Monday, February 07, 2005

Pierce Betrayed His Iowa Teammates As Well As Alford

Steve Alford recalls vividly what his first reaction was when he heard that Pierre Pierce was in more trouble.

“I can’t believe that this is happening,”

That was the thought running through the mind of the Iowa coach.

Alford used the words “betrayal of trust” when saying last week that he was kicking Pierre Pierce off the Hawkeye basketball team.

He used the word “betrayal” again today on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference.

“When you’re given a second chance and you have to go through what everybody went through the first time around, I think there’s a sense of trust you build,” Alford said of his fallen star. “That’s what hurts the most.

“It wasn’t so much the betrayal of me. It was the betrayal of the team. He was a captain and he was counted on greatly. We’re having a very good year. We’re off to a very good start, and now we’ve got to revamp and kind of redo everything Feb. 1.”

Alford, who has coached in an atmosphere of controversy throughout much of his time at Iowa, said, “I just try to make the right decisions. Obviously, I don’t always make the right decisions.

“The first time through, whether it’s Pierre Pierce or who it might have been, I think kids deserve second chances. He was awarded that. It wasn’t just my decision. The whole process really was out of my hands. That’s not how it’s always viewed.

“The second chance was as much institutionally as it was me, and law enforcement as much as it was me. I just felt that—this time around—you’re only given so many be part of a team. I love Pierre to death and I hope things work out the best for him. The dismissal was the only option I had this time.”

Iowa will take records of 3-5 in the Big Ten and 13-5 overall into Wednesday night’s game at Wisconsin. Don’t look for anything good to happen there. The Badgers hardly ever lose at home.


Interesting, wasn’t it, that Iowa finally drew a sellout crowd of 15,500 Saturday for the Michigan State game—AFTER Pierce was dismissed from the team?

Of the Hawkeyes’ attendance problems, the Chicago Tribune wrote:

“A once large and vocal Iowa crowd diminished noticeably, particularly a student section that went from approximately 4,000 three years ago to less than 500 this season.

“I was going to stop going,” said Brian McMillen, 20, a sophomore from Johnston, Ia. “But not because of Pierce, because of Alford. None of the students like Alford. They think he’s an arrogant guy and not taking the program in the right direction.”


Whenever Paul Morrison says something, take it to the bank that it’s true.

Morrison is Drake’s 87-year-old athletic department historian, and if you ask him about something that happened at the university, chances are good that he’ll have an answer for you—or know where to go to get the answer.

Morrison maybe wasn’t on the scene when Dr. James Naismith got hold of that peach-basket and invented the game of basketball, but I’ll bet he had coffee with the good doctor a short time later to tell him how much he enjoyed the sport.

I called Morrison this morning, and knew he’d be at work despite the snow that fell overnight. I also knew he’d be in his office despite being a non-driver.

“They sent a car over to pick to me up,” he said. “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in a half-hour, but what I help you with?”

I told him that Drake sports information director Mike Mahon had written for my pages Saturday night that the Bulldogs’ 76-72 overtime victory at Evansville accounted for the biggest comeback in school history. Tom Davis’ team rallied from a 19-point deficit.

“What’s the next-biggest comeback?” I asked Morrison.

Now remember, Morrison once answered a question for me on a night when he was lying in a hospital bed a few years ago. So I knew he’d have the answer today.

“We were down by 16 points, 54-38, against Northern Iowa on Jan. 24, 1999,” Morrison said. “We ended up winning, 78-72.

“There were two better comebacks, but we lost both of those games. We were down by 20 points to Colorado State, but lost by 7, and we were down by 17 to UNI and lost by 6.”

Thanks, Paul.

You’re the greatest.

Vol. 4, No. 306
Feb. 7, 2005