March 11, 2013
McCaffery talks BTT
The regular season is over and now the task for Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes is to make their final case for an NCAA Tournament bid starting Thursday in Chicago. McCaffery spoke on the Big Ten teleconference this morning and made Iowa's case, plus he updates the health of point guard Mike Gesell, who is expected to return to practice on Tuesday.
It was a good week for us. We won two games against two very good teams. I feel really good about how we are playing and how our young guys are developing. We are getting good play from a lot of different people. I have been particularly impressed with Gabe Olaseni, who had his best week as a Hawkeye and I think will continue to get better. Anthony Clemmons, in particular, had a terrific week, especially since Mike Gesell has been out. Everyone stepped up to fill in for Mike and I feel really good about how we are playing.
Q: When do you think you might get Mike Gesell back in practice and when will you make a decision on whether he will be able to play or not?
McCAFFERY: Every day he does a little bit more. He has been shooting, so he is going to try and run a little bit today and might try to practice a little bit today and tomorrow. Maybe we will wait till tomorrow and obviously it won't be for too long. I think he will be able to play. The question is going to be how does he feel and how effective can he be. I think he will be pretty good.
Q: You recruited Kale Abrahamson out of high school. He is coming off a career high against Michigan State. What did you see in him that made you want to recruit him?
McCAFFERY: He can score. He can shoot the ball from three point range. He is a pretty athletic kid and he's long. I thought he fit with our style of play and I am not surprised he is playing well.
Q: Over the last two months you have only lost one game by more than double digits. Do you feel like your team is peaking at this time of the year or have they just been consistent in the last two months?
McCAFFERY: I think you make a great point. You start the season and you think you know what you have. You have some young guys, in particular with this team we really liked our collection of players. You try to bring them together and you keep working, keep trying to get better, and you keep challenging them. You know in the toughest league in the country you are going to be challenged regularly, not only by the players, but the coaches. You just want to be in the situation where night in and night out you are playing your best and continue to compete. If you get behind, you come back and you know teams are going to come back on you. You just have to keep fighting. We knew we had to improve defensively and on the glass and we did. We knew we needed more depth and we got that. I feel really good about our development and when you look at the grind of a very long season in a very difficult league, I think you make the point that exemplifies this team.
Q: With Mike Gesell coming back, do you see him more at the two at the start of the game and then filtering over to the one at different times or will he go right back to the one and move Devyn Marble over to the two?
McCAFFERY: That is a good question. I kind of like Dev with the ball and I kind of like Mike with the ball. They both can play off the ball. I haven't really decided that yet. It might be a function of match-up as much as anything else.
Q: When you saw you were going to play Northwestern, what we your reaction?
McCAFFERY: Obviously I have tremendous respect for Bill and the job he has done. As you know, they are a very difficult team to play against and prepare for. We have beaten them twice this year, but we had lost to them a bunch of times in a row. You watch them yesterday and you see how hard that offense is to guard and when certain players are making shots. You see the improvement of an Abrahamson and a Trey Demps. Those two guys have really impressed me. I think you see Olah improve. I think you see a team that has continued to battle despite an incredible rash of injuries that no coach would want to endure. We have tremendous respect for this team.
Q: Did you do anything differently this season to prepare for the Princeton offense?
McCAFFERY: No, I think what helped us is the more times you go against it, the better off you are. The first time we played it they absolutely cleaned our clocks. I think they made 14 three's in that game. We were scrambled. Last year when you have Shurna and Drew Crawford, which changes a lot of things in terms of how you defend. Those guys can make baskets and make plays, particularly in crunch time. This year's team is different in the sense that you are Swopshire in and Olah is coming in, so you have some new faces. You were expecting to have Crawford and Cobb. It is still the same offense. You have to understand the differences. It is one of those things where no matter what you take away, they are going to get you somewhere else. The counters and the continuation of what they do is so intricate and ultimately it requires a concentrated and sustained effort by five people working together. That is exactly what they are doing on the other side. It is five people working together with intelligent cuts and screening action, hand off's and you can't let up, especially the way they shoot the three.
Q: You have won 6 of 8 down the stretch and have 20 wins. Probably a little further down in the RPI than you would like. Other than the obvious of winning four games in four days, what do you think it will take to get into the NCAA Tournament?
McCAFFERY: I think it is important that we are in the discussion. I think we have certainly earned it based on the fact that we are 9-9 in the toughest conference in the country. I think the RPI is one component that you look at. I think you look at KenPom, you look at Sagarin, and you look at BPI. In all of those, we are substantially higher. I think you look at other factors. I think you make a great point that we have won six of eight and we are continuing to improve and get better. We feel really good about where we are. We knew we had a young team coming in and we just want to continue to get better. We have a great opportunity to go to Chicago and improve upon all of those numbers and that is what we are going to try and do.
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