By Brendan Stiles
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Fran and Margaret McCaffery are always looking for ways to be involved in the community and take part in the fight against cancer. With the help of Iowa City developers Marc Moen and Bobby Jett, the McCafferys were able to hold a fundraiser that allowed them to do both.
The “Hawkeye Basketball Tip-Off Party” took place Wednesday evening inside the penthouse suite of Hotel Vetro. The first such event of its kind, it was established to benefit both Coaches vs. Cancer and the American Cancer Society. McCaffery added that all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society would specifically go to benefit the Hope Lodge in Iowa City, as well as research for the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is located on the UI campus.
“This is an event that could grow,” McCaffery said. “It’s a function that I think is really going to bring the community together in a way that we’re able to raise money for a great cause, but also have a lot of fun.”
Former Hawkeye players such as Luke Recker and Ryan Luehrsmann were among the handful to attend the Tip-Off Party and take part. McCaffery said it was critical to have former players like them be willing to take part in such functions.
“When you talk about building a program and you look at the unbelievable tradition of the University of Iowa basketball, I mean, that’s really what it’s about,” McCaffery said. “We’re a family. Families participate in things. They get involved. They get involved in the community. They get involved whenever the coaching staff’s involved with something and they do what they can to be around.
“Nobody asked for anything. They wanted to participate. They wanted to be involved and I’m very thankful for that.”
McCaffery did provide a quick update on practices, which got underway for his team on Oct. 12. He said the only player currently not practicing is junior guard Devyn Marble, who has been sick with pneumonia since Monday.
“The amazing thing about him is he had an unbelievable workout on Sunday, then came in on Monday and said, ‘I just don’t feel good,’ so he hasn’t played since Monday,” McCaffery said, adding that he was unsure whether Marble would be able to practice Thursday or Friday. He did say he’d know Thursday whether Marble would be able to participate fully in Iowa’s Black and Gold Blowout, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 19 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Outside of Marble’s illness, McCaffery said everyone else was healthy and fully practicing. As far as how the actual practices have been going, he made mention of how the team has managed to improve on its assist-to-turnover ratio from the first two practices and that the effort has been better at the defensive end of the court. He also said no one particular player has stood out more than anyone else, a sign he finds encouraging.
“My concern was, ‘Are we going to have enough shooting?’ and we’ve shot the ball extremely well,” McCaffery said. “Zach [McCabe] and [Josh] Oglesby probably been the best. But [Aaron] White’s shooting a lot better, [Melsahn] Basabe’s shooting a lot better — not from 3, but shooting it better, [Mike] Gesell has been better shooting the ball and a number of different players have been scoring.”