Nov. 9, 2005
IOWA CITY — The Hawkeyes got the test Head Coach Steve Alford wanted for his team Wednesday as they prepare for the start of the regular season.
Iowa defeated a scrappy Wartburg College team, 75-48, inside Carver-Hawkeye arena in the last exhibition game before hosting Maryland-Eastern Shore at 7:35 p.m. in the opening round of the Guardians Classic on Monday.
A 2-3 zone defense by the Knights threw off the usually man-to-man-oriented Hawkeyes in the first half, and their Division III opponent kept within seven points at halftime, 28-21.
“That’s one of the neat things about playing the in-state schools,” Alford said. “It’s a tough contest and we knew we’d get a fight tonight. That was very good prep for us where we had some four-minute games where we had some adversity.”
Alford said zone defense was one of the last things his teams prepare for during the preseason practices.
“Man’s the last thing we get to and that showed up tonight,” he said.
The Knights got to within four after the break, but Iowa started to go inside to forward Greg Brunner, who paced the Hawkeyes with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
“They’re 3-2 zone was very successful,” Brunner said. “I think that made us a little stagnant in the first half, and we finally attacked it in the second half.”
Iowa put Wartburg away with a 17-3 run in the final three minutes as junior Mike Henderson scored six points and got an assist in the stretch. For the game, he went 5 of 6 for 10 points.
“We really focused on getting inside to Bru and taking advantage of his height,” Henderson said. “(During halftime) coach got on the guards about getting in the gaps and penetrating.”
Henderson was impressed by a Wartburg defense that limited Iowa to 12 of 30 shooting (40 percent) in the first half.
“I think we were kind of shocked by how hard they came out and competed,” he said. “They’re other Iowa guys, and they really seized the moment and took the opportunity. We came out laid back and complacent and they came out and gave us a great game.”
Alford said Division III players are usually underestimated.
“I think there’s not enough credit given to kids who play at that level,” the coach said. “Our guys learned some good things tonight and they responded well through some adversity. I thought they weren’t truly prepared for how strongly Wartburg was going to get into them.”
“After three years of living in his shadow, I’m finally the cute one. He was always joking with me about black eyes, so I finally got to joke with him.”
Greg Brunner on Jeff Horner’s lost tooth
Senior Jeff Horner found out first-hand. He lost a tooth 12 minutes into the game, which stopped play. It was later recovered by a cheerleader.
“So he’s going to get that under his pillow tonight – the tooth, not the cheerleader,” Alford joked. “He’s going to have to see the dentist tomorrow and get that straightened out. I always want to make sure I’m clear in (the press room).”
Brunner found humor in the incident, too.
“I was just joking with him, `Now I’m finally the cute one,'” Brunner said. “After three years of living in his shadow, I’m finally the cute one. He was always joking with me about black eyes, so I finally got to joke with him.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com