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December 18, 2012With finals completed for the Hawkeye Basketball team, it gives the Iowa players and coaches plenty of time to put in extra time on the basketball court. Fran McCaffery and his staff, along with his players have been doing just that. McCaffery talks about the practice schedules each day and he previews the upcoming match-up against South Carolina State.
Q: What do you want to see out of your team this week with your final two non-conference games and where do you want to be with this team after this week?
McCAFFERY: Well, obviously we want to be 11-2. What I want to see is improvement. What I want to see is defensive intensity and sustained effort. I want to see execution and I want to see us get better collectively and individually.
Q: Clemmons and Woodbury didn't have the kind of performances on Saturday that they would have hoped for. What type of response do you expect from them?
McCAFFERY: They are both very resilient individuals. They are both very competitive and have a lot of pride. What they have to realize is it is hard thing because what I would like to do is have a young guy play through his mistakes. But, in a game like that where it is close and I have other options, I have to go to my other options and find the mix that is playing well. They have been very mature in understanding that aspect and have really worked hard in practice the last few days. They are really great people in terms of character, so I have no doubt that they are going to bounce back.
Q: You have had nine different guys score in double figures this year, which seems pretty remarkable. Maybe it is a testimony to your depth. Are you curious to see who is going to step up every game?
McCAFFERY: You are right and it has been interesting because it has been different people. The beauty of that is that it makes us harder to prepare for and they can't lock in on one guy like they did with Gatens last year. That was what made what he did so amazing. There are more weapons and we have different ways we can go, be it with motion sets or whether it be defensively. That is what makes practices more interesting and it makes it interesting moving forward because we get to see what will ultimately develop.
Q: Going back to the two freshmen who struggled on Saturday, are you kind of glad that it happened early in the year and they can get a lesson out of it and that they mindset has to be more consistent?
McCAFFERY: It is, but I just think it is part of it. Obviously we don't want it to happen, but it is sort of inevitable when you have young guys. These are true freshmen and it is amazing sometimes what they have accomplished so far and they will continue to get better. They didn't play well against an experienced team. That is part of the growth process and it is a matter of how you handle it and how you approach it. How do you show up in practice? What is your attitude in practice? These are guys that have worked really hard and they have gotten after it. This is a great time of the year for a college basketball player. You don't have anything else to do but work on your game. Exams are over and that is what these guys are doing.
Q: With these next few weeks without school, what are you able to do and how important will it be in terms of the growth of this team?
McCAFFERY: It will be very important. We don't have to give them a day off. There is no restrictions on time, so if guys want to get in and get extra work in. We had a group in this morning and they are already done. They were flat out getting after it. Coach Francis was in early. Coach Speraw comes in early and works these guys out. Then they go and get breakfast and then we come back and watch film and shoot free throws. Then they go to lunch and come back and watch film and practice and then we watch more film and go to dinner. It is a long regimented day that keeps them focused. After we get done with practice they have the rest of the night to go to the movies or something like that. The key now is to understand nutrition and take care of your body and prepare. If your shot is a little bit off, we have the facility here to work on it. That's what Aaron White has done. He has gotten in here and gotten some extra shots in. His shot was a little bit off on Saturday. He has been playing extremely well. He is a very good three pointer shooter, though his numbers don't show that right now. He is taking care of that.
Q: Along those lines, what is your expectation for players being around the facility? Does it vary from player to player and do you have a set amount of hours you want them around?
McCAFFERY: We require them to be here two times. If they want to come in a third time on their own, that is on them. They can do it early or they can do it late. That is the beauty of the facility. This time of the year it was never a problem because nobody else was here. It is just us and the women's team and we just work everything out, so there is plenty of time. Now we have Carver and the practice facility so if a guy wants to get it in, he can get it in.
Q: You talked about the difficulty of managing an 11 man rotation. Looking ahead, you lose Eric May, but you add in Peter Jok, Kyle Meyer, and Jarrod Uthoff next year. Things are just going to get more competitive for playing time aren't they?
McCAFFERY: It will. Fortunately we have versatile players. You can see it now because in practice, other than Peter, the other two guys are here. So we can move guys around It also impacts a guy like Derek Stokes, who has worked himself into a position where he could be a factor, but you have some guys that are ahead of him right now. That's unfortunate, but he is part of what we are doing. We look so much different in terms of our size and length and our versatility, but it is going to get more competitive, there is no question about that.
Q: Most of your players probably saw the final score of your next opponent, who got beat by 51 at Missouri last night. What do you do to keep them focused on the task and hand and not look at that score and say they are terrible?
McCAFFERY: They aren't terrible. Missouri made them look terrible. If you watch this team play, they are talented. I have seen a number of their games and they played substantially better against Maryland. They played substantially better against Albany, a team that I am familiar with and they are 9-2. They played well against Norfolk State. If you look at their players individually, they a 6-11 center, they have quick guards that can score, and athletic wings. They ran into a buzz saw last night. Missouri was absolutely relentless with their defense and their fast break. They are just so athletically powerful. Obviously I focus on the teams that we are playing and see the teams they are playing, so I don't really study Duke, although I have saw the Duke/Ohio State game, but this Missouri team is athletic as any team out there. If there is team out there that is more athletic, quick, and powerful, I want to see them. With all due respect to Michigan and those teams ranked #1, #2, or #3. What we have to understand is that we have to play the same way. We have to get after it that way. What was interesting is they were up 35 and they were playing like they were down five. That is a mentality that we have to emulate. It is a great learning experience because what you are going to see is a team on Wednesday night and you are going to say, wow how did they lose by 50, well because Missouri won by 50. They are going to play a lot differently because they have talent. They have shot makers, they have post players, and they have some depth.
Q: Are you still confident that academically everyone is going to be fine?
McCAFFERY: I do.
Q: Is everyone healthy?
McCAFFERY: We have a couple of guys banged up, but everyone is going to play.