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December 31, 2013

McCaffery discusses win

While it was not always pretty in a game that included 17 missed free throws by the Hawkeyes, head coach Fran McCaffery was still very happy to get a win in Iowa's Big Ten opener against Nebraska on Tuesday. After the game, McCaffery talked about his team's performance, if they were sluggish after the holiday break, starting the season 9-0 at home, and much more.

Q. Fran, do you think the long layoff may have contributed to some of the sluggishness on the offense?

COACH McCAFFERY: No, I mean, I guess it's possible. I didn't think so. I thought when they came out and they were holding it on offense and turning it over and turning it over, you know, continuity, keeping us on defense, that takes a great deal of effort. We held them to 26 in the first half, did an unbelievable job. But what that does is it drains your energy a little bit when you're trying to rally. But the other thing that was disappointing was they got 10 offensive rebounds in the first half.

So we got some stops, got some rebounds and put them back in, that's why the score was as close as it was, I thought. But we were able to rotate guys and did a lot of good stuff there.

Q. You're 9-0 at home now. Obviously you talked about defending the home court. How you've done it once in the Big Ten, just talk about the importance of that?

COACH McCAFFERY: You watched the Big Ten today. It's just brutal. I mean, we know that. It's so hard to go on the road and win. If you have an atmosphere like we had tonight, the Hawks fans were spectacular, and we appreciate it. Obviously, we didn't play a perfect game, but played well enough to win. You just put it behind you. Okay, we've got 17 more.

Q. You're a Big Ten leader in rebounding. Coming in they outrebounded you in the first half. Was that more about effort or positioning?

COACH McCAFFERY: No, it was more they had us spread out and they had a small quick lineup in the corner and they're driving. Now you have to come over and help. Now what we didn't do is block out on the weak side. But the problem there is oftentimes your five man is coming over, so now your point guard is trying to block out their center. Pitchford is the guy who had 8. A lot of it was off drives. We come to block, they draw us, and he just slides in there and gets it, and you've got to give them credit.

We've got to do a better job of getting inside them. Even if it's a small and a big, you've got to get inside. We didn't to that, and you have to give him credit, he was really good.

Q. What did they do in the last eight minutes to cut that lead?

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, it all started when we go up 20. We don't get the rebound, and they hit the three. Then we turn it over and foul. So in 38 seconds we gave five points of our lead back. Now we're getting fouled, we're making one, and Petteway in that situation is really good. Petteway and Biggs are both really good in that situation. Especially when Petteway is knocking in threes, because he's a handful off the dribble because he's a spin guy and he's a finger roll guy, and he gets fouled. He's crafty.

But if you give him a little space expecting him to drive, he can shoot it in your face and make a three, which is what he did.

I'd like to have done a little better job on Biggs because you kind of know what he's going to do. Petteway's sort of multi dimensional. Biggs, you know, he's like a fastball pitcher. He's coming right at you. He's coming at you, and he's not shooting the jumper. He's not playing side to side.

So in that case, those guys are really hard to guard, especially when they're powerful and quick like he is. So you've got to get help. So I thought fatigue might have been a little bit of a factor there. There is also the factor that you don't want to foul. You've got to leave. We only give them and one. We don't want to stop the clock with a foul. But you've got to get over so when he's looking to drive he sees people, and he saw space. That's something we've got to address.

Q. Most of the night the one continuity you had was defense. You held them for 29%.

COACH McCAFFERY: That's why we won. We didn't win because of our rebounding. We didn't win because of our three point shooting. We won because of our defense.

Q. I know free throws have been a constant for you especially after the Iowa State game. But what is the level of frustration?

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, it's frustrating because we wanted to drive this team. We want them to drive and transition. We want them to throw the ball inside because we have the height advantage. So we get to the free throw line 39 times. So they did everything we asked them to do. From following the game plan perspective, they were phenomenal. We make free throws and it's an easier victory, obviously.

We were in the double bonus I think it might have been by the 10 minute mark. So obviously you're going to win the game because you're going to make at least one, regardless of how well Petteway's playing. We felt we just needed one or two stops which we got.

So it's disappointing that we missed, what, 17? But at the same time it's encouraging that we got there 39 times.

Q. You haven't won your Big Ten opener yet. This is the first time. Based on last year's meat grinder you opened with Indiana and Michigan State thrown in there, do you feel pretty good about just getting it?

COACH McCAFFERY: I think you feel good about any Big Ten win. When you look at this league, there is no relief anywhere, there is just none. Whether you're at home, no matter who you're playing, I mean, tell me there is a better player than Petteway in our league in the country. I mean, that guy's a handful. He's terrific.

Gallegos goes over. He made seven threes last year, so they did a good job on him. You're looking at Shields, Gallegos, Petteway when you're playing this team. Pitchford would be the next guy. Pitchford has a big game, Petteway has a big game, Biggs is an X factor guy, wasn't playing. Suspended for the last game, didn't play against Cincinnati.

But this is a dangerous team. They have quickness. They compete. Tim does a great job with them. He's got them organized. They share the ball. We turned them over 13 times, but it wasn't a ton. We were getting after them pretty good, and luckily we were able to contest.

Q. How was Marble's back? Was it spasms or tightness?

COACH McCAFFERY: I don't know. You'll have to ask him. He looked pretty good to me.


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