October 1, 2012
McCaffery ready to get started
For college basketball coaches, October 15th is one of the best days of the year. It marks the official start of practice and Fran McCaffery is excited to get going with a talented group of Hawkeye players. McCaffery talks about the upcoming start of practice, how he will manage a deeper and more talented roster, and he talks about two preseason events that the Hawkeyes will be participating in 2014 and 2015.
Q: About time to get rolling with the official start of practice.
McCAFFERY: Yeah, you know you get to a point where they have worked really hard on their own and we have had some skill development sessions, but it's time to put it all together, get ready, and start playing some ball games.
Q: How much did it help to have the summer practices this year to work with some of the incoming guys?
McCAFFERY: For us it was really important because we have five freshmen and we expect them to play. To be able to introduce the break, terminology, the offense, and the defensive concepts was really helpful.
Q: What did you see this summer that you really liked?
McCAFFERY: We don't really watch the Prime Time League because we're not allowed. I did watch one of the games on television, so I did see that. It was kind of what I thought. I do think it is a terrific thing that Randy Larsen does with that league, but it's a showcase league. There is no defense being played. It's still great for the guys to get out there and compete and get out there in the summer. For us to be able to bring our freshmen in and get our hands on them, it was the first time since I have been in this business that we have been able to actually work with them in the summer. Think about that for a second, I've been in the business for over 30 years. It was really something very different for all of us. When you have a recruiting class of five guys, it becomes really important.
Q: You really seem to have a lot of depth at key positions/
McCAFFERY: We do and we haven't had that before and it manifests itself in a lot of ways. Obviously it gives you the flexibility to play a lot of different lineups. What is also does it allows the players to push each other to get better. If you come to practice knowing you have that job locked up, you might not work as hard on a daily basis. If someone else is there, you will. You push each other in a healthy way and that's what I like about it.
Q: Patrick Ingram going to be ok?
McCAFFERY: Yeah, his foot is still bothering him. We were glad it wasn't a stress fracture. I would be surprised if he wasn't ready for the start of practice.
Q: Do you come into this season entertaining the idea of redshirting one or two freshmen?
McCAFFERY: I think this is a year that you would think about redshirting somebody. But, I don't make those decisions now because you don't really know if anyone could get hurt.
Q: How has Jarrod Uthoff fit in so far?
McCAFFERY: He has been great. He has fit in really well. He really likes the guys and they like him. He's comfortable with our style of play and he has a tremendous work ethic. He is in the gym all the time working on his own. I am really impressed with him.
Q: Was there anything about the summer that really surprised you as you look back upon it?
McCAFFERY: Not really. We kind of saw it coming and we were thrilled that the NCAA gave us some access back. I think it was wise on their part. I think they listened to the argument and a lot of that was what you would expect, they are our players and we brought them here, so we should be able to work with them. Of course they don't want us to demand and inordinate amount of hours in the summer. They want them to be able to do an internship or something like that and I get that. The other side of it that is when agents would sort of work their magic. A lot of agents don't work that way, but a lot of them do. It gives us a chance to keep our guys around, go to summer school and work them out. When you think about it, they are studying, getting stronger, and working on their game. That is what they should be doing.
Q: Do you think you can do more with this team as far as different styles of play and different tempos?
McCAFFERY: Exactly, I think we have enough skill to play half court and if we have to play more zone, we can do that. Clearly we can play fast because everyone we recruit, we have that in mind. We can go big. We can go small. We can go really big or we can go really small. It will be a fun team to coach in that regard.
Q: You put something out last week in an interview about going to Alaska and New York City in 2014 and 2015?
McCAFFERY: We are going to the Alaskan Shootout next year and the next year it is Rick Giles event at Madison Square Garden. I think it's us, Texas, Syracuse, and California.
Q: How did you get those two events put together?
McCAFFERY: I talked to the folks that run both events and I thought Alaska made sense for us next year. When Rick (Giles) approached us about his event that year and listening to the strength of the field, that is a decision that you have to think long and hard about. I have worked with Rick Giles in the past and he is a real professional. He runs terrific events and I felt like it was something that was sort of a reflection of our program and how far we have come that we would be invited to go to Madison Square Garden and play in that kind of a field. I was honored and I feel like our team has earned it. We need to take our team there and see how far we have come.
Q: Fans are pretty excited about this freshmen class. How anxious are you to see how they blend in?
McCAFFERY: That will be the real test. So far they have been really impressive. We will start practicing more next week working the on Monday thru Thursday and then on Friday is the first full workout. Now we can go 20 hours a week after next Friday. That will be the real test to see how much information that they can absorb. That can be the line of demarcation between whether a freshman plays or not is how much can he remember.
Q: Anyone surprise you so far this fall? You talked a lot about Gabe Olaseni in the spring taking that jump forward.
McCAFFERY: I think Gabe is probably that guy this year. He is so much more comfortable. Last year it was energy and enthusiasm. This year it is that with an understanding of what needs to be done and he's stronger.
Q: Is the biggest challenge for you along with keeping 11 or 12 guys happy, also finding out what combinations are going to work?
McCAFFERY: Yeah it is and quite frankly I am going to have to force myself to do that. I have not done that. I have kind of put my guys out there and stuck with my guys with any team I have had. Not just here. I have let them play through their mistakes. I don't want guys to think this year that I am yanking them. I am putting guys out there that are fresh and can help us. I think that important because a lot of times a guy comes out and he thinks he took me out for some reason. No, I put him in and he's fresh. I think we have to communicate that to the guys.
Q: There is an art to that too.
McCAFFERY: There is. I think the more pressing we do the easier it is. The less pressing we do, that makes it harder.
Q: Woodbury comes in as a Top 50 top recruit. How do you manage expectations with him in his freshman year?
McCAFFERY: He is a guy that everyone will appreciate how hard he works and how much he competes. What he will do is put some numbers up. Like any freshman, he will get into foul trouble once in a while and he might not get a bunch of points in other games. But, he can score, he can run, he can rebound, and he can really pass. He is a team player who wants to win and he is going to do what it takes to help his team win. We are going to throw him the ball.
Q: Do you have a lineup in mind yet?
McCAFFERY: I do, but it changes a lot. It depends on the day. Certain guys I think I know are going to play.
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