DALLAS - Steve Alford has shared some big victories with Bob Knight. Now he wants a win over his former coach.
Alford played on the last of Knight’s three national championship teams at Indiana and for the gold medal-winning team at the 1984 Olympics.
As a coach, he’s 0-2 against Knight.
Alford gets another chance Monday night when Iowa (6-1) plays Texas Tech, Knight’s post-Indiana team.
“He’s been working us hard. We’ve been running if we make turnovers and he’s been on us hard about free throws,” Iowa guard Mike Henderson said. “I think he’s really into it this game.”
Knight downplays the significance of playing a game against Alford.
“I’ve coached against so many players that have played for me or coaches that have coached for me that I’ve liked as I like Steve, that I’ve kind of gotten used to it,” he said.
The first two meetings against Alford came when Knight was still at Indiana. Alford’s Southwest Missouri team lost 78-66 in 1997-98 and his first Iowa team four years ago lost 74-71.
The Red Raiders (9-2) have won five straight games since a 62-59 loss at SMU three weeks ago, their last appearance in Dallas. After that game, Knight was upset about the profanity he claimed was directed at him and his team by unruly fans.
Texas Tech will be the “home” team in its return to Dallas, where about 35,000 alumni of the school live. Knight, already upset with declining attendance at games on the Lubbock campus, said the Red Raiders won’t come back if “they can’t support a basketball game.”
Iowa hasn’t played since its only loss of the season, 77-66 to Northern Iowa on Dec. 9. Alford is ready to see how he and his team stack up against Knight.
“I can’t think of another individual better to ‘X’ and ‘O’ with to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are than Coach Knight,” Alford said.
Still, after Alford took the Iowa job in 1999, he didn’t speak at length with Knight until calling his former coach and talking to him for about a half-hour last January. With his team struggling, Alford couldn’t think of anyone better to call.
Both Alford and Knight insist there are no problems with their relationship.
No matter how cool things may have gotten between the two since winning 92 games together at Indiana, there is plenty of mutual respect.
“I think because there’s so much centered on athletics there at Iowa without a close professional team or a baseball team or whatever that sometimes their (Iowa fans) expectations go a little bit beyond reality,” Knight said. “And I think that Steve has done an excellent job with the coaching job of it.”
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