Fran McCaffery -- as well as the other Iowa coaches -- are doing the I-Club circuit around Iowa now, which means lots of schmoozing, lots of stories -- and a few hints about the future. Hawkeye Report had a transcript (and video footage) of Fran's appearance at the Quad Cities I-Club and it's worth a look.
On 2014 recruiting:
Q: Are you done with the 2014 recruiting class?
McCAFFERY: No. We are still involved with some guys.
Q: Do you get a sense that something might happen there?
McCAFFERY: I don't know. We will see. It's hard to say.
After Iowa struck out on Willie Atwood and Cole Huff a few weeks ago, we theorized that Iowa was done with its 2014 recruiting class -- in part because no one else really seemed to be on Iowa's radar for 2014. But Fran's comments here certainly force us to re-assess that viewpoint. I'm not sure we know who Iowa might be targeting -- the crootin' sites are awfully quiet about 2014 targets -- but there must be someone that Fran has an eye on.
The curious thing about potentially added another player to Iowa's 2014 class is that it's hard to figure out where a player might fit into the mix for Iowa next year.
There's also Iowa's two other incoming '14 recruits, F Dominique Uhl and G Brady Ellingson; based on Fran's comments (here and elsewhere), he seems to be counting on Uhl to give Iowa some minutes (which also makes sense given Iowa's depleted front court depth). Unless Ellingson is just torching the nets from deep, I think he's a pretty good bet for a redshirt next season.
Even if Ellingson does indeed redshirt, we're still looking at a 10-man rotation -- that's a lot of guys to find minutes for with just 200 to divvy up per game. Fran values depth so that he can play a high-tempo, high-pressure game and substitute liberally, but juggling that many guys still isn't easy. So what might Iowa be looking for in a remaining 2014 recruit? An instant-impact player who could force his way into that 10-man rotation? Or a potential diamond in the rough that Fran could stash away for a year or so and develop? I think we'd all probably prefer the former, but it also doesn't seem like there are many (any?) of those guys left on the market. If it's the latter... well, I won't doubt Fran -- his success with under-the-radar guys like White, Basabe, and Olaseni is certainly Exhibits A, B, and C of the "Trust in Fran" philosophy -- but it would be a curious use of an open scholarship. But we'll have to wait and see what -- if anything -- develops this summer. Personally, I'd bet on Iowa still banking that scholarship for 2015. Speaking of...
On 2015 recruiting:
Q: With the two commits that you have, is the front court a focus in 2015?
McCAFFERY: Yeah, we have to get some big guys and some size. For me it's never position, but skill set.
This is pretty much in line with expectations. So far in 2015 Iowa's added a wing player (F Brandon Hutton) and a shooter (G Andrew Fleming), but bigs remain a, uh, very big need. Iowa didn't really replace Basabe and McCabe in their 2014 class (although Uhl seems destined to be asked to fill some of their minutes) and they'll lose White and Olaseni from the front court in 2015. So yeah -- there's a pressing need for big bodies to wear black and gold. Iowa's pursuing several targets for '15 (including the wonderfully-named D.J. Hogg) and with three scholarships still open (depending on whether or not anything else winds up happening in the '14 class), I'd expect at least two of them to get filled by bigs.
On Twin Towers:
Q: Will you potentially look at playing the twin towers next season?
McCAFFERY: Possibly. We will see how everything comes together.
Since Woodbury arrived at Iowa and Olaseni emerged as a bona fide player for Iowa, the possibility of getting both guys on the court at the same time has been a tantalizing prospect for Iowa fans. After all, it's not often that a college team can field two guys that big at the same time -- let alone two bigs with as much to offer as Woody and Gabe. It's nice to see that Fran also seems to be considering this potential combination. I'm not sure how often we'll see it -- playing both of them could push one of White or Uthoff to the bench and it could lead to some fatigue issues, since Olaseni is Woody's primary backup and should see most of his minutes when Woody gets a breather (or is in foul trouble) -- but it's still fun to speculate about some Twin Tower action for Iowa in 2015.
Q: How hungry has [losing in Round One of the NCAA Tournament] made the team?
McCAFFERY: Very hungry. They got a taste of it, felt what it was like, and experienced the journey. We are looking forward to the challenge next year.
Jeez, Fran, didn't you get the memo? The NCAA approved "unlimited meals" for athletes! Woody needs to eat! But seriously: it's certainly gratifying to hear that the painful season-ending loss to Tennessee has apparently galvanized this Iowa team and given them plenty of motivation for the coming season. Granted, Fran's statement is exactly the sort of comment you'd expect a coach to make... but it's also very believable. It's certainly not hard to see how the end of the season could have left a bad taste in the mouths of the Iowa players and given them plenty to prove in 2015. Iowa made it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years (and that was indeed good), but the end of the season didn't go the way anyone hoped or expected. There's plenty of room for improvement for Iowa in 2015 -- and it will be very fun to see how much they're able to improve.
Again, go read/watch the full I-Club coverage of Fran -- it's worth it. And if you've had a chance to take in Fran (or any of the other Iowa coaches) on the I-Club circuit, feel free to post any observations, recaps, or stray thoughts of your own in the comments below.