News in a minute. But first a sno-cone.
You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression. New Iowa head basketball coach Fran McCaffery was introduced to the Hawkeye faithful yesterday. First, the obligatory press conference, which was initially hijacked by a 15-minute soliloquy by Gary Barta (contract generalities: 6 years, $1.1M initially escalating to $1.35, plus performance bonuses). The consensus opinion on McCaffery's performance? Naaaaaailed it. McCaffery said all the right things for the hungry Iowa fanbase: He wants to run, he wants to press, he'll adjust the gameplan to the opponent, he wants former players involved in the program (including a potential assistant coaching position for a former Hawkeye), he has wanted to coach at Iowa since his Lehigh team played here in 1986 (with the obligatory rundown of Raveling's last lineup), he once used Julia Roberts in an attempt to lure Jess Settles to Notre Dame. It was a virtuoso performance, even if it did follow StoopsMyAss' formula, and brought even the most hardened of skeptics onboard.
McCaffery then had individual meetings with the players Monday afternoon. Presumed returning starting point guard Cully Payne, who had been one of the few players openly supportive of Lickliter before his firing two weeks ago and a presumed transfer possibility, came away impressed:
"I’m ready to go right now. Let’s play," Payne said. "I’ve got 3 hours in the weight room now and I’m excited about it. I think we found a good fit...."
Payne said McCaffery told the Hawkeyes that he was there for them, ready and willing to help them in any way he could.
"He said that we’re his guys, and I think we all liked a lot of what we heard," Payne said.
"Up-tempo offense, switching defenses, guys like that. It’s fun to get up and down the court, and when you see that his team this year scored 75 points a game, you know it’s not just words."
Payne believes that all current Hawkeyes are buying into what they are hearing from McCaffery, who will begin his 15th season as a head coach next fall.
Some players, specifically Aaron Fuller and Brennan Cougill, have remained silent; while we believe Payne when he says that he thinks everyone is "buying into what they are hearing," we won't sleep well at night until we have confirmation. There was then the public event, where about 500 fans greeted the new coach, and we're offically off and running.
- Contrary to popular belief, Lickliter did not kill puppies: ESPN college basketball writer (and Iowa native) Eamonn Brennan writes that McCaffery's opening press conference was designed to portray the new coach as the anti-Lickliter and appeal to the almost-genetic predisposition of an entire generation of Iowa fans to the Tom Davis run-and-gun. Leave it to an Indiana fan to write the best summation of Iowa fandom we've read since the firing.
- Oh yeah, that other sport: Fight for Iowa has remained focused on spring football, playing the picture game usually handled by Morehouse. The skinny: Troy Johnson might be winning out at MLB, Micah Hyde is probably ahead of Jordan Bernstine at the open cornerback spot, and James Ferentz is running with the starting offensive line. There's also some message board scuttlebutt about DJK once again not getting with the program. Grain of salt right now.
- Oh yeah, that other other sport: KCRG posted their wrestling clip package, Sound of the Year. It pisses intensity. You should be watching it now.
- When you were young, you were the king of carrot flowers: Jeff Magnum, who basically wrote Neutral Milk Hotel's stellar 1998 album In an Aeroplane, Over the Sea -- ostensibly a loose concept album about his obsession with The Diary of Anne Frank -- then disappeared from view for 12 years, is making a one-time-only appearance this May in New York. Only weeks before the guns all came and rained on everyone.