January 21, 2013
McCaffery talks OSU
There are no easy road trips for Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes and that is certainly the case on Tuesday night when they travel to Columbus to face Ohio State. McCaffery spoke on the Big Ten teleconference this morning to discuss the DeShaun Thomas and the Buckeyes, plus he explains the NCAA ruling to not allow the Iowa players to have the Street name on their back of their jersey's Saturday night.
We only played one game this week. I thought defensively it was a continuation of the previous week when we played so well against Northwestern. Obviously that has been a focal point for our team and that will continue.
Q: What is it like to coach in a league like this where a team like Wisconsin comes into your place after a huge win at Indiana and you can get your kids ready to play like they did?
McCAFFERY: I think it's more simple than people think. Our league is unique in that there is incredible passion on every campus. When you go on the road, you are going to play in front of a packed house, no matter who you are playing against. It's also the best league in the country in terms of talented teams from top to bottom. There is never a game where you can say, we can give less than our best tonight and look to the next one. As coaches we never want that to happen, but the truth is that sometimes happens. In this league you can't do that and I think everyone knows that. In many respects that is the beauty of this league and following it because as good as the teams are at the top, the teams from the midpoint down tremendous and as a result, you never know on any given day. That is why I think it will be interesting to follow this league during the course of the season and see where everybody ends up.
Q: Aaron White will return to his home state for the first time as a college player. As you think about him, is he becoming the player you thought when you got him out of Ohio?
McCAFFERY: We certainly saw his potential and thought he could make this kind of impact. The interesting thing about him is I think there's a lot more there. I think that is the challenge for him. As talented as he is, and he impacts the game in so many ways, as he continues to get stronger what you are going to see is him expand his game offensively. He will be able to go off the dribble and finish plays around the basket. Not that he doesn't do that now, but he will do it even better. His stamina will improve so he can impact the game defensively with this length. He's doing that now in the passing lanes and has great anticipation skills. As he can stay in his stance and really get after people with a 6-foot-9 frame and great length and athletic power, I think he has a chance. As terrific as he is now, I think he has a chance to be really special.
Q: Looking at the Wisconsin game, Anthony Clemmons really played solid for you. Would this be another test for him against Aaron Craft and how he does against him?
McCAFFERY: I am, but I am also interested to see how we do on the road. We had a great road win at Northwestern. Prior to that we hadn't really played that well on the road. We are playing a terrific team in a great environment against one of the best defensive guards in the country. Maybe two of the best if you want to include Scott. It will be a great challenge for both Anthony and Mike and I am looking forward to see how it works out.
Q: What do you think are some of the challenges in guarding someone like Deshaun Thomas, a guy who can go inside and outside? How to you try to defend him?
McCAFFERY: You have to stay engaged because he has an unbelievable release. He is quick around the basket. He has that incredible scorers mentality and he has the ultimate green light. Those guys are hard to guard. He's the kind of guy that before you know it, he has 20 shots up and has 25 or 30 points. You have to stay engaged. You have to put someone on him physically who can match-up. As you said, with his size, he can go out or he can go in, depending on who is on him. It has to be a unique talent like he is in terms of being physical enough, but also quick enough and strong enough. They do a really good job of getting him the ball. They run good stuff and they have people that get the ball to him. I think in some respects, it's who you chose to put on him and you leave that guy on him the whole time. But, I think you have to be collectively engaged to stop someone with that type of explosive scoring ability.
Q: What was the NCAA's explanation to you about not allowing the players to wear Street on the back of their jersey's on Saturday night?
McCAFFERY: If you read the rule itself, it is pretty self explanatory. What would have to be done in that case is for an exemption to be granted. I think the issue was that there had been so many exemption requests that they decided that the rule stands as it is. They just aren't granting them for any cause. They just didn't want to do that.
Q: You mentioned about the defensive improvement by your team. Could you talk about that. Also, was that what you had in mind when you made the lineup change this season?
McCAFFERY: That was certainly part of it. No question about that. I think for us if you look at last year's season, while there were some tremendous high points, our struggles were on the defensive end in our losses. For us to take the additional steps to get to the top of this league we were going to have to guard people because the teams at the top have the ability to stop you from what you want to do. That has been the focal point since last season ended. The difference with this team is I think we have a better understanding of it and I think we are a little bit older, even with three freshmen in the starting lineup. We are deeper and we are bigger, so we can keep fresher bodies on the floor. In year one and year two, I had to keep my legitimate scorers on the floor longer than I wanted to because it was the only way we could score. I think you are seeing a team that is able to get stops in key situations. They are still not where we want to be, but we are much further along.
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