
Alford said that finding a strong starting five will be essential before Friday.
“It matters that those guys that have started the last two games have done a real poor job of starting a game,” the coach said. “Obviously the start of the game is crucial for us, and we need to find five guys that can start games at a high level. Whoever that ends up being, we don’t know, but the group we’ve had hasn’t done a very good job with it.”
Point guard Jeff Horner said that he doesn’t know why the starting five of Greg Brunner, Erek Hansen, Pierre Pierce, Mike Henderson and himself haven’t produced more in the opening minutes.
“We just seem not to be electrified,” he said. “I don’t know what the problem is. They came out ready to play and we didn’t. We have to change that.”
Iowa took an 11-point lead – it’s largest of the first half – with just more than four minutes remaining; however, Laval countered with a 10-0 run forcing Alford to call timeout with 1:15 on the clock.
The break was just what the Hawkeyes needed. Pierce and Henderson added three points off free throws, and substitute Carlton Reed ended the first half with a long 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to go up 44-33 at intermission.
The coach said that Reed, who scored 11 points off the bench for the game, has been the biggest bright spot through the exhibition season.
“He sits there and you throw him in there with four seconds left and he makes the shot,” Alford said. “I’ve really been impressed with the way he’s played. He’s practiced well, and he’s played well. It’s very encouraging for a freshman this early on in the season.”
Reed said he has really focused on his shooting and defense in the off-season.
“I’m just doing what I know I can do,” he said. “I know my role coming in was to fit in as a shooter and be on defense. Pretty much all I’ve been focusing on is knocking down shots when I can get them.
“I’ve been doing a good job of that so far.”
Star transfer, sophomore Adam Haluska, saw his first action of the 2004-2005 season at 14:29 in the first half. And 7-foot freshman center Seth Gorney got his first minutes with just more than 2 ½ minutes left in the first.
Both Haluska and Gorney had been out of commission with injuries, and Alford limited the pair’s minutes. They had just 16 combined for the game.
The Carroll, IA.-native couldn’t convert on three attempts and had just two rebounds all in the first half.
The coach said that Haluska still needs time to recover from the hip flexor injury and abdominal strain he sustained two weeks ago.
“He’s tentative,” Alford said. “This was his first time going up and down, and we didn’t know if we were going to get 15 minutes out of him. His timing is off, and hopefully he can get some good treatment tonight and tomorrow and hopefully by Tuesday he’ll be full go and can get his timing back by Friday.”
Whether he makes the starting lineup, though, is anyone’s guess yet.
“I don’t know,” Haluska said. “We’ll have to see where that goes. Starting isn’t the most important thing to me. The team comes first, and I can honestly tell you whoever starts on Friday will be fine with me.”
“He sits there and you throw him in there with four seconds left and he makes the shot. I’ve really been impressed with the way he’s played. He’s practiced well, and he’s played well. It’s very encouraging for a freshman this early on in the season.”
Head Coach Steve Alford on Carlton Reed
Laval kept it competitive in the second half and got the score to within five points with just about seven minutes to go off an inbounds steal and a big transition lay-up by Etienne Wilsey.
Iowa’s man-to-man defense kept the Canadians at just that though and surged midway through the second half stalling several Laval drives. But through the game, the Hawkeye defense didn’t impress the coach.
“I thought (Laval) played very well and very hard, and they did a nice job of exploiting all the weaknesses we have defensively,” Alford said. “I’ve been saying it for a month, the difference in where our season goes will be what we do defensively.”
Alford called the team “selfish” defensively, saying that the players didn’t concentrate on the help side only focusing on a specific man.
“We weren’t concerned about help, only our own guy,” the coach said. “And we can’t play defense that way. It’s not about shutting out your guy; it’s about doing your job from a team defensive standpoint.”
Iowa won the rebounding war 37-35, and Laval’s shooting percentage went up by 20 between the halves and beat the Hawkeyes 44-41 in the second. And the Canadians added 22 points onto their production from Saturday night when Northern Illinois defeated it 94-55 in DeKalb.
“We didn’t play very well tonight,” Horner said. “I think we took a step backwards, and that’s why they’re exhibition games. It’s just a lot of stuff, just a combination of things. You have to give them a lot of credit. They hit a lot of shots, and we just got switched up on a lot of things, and our communication has got to improve.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com