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1/10/2011: Fran McCaffery teleconference transcript (premium)

Posted on 10. Jan, 2011 by in Iowa Basketball

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

Below is a written transcript of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery’s teleconference on Monday with the Big Ten media:

McCaffery’s opening statement:

“This was an interesting week for us. I thought in the Ohio State game, we played really well for about 35 minutes. It was a five-minute stretch that got us. We’ve got to take care of that. I thought on Sunday against Purdue on the road, by far our toughest road test of the season, we did not play well. I thought we got out-competed, and that’s disappointing. But we’ll go back to work today, and we’ll get everything figured out.”

On whether lack of competitiveness has been a surprise, and how it can fixed for the short term:

“Well, I think the players on this team, they have good character. They’re as disappointed as I am in our performance yesterday, and I’m convinced that they’ll reverse that side of it. It doesn’t always translate into victories. It may not. But for us to win in this league this year, as good as it is, we have to fight harder than we did yesterday. Again, that’s not just running back on defense and getting over toward the ball. It’s the concentration side in terms of execution. We didn’t get on the glass like we had been, and we didn’t execute like we have to, to beat a team of that caliber. Everyone will be tough to beat at their place, as well as they’re playing, but at the same time, I think we have to play better than we played.

“We’ve got young kids. We’ll break it down. They’ll learn from it. They’ll improve individually, and they’ve got to take care of some of these mistakes. I think it was great to see some other guys step up. [Devon] Archie and [Andrew] Brommer, I thought, were very good. That’s encouraging. But we have to get better guard play.”

On how paramount concentration at the defensive end is when preparing for Northwestern (next opponent):

“Yeah, if you don’t play with a great level of concentration, they’ll cough you up. I’ve been going against that stuff since 1979. I think Billy [Carmody] does it as well as anybody. I like his team. He has got good players, he has got players that understand it, they run, and they execute probably as well as anybody on our schedule. We have to be ready for that one.”

On the difficulty a program like Ohio State has with winning consistently while having one-and-done players:

“Well, it’s phenomenally difficult. I think there are a couple of factors that may be in their favor. No. 1, I think they have a really good coach, and they have stability within the administration and with the coaching staff. I think that helps. No. 2, there’s a solid recruiting base in [Ohio]. They’ve been able to lock up the state. You’ve got to give them credit for that. There are good players in the state that they are keeping home. They’ve got a tremendous fan base and a great place to play, and they have a great tradition. They have sold that effectively.

“But they’ve also been able to develop some young kids, and I think that’s probably the other side. When they get some young kids that are good, that are one-and-done guys, they’ve done a pretty good job of developing them to be better players by the time they are seniors. They consistently get better. I think they have also put together a team of guys that fit. They’ve put pieces together where you have a guy like [Evan] Turner, you put people around him. You have a guy like [Jared] Sullinger, you put people around him. I can speak to the team a couple of years ago because we played them [at Siena] and this year’s team, but these guys, they share the basketball. It’s a testament to Thad [Matta] and the kind of kids he is recruiting.

“It seems to me just watching them, they have character on that team, and he has been able to recruit kids with character who are unselfish, compete, and sort of have a confidence that enables them to win in a way that’s not cocky. It’s a confident way that they play. So I think there are a lot of things. That’s a question then when you try to answer it, there are a lot of areas that you have to sort of dive into. I tried to answer it the best I could.”

On what Iowa was unable to do against Ohio State last week that caused the game to get away from it:

“Well, to be honest with you, it is sort of a problem that we’ve had. If you look at our losses, and a lot of them have been close, there’s always a run. Sometimes, it’s a scoring drought by us. Sometimes, it’s an explosion by them. But the reality is, if you go through a scoring drought, you need stops. We have enabled different teams to sort of snowball us a little bit. That stretch they had which I think was a 16-0 run, we were really struggling. It was a combination of them scoring and our ineffectiveness over at the other end for that relatively short period of time, but it was 4-4.5 minutes.

“What we have to do is if we’re executing, which we were doing a fairly decent job of executing, we have to work to get the ball in. O.K., well, we’ve got to get back and get stops, so instead of that being a 16-0 run, maybe it’s a 12-4 run. O.K., well, that’s going to have a major impact at the end of the game, which ended up being a five-point loss. That’s the thing that we have to do a better job of, and we’re working on that.”

On whether watching Northwestern tape takes him back to his playing days at Penn preparing for Princeton:

“It does. It’s like preparing for no other team on your schedule. I have great respect for that offense, Pete Carril, Bill Carmody, Joey Scott, Chris Mooney, how those guys teach it. What they’ve all done is they’ve all taught it, but they’ve all put their own stamp on it to a degree. John Thompson is another guy that has brought in components of it. He doesn’t run all of it. But it’s one of those things where if you have one day of prep, you’re in big trouble. If you have more than one day, you have a chance. It’s still hard. You’re still going to give up some back-doors, you’re still going to give up some flare screens.

“It’s interesting to know and understand how they’ve put that together, but it all starts with recruiting. [Northwestern recruits] players for that system. All of their post guys can pass and catch, and most of them can shoot outside, so they spread the floor, they dribble at, and dribble hand off, they spin dribble back-door. There’s all kinds of things that really test not only your ability to play defense, but your ability to sustain defensive effort and concentration and focus through the entire shot clock. If they get the rebound, then they keep you on defense for another 35 seconds, which taxes your team more. So it’s a mindset as much as it is anything else when you’re trying to play a team like Northwestern, in addition to which I think Billy has done a great job of recruiting.

“I’ve watched his teams over the years, and he seems to be able to continue to get really talented players. You know, big guys that can dribble, pass, and shoot. He has got some serious quickness in the backcourt now. He has got a team that if they wanted to run and gun, they probably could, and they will. They’ll run some. This team runs as much as any of the Princeton-style teams I’ve watched over the years, especially with [Michael] Thompson. This is a really good team. I like this team a lot.”

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