McCaffery on the loss to the Spiders
The one and done nature of the NCAA Tournament means that your stay can be a short one and it was for the Iowa basketball team. Following the loss to Richmond on Thursday afternoon, Fran McCaffery met with the media to discuss what went wrong for his team on in the loss to the Spiders.
Q. Fran, when that kid to your left has that emotion, it says it all that he wears the pride on his sleeve for Iowa. What are your thoughts on the legacy that he has left on the program?
FRAN McCAFFERY: It says a lot about him, the way he responded to the question. I don't care about numbers, but you think about the numbers, and they're absolutely staggering, 2,000 points. More threes made than anybody else that ever played in the Big Ten, more assists than anybody that ever played at Iowa. That's somebody that takes great pride in wearing that Jersey, which is what he said, but his leadership, his mental toughness, it epitomizes what a true competitor is, and he came here to make a difference.
And either you think back -- before his hip surgeries, he played a whole season in terrible pain, never asked to come out. Didn't even know half the things that were bothering him. He just showed up every day at practice and played in the games and gave me everything he had, and then double hip surgery is not easy, and we've had two guys that have had to go through it. Two guys were sitting on my left, and that really is difficult, and it takes tremendous sacrifice and determination.
Just watching him come back and perform at the level that he did and then come back to lead a team that needed his leadership, he and Connor both had to lead a young team. They had to help Keegan take his game to the next level and bring along Chris and Tony and Joe T., Patrick, and that's what character is, and that's what he has. That's what Connor has, and, you know, when you get into this business, you hope one day to be able to coach guys like that, and so I'm really proud.
Q. I hate to follow up such an emotional moment and how well you put that with a question just on this game and how you feel you just couldn't get out of your own way perhaps in the early going and for an offense that was -- for an offense that you possessed to be held like as you were by this opponent.
FRAN McCAFFERY: It's -- you know, we had a couple fall out early, and then we settled a little bit. We shot probably too many. 1 for 13 for three in the first half. I don't remember too many real bad ones, maybe one or two at the end of the shot clock.
The game was really physical. Normally we get to the free-throw line more often. You know, typically we expect to shoot more than two free-throws in the second half, especially the way we were driving the ball. Defensively, we were not where we needed to be. We were okay at times. We had a couple of stretches where we were getting consecutive stops. We didn't get them when we really needed them. Executed fairly well with our sets coming down the stretch, but then defensively, we had some other things we wanted to do, and we didn't get that done. So I think in a situation like this, you have to give respect to your opponent.
Q. This game is about wins and losses. Obviously, this one didn't go the way you wanted to go, but the response that you just got from Jordan and the emotion that you just got, how much does that pump you up or elevate you to get ready for next season? Does that make you even more ready for next season as you go on your journey -- coaching journey at Iowa?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I think that's an incredibly astute observation. Especially in a moment like this. We all want to celebrate. Everybody wants to win, and everybody puts the time in, and -- I shouldn't say. Not everybody puts the time in, but most of us I think try. This is an incredibly long journey, and that's why you see the emotion, emotion here and emotion in the locker room was similar. There's so much that goes into it, whether it be individual skill development sessions, 6:00 a.m. weight training sessions, practice in June and July, August right through September, October, and into a long season, grueling season in the Big Ten. And like you said, I've been doing this a while, 40 years. When you come to work, that's what you want to see.
If I have to somehow figure out a way to accomplish that for them, then I got the wrong guys, and the reality is we're not going to be successful, but if I have young people like Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, Keegan Murray, and I could keep going, that bring a positive attitude, a love for their teammates, and a competitive desire, well now that motivates the coaching staff that much more to help them maximize their potential and get the most out of this tremendous opportunity, and I couldn't be more proud of those guys.
Q. Fran, I don't want to take anything away from what Richmond did, but that was a pretty close call, I would say, late in the game. You guys were down three. Murray shoots one of the -- Murray shoots a three. Looks like he got fouled there. I don't know what you managed to see of that, if you have seen a replay of that, but any thoughts on that call?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I have not seen the replay. I remember Chris's reaction, which was I think pretty dramatic. It was upsetting for him. I feel bad for him. He is a pretty good shooter. He is typically not going to shoot and miss by that much many that situation, but, again, it's on the other side of the floor, so I think it would be inappropriate for me to say, oh, it was a terrible call. I'm 45 feet away from it, so I'll just defer to the official on that.
Q. Looking back on the game, would there be anything you would wish you could have done differently, and then just follow up, what will you remember about this season?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I'll remember how much fun it was to coach this group and how they stayed together and how they grinded to win the Big Ten Championship. I think I'll focus more on the positive than the negative, but like we say all the time, I mean, this is not a game of perfect, so you're not going to win every game. You're not going to play a perfect game and execute a perfect game plan every time, but our guys kept fighting today.
We were not playing as well as we normally would. We have shots that weren't going in. We had guys that have been playing extremely well that were just a little bit off, and they just stayed the course, so I'm really proud of that, and I think any coach that would be sitting here in this situation would tell you that that's all we can ever ask of our guys. Just keep battling. Just keep trying to make plays. Just keep hustling on defense and just keep pounding that glass, and play right through the last second and execute to perfection and try to manage the clock, which I thought we did a good job of.