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March 13, 2012In the win over Dayton tonight, Coach Fran McCaffery saw a lot of positives including the 13,000 Hawkeye fans that showed up to cheer Iowa on to an NIT victory. After the game, McCaffery talked about the crowd support, the performance by his team, and the practice schedule moving forward, plus Aaron White and Zach McCabe discussed their efforts in the game tonight and much more.
Watch our videos and read the complete transcript below.
COACH McCAFFERY: Just you know, so many things that were positives tonight. I thought our effort level, you look at 23 assists on 33 baskets, you know, we felt like we could do some things with our front court. We got 25, 20 and 15 all over the glass. I thought in the second half, we had to be the tougher team. The first half, they had ten offensive rebounds that led to 17 second chance points. So we had to rectify that in the second half, which we did.
And I just want to say how happy I am for these guys and how thankful I am for the Hawkeye fans to show up the way they did tonight, which was absolutely amazing. When you think about it, we didn't know we were going to have a game until Sunday night, and 13,000 people show up in less than 48 hours. That's pretty good. That says everything you need to know about Hawk fans.
Q. Talk about how you fed off the fans?
ZACH McCABE: Great crowd tonight, one of the best of the year, really loud, really into it from tip off, and that's just exciting for the players. You feed off that, and you get a dunk and they go nuts, and that feeds your energy, on the defensive and offensive end.
Q. Aaron, you scored on around three straight possessions, eight points and a couple plays, do you feel that's an important part of the game?
AARON WHITE: Yeah, just trying to take advantage of my height and my energy down low, trying to get offensive rebounds and I got open on a couple dunks. A lot of it is because teammates keep me open.
Q. You got a lot of playing time, and out of foul trouble, what turned you on?
ZACH McCABE: Just being aggressive, just playing smart. I know with the foul trouble I had all year, I just played smart, just tried not to foul which makes life easier.
Q. For Zach or Aaron, you and Melsahn had so much room in the middle, what was it about your guys energy that allowed you guys to...
ZACH McCABE: I just think that we are all physical. You know, I think they had a tough matchup in the post and Mel want on a run and Aaron went on a run, and we kept being aggressive inside and they couldn't stop us really.
Q. Can you share, what Coach said to you and what you said to him?
AARON WHITE: I just told him, I don't want this to be the last game played with him. I've said this multiple times, this is the best team I've ever had. This isn't the last game I'm going to play with him and I'm going to play with all of these guys.
Q. When you left the court, Matt had his arm around you, what were you saying after the game?
AARON WHITE: He was just really happy, you know, really proud to get this first postseason win in a while. He was just thanking me for how hard I played and he just said we were going to go get another one. We are going to see who our opponent is and prepare for them and make a run here. It's a lot of fun.
Q. Senior Day...
AARON WHITE: Both senior day and that Michigan State loss, a lot of us didn't know if that would be our last game with some of these guys, and we just took advantage of that tonight and we don't want the season to end and we want to keep on playing. We came out with that energy.
Q. Coming full circle, your effort the last two games, you were shaken up after the Michigan State game.
AARON WHITE: Yeah, pretty down after the Michigan State game, and for Matt and the other seniors, to get something like this, to go from that low to this high, it's great and I'm glad to see us going on.
ZACH McCABE: Maybe high school. But yeah, I wish I could make that free throw. But yeah, that was just playing smart and aggressive, and thankfully I made all my baskets.
Q. Playing at home as the higher seed team...
COACH McCAFFERY: It's not an easy place to play. I've been there. You know, there's 13,000 in there a lot. I just have been very impressed with this team, as I have studied them the last two days, you know, they are probably a one point loss to Xavier, and those two teams are probably flipped. They win that semifinal game, Dayton is in, Xavier is out probably.
You look at the BCS teams that they beat, it says a lot about their coaching staff and Arch in particular. I love their team. They are a different kind of team than we are. You know, they are essentially playing four guards and a big. Now, it happens that the two wings are phenomenal offensive rebounders, but we were able to take advantage of some of our size in that situation.
Q. So there's no letup.
COACH McCAFFERY: There's no letup. I thought right when I came out on to the floor, which is about three minutes before tip, that you could feel you're like sitting in the building and the energy level, and I could see despite the fact that it was an up and down game, and it was a physical game, our guys just were not getting tired. And that's really a direct result of the crowd energy.
Q. The quick turnaround in 48 hours, does that help the guys and not overthink?
COACH McCAFFERY: You know, we don't do that. We don't overthink it. We respect our next opponent and felt like we were playing pretty well. We lost to Michigan State; they are a No. 1 seed for a reason. Physically, we didn't match up quite with them in the post. But we learned from that experience and got better.
We were so thankful that we saw our name come up to keep playing, and the fact that it was here, we are so ecstatic about that. We just went to work, and that's what this team has done all year long. They don't just dwell on anything negative.
We had some tough losses this year. We had some games where we were really bad on defense and couldn't make a shot and we just kept working. We are scoring the ball now. We had individual players develop significantly. We are playing with confidence right now and they are having fun.
Q. What does it say along the lines of the quick turnaround that you get the production that you get out of guys like McCabe and White, all of whom are so on their way up in terms of development?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, those three guys are really good players. They are smart, they are tough and they are just getting great experience right now. It's just going to help us as we move forward.
Q. Aaron was feeding off the energy as much as anybody - talk about the baskets made in transition and his overall game.
COACH McCAFFERY: He's really special. We knew we had something in Aaron White when we signed him and you've all seen him. Very few freshmen at this level accomplish what he's accomplished. You just don't consistently put up those kinds of numbers. And he was affecting the game in so many different ways; the offensive rebound on the missed free throw. Those are the kind of plays that are just winning plays. That's what he does.
Q. Zach was nine for nine, just seemed to really take it at them in the first half, is that part of the strategy, to go after the post?
COACH McCAFFERY: We felt like we could go inside. We felt like that was an area we could go after. We have respect for Kavanaugh, but Zach got the better of him tonight but that kid is a really good player.
Once Zach got going, I think once that three went early, actually he made another basket and they called him for a travel. It could have been 10-for-10. He was really cooking there. Once he was going like that, we kept going to him.
Q. Did you feel like it was almost, first team had a little left and was going to fall back, and it was such a phrenetic pace.
COACH McCAFFERY: We gave them a number of opportunities in the first half to run away, and they kept coming. That's what they have done all year long. And we went to the zone and they had a couple misses in a row, we got some baskets.
Once it got to 10, you felt like, okay, we have control of the game now. Now, you're still worried about Dillard and the offensive rebounding, but we made the plays that we had to make late.
Q. What schedule do you put together now?
COACH McCAFFERY: Tomorrow afternoon we'll get them up and have breakfast and we'll have the film broken down. We'll watch that. We'll know tonight who we are playing and start get to go work on those guys. Then we'll go from there.
Q. Gatens going two for nine but winning by almost double digits, would it have surprised you?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, we've done that before, because the thing about Matt, he's going to play great defense, he's not going to turn the ball over and he's going to have assists, and he made probably the valuable three of the night. So there's a guy at the time who was one for nine, and we still went to him; so that tells you about him.