February 4, 2013
McCaffery talks close losses
The close losses are adding up for the Hawkeye Basketball team. Three games in conference play where Iowa was either tied or held a lead in the final minute have turned into losses. Fran McCaffery talked about those close losses and what has gone wrong on the Big Ten teleconference Monday morning. McCaffery also discusses whether Devyn Marble needs to come off the bench.
We had an interesting week. We had a real good win at home against Penn State and a tough loss on the road to Minnesota. We feel that defensively, we are playing about as well as we can play. I think that is encouraging. We are also getting a lot of productivity from a lot of different people. Offensively, we are not where we need to be to beat teams the caliber of the teams that we have been playing. Hopefully we will continue to improve in that area.
Q: Have you thought at all about taking Devyn Marble out of the starting lineup and bringing him off the bench? Maybe that would help him a little bit. I'm sure you have thought about a million things to get him going.
McCAFFERY: I wasn't as concerned about him until yesterday. I felt like he was playing well. He was not himself yesterday and that needs to be addressed. I don't think taking him out of the starting lineup is the answer. He is one of our guys. He is one of our key guys. He is our leading scorer. He's is versatile, can play a number of different positions, and he's an experienced guy. I think he just needs to play through it.
Q: Aaron White has played very well in his career against Wisconsin. Why do you think that is? Does that style of game fit his style?
McCAFFERY: It's funny, I don't know. It could be a match-up thing. It could be a style of play thing. It could be coincidence. To me I look at him and say, boy he plays well against pretty much everybody. It might be different from one team to the other, but I see a guy that is pretty consistent in terms of his performance.
Q: You have eight players averaging better than 13-15 minutes per game in conference play. Talk about the advantage of being able to play so many different players.
McCAFFERY: It has been interesting because clearly it helps us defensively because we have fresh bodies out there. When you look at yesterday's game as an example, we start out down 14-2 and our backup's come back and cut the lead. It's been like that all year long and game to game it's been different guys. Now you look at that and you could say, boy that could be problematic for you, but to be able to go to the bench and have Oglesby, Eric May, and Zach McCabe in particular, along with Anthony Clemmons, those guys were spectacular. I thought Olaseni was very good in the first half. Woodbury didn't play well in the first half, but played great in the second half. That gives me more flexibility because I can go back to the guys that were starting and get more productivity out of them. It is a great weapon to have, being deep, but at the same time I would like to some more of our guys be more consistent.
Q: You have lost three games in the last minute where the game as either been tied or you have been ahead. Do you see anything that is a common factor in those games other than missed free throws?
McCAFFERY: It has been missed free throws and poor execution in all of those games. What is odd about that is our execution prior to that has been pretty good. Well you could say we have juggled our point guard. We have had Mike (Gesell) at point guard, then it was Clemmons, and now it is Mike, and at times it was Marble. It is great to have three guys who can play point guard, but you are bouncing around and those guys have been pretty darn good, but not as sharp as we need to be. The free throw situation is frustrating because to play as well as we have played and to be in that position, you want to be able to close the game out and make your free throws. We haven't done that and when you are doing both of those things it makes it hard. At the same time Hollins made a great shot and he's playing extremely well. Mike was a little late, but he contested that shot. When you are down two with 12 seconds to go and he's hitting a contested three, it's a pretty good play. That's what this league is, guys on other teams are doing things as well.
Q: When you lose a number of close games like that, how tough is it to keep their confidence up and the message is probably similar to them from game to game.
McCAFFERY: The thing with yesterday's game was Aaron White makes a steal that should have won the game for us because we were up four. He throws it ahead to Mike and he doesn't make the layup, he misses the tip, and then Clemmons gets the rebound and misses a layup. They get it and throw it down and get a dunk. Suddenly instead of six it's a two point lead and there's less than two minutes to go. Those kinds of things are happening to us as well. We just have to get one of them and then the rest of the pieces will fall into place because clearly we are playing well enough to win.
Q: You have coached in other parts of the country. The Big Ten hasn't won a National Title since 2000. Is that just coincidence, one of those things, or do you guys just beat each other up in the league? Any theories on it?
McCAFFERY: My theory would be that by virtue of what we go through in a season, I would think that would help us. In theory that should be beneficial because we are so road tested. I think in a neutral environment, it really shouldn't be an issue. We are playing against tough, physical, quality defenses. A lot of times if you are playing in a conference that is sort of up and down and you run into a team that really guards you in half court, then you struggle. Our teams that get into the tournament typically have stars. You need stars when you get into the NCAA Tournament. We have made a couple of good runs and I think if we hadn't had anyone in the Final Four or the championship game, I think I would look at it differently. I think it's more of a coincidence would be the best way to answer it.
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