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January 28, 2014

McCaffery wants more toughness

After seeing Michigan State come back and makes the plays down the stretch to beat Iowa in overtime tonight, Fran McCaffery said his team needs more toughness. That is on offense, defense, and everywhere. See what McCaffery had to say about the loss, where the Hawkeyes can improve, and much more right here.

Watch our videos and read the complete transcript below:



Q. When or did you feel this game got away from you?

COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, that was part of it. I just didn't think we were tough enough. We weren't tough at all. That's part of it, you know. I think they were being nice.

Q. How do you explain the toughness?

COACH McCAFFERY: I can't.

Q. How do you measure it?

COACH McCAFFERY: We've got to challenge guys to be better than they are.

Q. On offense, defense, anything in particular?

COACH McCAFFERY: Offense, defense, whatever.

Q. Can you talk about the first in regulation and overtime?

COACH McCAFFERY: Wanted to put the ball in Marble's hands there. He's the guy. Had a really good look, with Basabe with the tip. The only thing Mike could have done is gone a little more to the basket, and he kind of floated away from the defender and tried to get it in. I won't fault him there in a situation where you're down six and you're laying the ball up in the buzzer to put it to the second overtime. I thought we had a good play there.

Q. Tom was talking about how much respect he has for your team and where you're at right now. Adversely, how much respect do you have for what they're doing and their guys?

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you know, as I said over and over, they've set the standard for the league. So I have tremendous respect for him. I've known him a long time. It's very hard to do what they've done. To consistently be contending not only for a league championship but a national championship. That is really hard to do, and he's done it with good kids doing it the right way. So I think that's another reason why I have so much respect for him. He does it the right way.

Q. (No Microphone). They were down two guys coming into a tough building?

COACH McCAFFERY: They've been down guys all year long. This isn't new. It took everything they had to beat Oakland because they're missing four guys. They had sickness, injuries. As I said the other day, when it's all said and done, it's really going to help them because you're seeing a team whose bench you're seeing Costello come into his own and Kaminski, and Travis Trice, Valentine is really stepping up. He's getting his freshmen some minutes.

You know, Gauna didn't do as much tonight but he's been really good. So you talk about our depth, they're as good as we are. They had ten guys ready to go tonight. All of them are really good players, and they played a lot.

Q. Could you talk about (No Microphone)?

COACH McCAFFERY: I don't think it manifested itself over 20 games, no. I thought tonight we were not as tough as we needed to be to beat this team.



Q. Just one field goal in the final 15 minutes, what do you attribute that to?

COACH McCAFFERY: We were driving the ball; we were throwing it inside and trying to get to the free throw line. We missed 13 free throws, that's unfortunate. We make our free throws and we have a chance to win. But they missed free throws too. I felt we were moving the ball well, we had some really good looks at it, and just didn't make any.

Q. Sometimes teams get overhyped; do you think that's maybe part of what happened to your team tonight?

COACH McCAFFERY: No, I don't think so. I don't think that has anything to do with it, no. I just think we lost to a really good team.

Q. (No Microphone)?

COACH McCAFFERY: Toughness is both physical and mental. You can't let Appling make a three with one second to go on the shot clock. He can't get that shot off. He can't. You've got to know that. You can't give up a rebound off a missed free throw from a 57% foul shooter. You can't do that. That's how games get away from you. 2 for 10 on 50 50 balls. Can't beat Michigan State doing that, because every time we didn't get a 50 50 ball, they scored. It wasn't like they just got the ball back. They scored. Can't win.

Q. For those of us that have been covering Michigan State for a long time it's very impressive what happened here atmosphere wise since you arrived. Obviously, a tough loss tonight, but can you talk about how you're rebuilding the program?

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I just can't say enough about our fans. I can't say I'm surprised because I've witnessed it from afar. Whether coaching a team here or watching it on television over the years and knowing the great teams and the great players. I mean, this atmosphere tonight, the way they backed our team was something that really makes me proud. Proud to be their coach.

But happy for our players who have really sacrificed. Came here when it wasn't as fashionable, and believed in what we were selling and have created an atmosphere where folks want to come and watch and root and be as noisy as they were tonight and try to be as intimidating to the opposition as possible.

I can't thank them enough. I know from the bottom of my heart, I'm thankful and so are the players.

Q. What is the message between now and Saturday's game? When you get together, how do you get this going in the right direction?

COACH McCAFFERY: We'll show specifically what we're talking about. We'll break the film down, make some teaching points. It's not all gloom and doom. There is a lot of good stuff that happened tonight, lot of good stuff. We'll point that out. We'll be somewhat positive at times. We'll try to be more consistent with some things, obviously, in the next game. It's not overly complicated.

Q. (No Microphone)?

COACH McCAFFERY: No, what we said was, obviously, once he missed the second free throw, we'll take it to double overtime and we'll shoot the three if it's there. I think once he had a head of steam, he was going. I think it would have been a hard pull up three with 4.4, you essentially have four dribbles and a shot.

The problem then becomes the best three to make there is probably off the pass. If he dribbles twice and passes, does the horn go off? You know, you don't want that to happen. You want to get a shot. I was okay either way. I think a pull up three in that situation is a tough shot to make.

Q. Is it mainly because of who you're facing? You've had to go against them in the past, lost some really tough games and you know what you're going to get from them?

COACH McCAFFERY: I don't look at it like that, no. I look at it like let's understand who is coming in here. They're 18-2. They were preseason 1. They're 3, 5, 6, wherever they're at. As I said yesterday or the day before, you've got to go through them if you want to win a championship. Doesn't matter what happened when we played them last year or two years ago. It's different teams. This is who we're playing tonight and this is what they bring to the table, and we have to be better. If we want to beat that team, we have to be better than we were.

Now, I'm not blaming the players, and I told them we're all in this together. We apparently didn't do a good enough job getting you ready. The game plan wasn't good enough. Our effort wasn't good enough; we weren't tough enough, okay? Let's go back to work or let's do better and try to win the next one. We get to play these guys later, but that's down the road. We've got other people between now and then.


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