Haluska: A Hawk Who Found His Groove

March 11, 2005

Steve Haluska would always make sure that the Carroll High School gym was available when his sons needed it for a late-night or weekend shoot-around. As the principal of the school, he was there anyway, so his children, Sean and Adam, got in a lot of practice.

The extra time paid off. Sean earned first team all-state honors in Class 3A when he was a junior in high school last year. And Adam was named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year, among a litany of other honors and awards he earned in 2002.

After those late-night and weekend shoot-arounds, but before Adam became a starter on Iowa’s team this season, the Haluskas were thrown into a mini-torrent of speculation and rumor. Adam was accused of being a traitor to a Division I-A school, and Steve was accused of being behind it all.

Adam Haluska committed to Iowa State University in high school, and he played basketball under then-Head Coach Larry Eustachy his freshman year. When Eustachy and much of his coaching staff resigned, Haluska – the only scholarship freshman on the team – thought it was time to go too.

Haluska’s transfer to Iowa following his 2002-2003 freshman year at ISU sparked the rumor mill. On came the taunts for Adam, and Steve Haluska was singled out too – as some kind of transfer mastermind. The guff his family had to take concerning his transfer remains a lingering wound for the 21-year-old sophomore.

“I think my family took a lot of heat about the decision,” he said earlier this season. “People thought my father made the decision for me. They didn’t realize how much I wasn’t enjoying it.”

Haluska says that basketball – his singular hobby and focus in life – had become a chore in his waning days at Iowa State.

“I didn’t want to be on the court,” he said. “I dreaded practice, and that shouldn’t be. You should come to practice everyday wanting to be there and wanting to be better. I remember growing up playing basketball and always wanting to go to the gym. I was the first one there and the last one to leave.”

“I always admired the way Coach Alford handled his players and the way the players look up to him.

“I think that makes you want to become better, and it does make you better. You work hard and you want to do well, and it’s good to have people backing you.”

Unhappy, and perhaps a little lost without his life’s passion, Haluska decided to follow what he says was his lifelong dream: being a Hawkeye.

“I grew up a Hawkeye,” he said. “I always loved Iowa basketball. It’s just one of those things where it worked out perfect and Iowa had a scholarship available.”

“I think Adam’s situation was very unusual with everything that was going on at that time,” said Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford. “To be honest, Adam has always been a Hawk. I think this is where he’s wanted to be all along.”

Haluska not only agrees with his coach, but the 6-foot-5 guard also stresses the importance of the player-coach relationship.

“I always admired the way Coach Alford handled his players and the way the players look up to him,” he said. “I think that makes you want to become better, and it does make you better. You work hard and you want to do well, and it’s good to have people backing you.”

Haluska – like so many on the team – did Alford’s “50-Minute All-American Workout” video while in high school, and he also watched Alford’s mentor, Bobby Knight, with his father.

“We liked that style,” Haluska says.

Alford says Haluska’s eagerness and love of Iowa basketball shows.

“I think this has been a great fit,” he says. “He has fit in here since day one. We’re real excited about our next few years with him.”

Now that Haluska is finally on the team – and starting – he’s had to deal with another set of problems entirely. Where the guard had to sustain mental blows prior to the season, Haluska’s had to work back from physical injuries for the first time in his career.

Iowa’s Adam Haluska

The sophomore pulled stomach and groin muscles that took him out of the preseason exhibition games and made him questionable for the season opener against Western Illinois. And most recently, Haluska’s battled back spasms that took him out of Iowa’s game at Ohio State.

“I was never injured last year, and I wasn’t injured at Iowa State,” Haluska said., “but these are just minor bumps in the road. It was tough sitting out, but I’m ready to go now. Everything’s going well.”

Well is an understatement. Haluska is carrying a big load for the Hawkeyes as evidenced by the fact that he’s the team’s leading scorer with an average of 14.4 points per game as of Iowa’s 20th victory, a 71-52 win over Purdue Thursday in the first round of the 2005 Big Ten Tournament.

Haluska scored a game-high 17 points against the Boilermakers. It was his 10th straight double-digit effort, a streak that started with a season-best 24 points against Michigan State – today’s opponent at the United Center.

“I’m enjoying my time here and the Iowa fans,” Haluska said earlier this season. “I’m starting to find my groove.”

Hawk fans would say they’re enjoying him and he has certainly found his groove.