Jan. 29, 2005
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Head Coach Steve Alford drastically changed his starting lineup for the first time this season Saturday prior to taking on the Indiana Hoosiers.
Forward Alex Thompson, center Doug Thomas, and guards Carlton Reed and Mike Henderson took over for Greg Brunner, Erek Hansen, Pierre Pierce and Jeff Horner. They were the first career starts for Reed, Thompson and Henderson. Thomas had one start earlier this year against Drake on Nov. 30.
Horner had previously started every game in his 79-game career.
Brunner, a junior, had started 31-straight games and 68 of 79 games in his career. His last non-start was at Michigan on Jan. 28, 2004.
Junior Pierre Pierce had started 38 games and 80 of 83 overall. His last non-start was at Wisconsin on Feb. 19, 2002.
Junior Erek Hansen had started all 18 games this season in which he played, missing the game at Drake due to injury. Hansen had not started any games prior to this season.
Alford rotated in Pierce, Horner and Brunner at 17:32 in the first half. Hansen came in at 16:09 in the first.
The decision to sit the starters happened on Thursday’s practice, according to Pierce.
“In practice (Coach Alford) told me, Jeff and Bru to turn into gold, and those are the consequences of losing a game where we had a lead like that,” Pierce said, referring to Wednesday’s loss at Northwestern. “We took responsibility for that. And it’s coach’s decision. Whatever we have to do, we’ll do it. Whatever price we have to pay, we’ll pay it.”
Iowa gave up a 12-point lead with three minutes left on Wednesday and lost to the Wildcats 75-74 in overtime at Evanston. Alford said the lineup changes should be viewed as consequences for the loss.
“I think all three of them responded the way I thought they would respond.”
Head Coach Steve Alford
“I just felt like those individuals needed some consequences because they’re no different than the rest of the team,” the coach said. “They’ve been tremendous all year, but I thought the three captains just didn’t perform the way they have to perform in the Northwestern game down the stretch.”
Alford said he knew the consequences would not last long, and indeed the captains were out only 2 1/2 minutes.
“I think it was just that message,” Alford said. “I think all three of them responded the way I thought they would respond.”
Horner, who said he couldn’t remember the last time he did not start a game, said that he was angry at the decision at the start.
“You’re a little mad at first, and that’s a natural reaction,” Horner said. “I’m a captain and I have to be held to a higher standard. We deserved to get benched, and that’s what happened. But we came out and showed what we could do.”
Pierce nailed a layup seconds after he came back, and he had a game-high 25 points overall. Horner had 16 and Brunner had 13 points overall. Another bright side was the 54 bench points Iowa produced.
“That’s the most bench points we’ve had all year,” Alford said. “We’ve talked about developing our bench, and I think our bench has really developed.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com