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March 1, 2013For the second time under Coach Fran McCaffery, the Iowa Hawkeyes will have an opportunity to play the top ranked team in the country when they travel to Indiana. McCaffery spoke on Friday morning via teleconference about the opportunity on Saturday night for his Iowa team and he updates the health of Mike Gesell and when he might return to action.
Q: What changes have you noticed in Victor Olidipo's game have you noticed since the last time you played Indiana that have allowed him to become a national player of the year candidate?
McCAFFERY: I don't think he has done much since the last time we played them. He has been this way all year. I thought he was terrific last year, but at the start of this year I noticed a difference. I thought he had taken his game to the next level and he was committed to do that. I think you could see it coming. When you watch him as a freshman and a sophomore, you could see it coming. His game has become more complete. His handles are strong. His jumper has improved. He is tremendous defensively. He plays on the glass. He really affects the game in all aspects. He has length, tremendous speed, and athletic power. When you put all that together with a tremendous work ethic, you have a lottery pick.
Q: You said you are comfortable with Devyn Marble at the point, but how much of a relief is it to you to have Anthony Clemmons and to have another point guard on your roster?
McCAFFERY: It is so important because it gives us flexibility. You saw that early on when we were starting all three of them. Then when we weren't starting all three of them, one of them gets hurt. You have to be able to get into your offense and get the ball up the court against pressure. To this point, Anthony has gotten a lot of experience and I am very comfortable bringing him off the bench and run or offense and to move Devyn around. It gives me some flexibility. There's going to be a lot of pressure on him in the next couple of games.
Q: You talked a little bit about the other night about Devyn needing to be a scorer and a distributor. Talk about that fine line and what he does well in that situation.
McCAFFERY: The thing about him is a lot of scorers that want to play point; they want to have the ball because they want to shoot it whenever they want. In his case, that is not who he is. When he is playing the point guard, he is trying to run our offense and he will recognize when we need him to get a shot off for us and score for us. He is not a guy that constantly hunts his own baskets. I have said this repeatedly, there are times when I have to tell him to shoot more. He is a very unselfish player. He can run the break, feed the post, make the play off the dribble, and get his own shot. He is playing very well right now.
Q: In games where Cody Zeller has struggled and Indiana has lost, they seem to make an emphasis on getting him the ball in the next game and he has responded. Have you seen that on film and how do you plan to combat that?
McCAFFERY: I don't look at it like he is going to play extra hard because they lost their last game or that they are going to go to him more because they lost their last game. They go to him and they are going to continue to go to him. He is a handful, so when you prepare for Indiana, you have to prepare for him. They also have a number of other players and that's why they are first, second, or third all year long. We have some guys with more size than last year, so that's a good thing. Hopefully we can stay out of foul trouble because you are going to have to guard him both in the post, in transition, and on the perimeter. Very few teams that have really good seven footers put them in driving positions and that's where they put him many times. He's a driver, a post up player, and a runner in transition. Those guys are tough to guard.
Q: Can you talk about the opportunity to beat a #1 ranked team.
McCAFFERY: It is a tremendous opportunity and fortunately in our conference, we get tremendous opportunities all the time to play a #1 type team. In some cases it's top five, top ten, and certainly top 25 teams. It's a great challenge for our program as we continue to grow and go on the road in that environment and play a team that is that hungry and is so strong at every position. You can usually in preparation and putting a game plan together look for a chink in the armor. They have addressed all of that. They have shooters, drivers, and tremendous depth and talent at point guard. They have size, length, low post scorers, and depth that has developed. They are going to challenge our team in every possible way. In regard to the question, I thought we had concluded that I hadn't coached against a #1 team before. When I was at Notre Dame as an assistant, maybe Missouri was. I think that is something we need to look up.
Q: When you found out Mike Gesell was out, what was your thought process in starting Josh Oglesby as opposed to starting Anthony Clemmons?
McCAFFERY: I thought that Josh was playing well. I felt like I wanted to go with Devyn as our starter at that position. I felt that bringing Clemmons off the bench would be best for our team and for him because he is going to play a lot. If you start both point guards, then you don't have another one to bring in. I felt like it would be good for Josh, good for Devyn, and good for Clemmons.
Q: When you get ready to face someone like Zeller, you have Adam now, but also you have Gabe Olaseni as a second option. Talk about that flexibility.
McCAFFERY: Gabe is a guy who is a runner as well. If you are going to guard Zeller, you have to run. Fortunately both Adam and Gabe run and they are both long and they can move their feet. Zeller is not only talented, but he is a crafty guy, so you have to really think when you are guarding him and move your feet or those fouls will pile up in a hurry if you are not thinking and understanding angles and getting back and recovering on ball screens. You have to constantly be working Fortunately Basabe and McCabe have also guarded him, so they are other guys that we can put there. They have to approach it differently because of the size factor, but fortunately we have some guys with size that we can put out there that can play.
Q: Talk about the significance of Sheehy and Watford in Indiana's success this year.
McCAFFERY: Sheehy comes off the bench and there are times when he is their leading scorer. He doesn't play like an off the bench guy. I think it is harder to do what he does than it appears. He comes right in and affects the game. Most players have to kind of get going, so that's a particular skill that he has. Watford came back to make a statement and I think he has had a tremendous season. His three point shooting numbers are incredible for a guy that big. He is also posting up more and you are seeing a more complete player than we have seen in the past. He is more committed to being physically different than in the past. He is banging in the post offensively and defensively and mixing with his outside game.
Q: With all of their offensive firepower, they have hit seven three's in ten straight games. On defense they have held opponents to 43% field goal percentage and lead the league. Is their defense almost overlooked?
McCAFFERY: To me, I don't overlook it. I know what it's like to go against them. They get up in you. They mix it up on defense. They can press you and pressure the basketball. They have shot blockers. They have one on one defenders. They have an elite defender in Oladipo. They have length, speed, and quickness. They also have experience. A lot of the time when you look at defense it's about athletic ability and toughness, but more times than not, that is about experience. Those guys know where to go and where to be. I think you are seeing that in the numbers that you pointed out.
Q: Is it accurate to say that you don't expect Mike Gesell to be back before the Big Ten Tournament. That would be the earliest he would return?
McCAFFERY: He will not play any time sooner than that. We are hoping he plays then. That is the plan. My understanding is they are going to do another MRI and we will see where it is. I think there is a possibility, although it is a small possibility, that they will shut him down then.
Q: Is everyone else healthy on the team?
McCAFFERY: Yep. Everyone else is good.
Q: You said Mike will have an MRI. Do you want to specify what it is for?
McCAFFERY: That's what it's for. You treat it and treat it and then you go back and look at it again to see if it has improved. Obviously he is in a boot and he's getting treatment two or three times a day and it will get better. But, on the off chance that it doesn't get better we have to take another look to make sure it has improved the way we want it to.
Q: Foot not ankle, correct?
McCAFFERY: Correct. Ankle is fine.