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April 4, 2013

McCaffery on NIT loss

Despite a tough shooting night in the first half, Fran McCaffery felt fortunate to be close against Baylor. After pulling within one point 28-27, the roof sort of caved in on McCaffery and the Hawkeyes and they could never fully recover. McCaffery talks about the second half struggles, if Baylor's length gave his team problems, and he looks ahead to the off-season.

Watch our videos and read the transcript below.

McCaffery Baylor1 from HawkeyeReport on Vimeo.


Q. You get it to 28‑27 and then it kind of goes sideways. What happened?

COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, you know what, I really thought we came out in the second ‑ we go into halftime, we're only down five, didn't feel like we played well at all, were seemingly fortunate to be down five. If we could start with a run, we cut it to one, but seemed like we just kept missing easy shots. We'd get it to ‑ the stat that jumps out at me is we had 20 offensive rebounds against this team. That's effort. That's special. That should have equated to more success offensively. Instead we shot 27 percent in the second half and then didn't, I think, have the attention to detail at all. They're a terrific offensive team. They had us spread out. They were moving the ball, and they've got a lot of weapons, and Jackson is tremendous.

But I think what ended up happening is I think it affected our attention to detail defensively, our struggles offensively.

Q. Kind of going off that, do you feel that the shooting just would have made a difference if a few more of those shots had gone your way?

COACH McCAFFERY: I do, and I think we probably quick‑shotted a few times. I think 24 threes, although some of those were at the end. I think we shot a few too many threes. Normally we're a team that has more assists per basket, and we move the ball a little bit more side to side, in and out. We were content to try to get it back with a three, and you just can't do that against a team that's this good.

Q. Do you think part of the misses inside were you guys were worried about their length and looking for the shot blockers?

COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, I think we were looking around a little bit. Yeah, I think that's fair to say. That's tough because you have to decide, when I get it do I go right up, or do I shot fake and go up. If you don't see anybody, there's nobody to shot fake and go up through, and you're kind of trying to ‑ we short‑armed a couple. We had a couple one‑handed tips that didn't go in. I thought Melsahn's looks early on were really good. Zach doesn't make a basket. He made a couple really good moves, I thought, great offensive rebound, had a bare lay‑up. That was frustrating for him and for all of us.

Q. You played pretty good defense the last 15 minutes of the first half. Do you think the early misses in the second half or right after that 28‑27 juncture and they went on an 8‑0 run in about a minute, did that hurt you defensively?

COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, that's exactly what happened.

Q. What did you think of Baylor's defense tonight?

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I thought it was good in two areas. I thought they got up into us on the perimeter with their quickness and I think their length bothered us as we got to the rim. What it caused us to do was settle for a few too many jump shots. We're a driving team, we get to the free‑throw line more typically, and we just didn't do that tonight.

McCaffery Baylor2 from HawkeyeReport on Vimeo.


Q. Pregame they had to change the net down at your end. Did that disturb the routine for you guys?

COACH McCAFFERY: It was unfortunate. The net broke, and it took them a minute to fix it. We just went into stretching. I don't think that had anything to do with anything.

Q. Mike really looked good in the second half, started hitting some really good shots. The foot never seemed to bother him. Did it bother him?

COACH McCAFFERY: No. I thought, as I said ‑ I think the best thing when we brought him back was to keep him off the ball, run him off screens and let him shoot it in the hole for us. I thought the key for him was to just go play with a little reckless abandon, and that's what I challenged him to do on the bench. So when I put you back, you've got to go play with reckless abandon, because if you fiddle with the ball with these guys, they're too quick. If you try to run a set, wait for people to get lined up, they're up into your space, you've got to just go. When they come up on you, you've got to go. I don't care if I called a set or what we thought we were going to do, you have to go, because they're going to be off balance, and that's what he started doing and of course he hit some jumpers, too. But he seemingly was the only one who could get anything going offensively.

Q. Just immediate reaction to the season as a whole, where you've come this year?

COACH McCAFFERY: I think that's the hardest thing in the locker room because they're down, they're upset. They know they didn't play well, we didn't play well, and what I tried to do was take it off them a little bit and say, look, I didn't do a good enough job. We're all in this together. We didn't do a lot of things, and we can start pointing out the things that we didn't do collectively, but nothing will take away the fact that we won 25 games, and nothing will take away from the fact that we had one of the greatest senior leaders I've ever been around. Hopefully what we'll do is learn from this experience and be better for it.

Q. I realize that you're probably not focused on next season right now, but what does this team have to do to take another leap forward next season?

COACH McCAFFERY: You know, it's nothing complicated. What has to happen is we have to take a little break. It's been a long season, and that's good. It's been seven months. They've got to take a little break now. They've got to get away from it and be a student and enjoy that. Then they've got to go to work. Individually we'll have skill development sessions, but they've got to work out on their own, they've got to get with Bill Maxwell and we'll put workout programs together for individuals that we think will make a difference in their game, and then we've got to work out through the summer, and obviously we'll have that extra practice because we're going overseas, we'll incorporate Jared Uthoff and Peter Jok, and I think what we'll do is enter the season next year with a tremendous focus and concentration knowing what we're capable of but also knowing some of the things that we didn't do that we now have to go out and do.

Q. In what ways do you feel playing these last three weeks and getting to this point in the NIT is going to help the guys that you do have returning going forward?

COACH McCAFFERY: There's just no substitute for experience. You can't rush it, and to have played in front of two packed houses, go on the road, win a big‑time road game, come to Madison Square Garden, the greatest venue in sports and play twice against two really good teams, win one, lose one, learn from that, it can only make us better, especially our young guys.


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