Yesterday was Iowa Basketball’s Media Day, and Fran and co. are ready for another season. Obviously, with four seniors (Uthoff, Woodbury, Gesell, and Clemmons) from last year’s team graduating, there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding this year’s iteration of Hawkeye basketball. Let’s take a look at some of Fran McCaffery’s quotes from his press conference yesterday and dissect the things he said.
We’ll start with a question that was about replacing the size of Adam Woodbury this season
Q. You don't have a seven-footer on the team but you're playing 6'7", 6'8" guys in the post. Is that going to impact how you defend teams, what types of defense you use?
FRAN: No, it won't. While we don't have a 7'1" center, we have way more length and size than we had last year. When you look at the physical makeup of our team in terms of strength and length, we're in a much better position this year to defend in the post than we were last year. Everything kind of fell on Woody (Adam Woodbury), and he was spectacular, except for one or two occasions when he got in foul trouble.
This is an interesting answer because I definitely remember Woody getting into foul trouble more than one or two times last season. Do I just remember the things I hate? Who knows. Anyway, it’s interesting. Woodbury’s size will definitely be missed, as will Uthoff’s, but there is some size walking through the door in Ryan Kriener, Tyler Cook, and Cordell Pemsl. Kriener is the most obvious choice to replace Woody in the 5 spot, I’d say, because his wingspan is 7’3” (!!!) and he’s about 240 pounds. He has the size that Iowa will need to defend post-ups and protect the rim. Maybe he’ll enjoy gouging eyeballs too? One can only hope.
In Pemsl and Cook, you have a couple 6’8” forwards who weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 240-250 pounds. Those aren’t small guys, either. I kind of envision Pemsl being more of a post player on defense because of his size, and judging by comments Fran made about him, he’s going to be really good at that. Cook is a different story, however - I feel that Cook is going to play a similar role to Uthoff last season, where he is tasked with guarding the taller stretch players on opposing teams due to his athleticism and overall abilities. Only time will tell.
Let’s see what he had to say about people bringing the ball up the court.
No, I don't think it'll be a lot different, but you will see the guys get it off the glass and go. Tyler will do that, Ahmad Wagner will do that, Dom Uhl will do that. We kind of did that with Jarrod and with Aaron White, but pretty much everybody we have can rebound the ball and go, and maybe with Ryan it's a couple, three dribbles moving on and then sprint.
But when you have a front court that can run like our group, we take off rather than worry about who we're getting the ball to because that takes time.
Oh man. This could be fun. I know that Uthoff and White did this in their playing days, and that Iowa is best when they’ve been able to get out in transition (like most teams), but can you imagine a team where literally everyone just grabs a rebound and makes a break for it? If Fran is telling the truth about this (more on honesty in a bit), this offense could be super fun to watch in fast break situations. Cook, Wagner, Uhl, the guards ALL getting the opportunity to bring it up? Hopefully we can find somebody to do alley-oops like back in the Aaron White days. Those were fun.
What was I saying about honesty? Oh, yeah. Take a look at this answer to a question about Tyler Cook.
Well, I think he's capable of being a star. I really do. You guys that have been around me know that I say what I think typically, so it's not like let's go easy and not push him. I have a responsibility to be honest, and I think he's an impact player, certainly on our team, in our league, and on a national level. I think he's that good.
“I HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO BE HONEST.” Man, if only every coach of revenue sports at the University of Iowa thought this way. Not saying that Kirk Ferentz isn’t honest, but I do wish that he’d at least be a bit more transparent. Fran has always said what he thinks (unless, you know, he thought it was going to get him in trouble) and his answers are always thoughtful and reflective, which is a nice change of pace to the man who coined “That’s football.”
Oh, and we’re pretty excited about Tyler Cook, too. Really, really excited.
What do the rotations look like, Fran? They finished yet?
No, I think it's a little early for that. I mean, I think you could pencil in some guys, but six, seven, eight, nine, we've got too many guys, and that's a good problem to have. A lot of times you get to this point and you look and say, okay, well, these three guys are definitely not playing. I don't have that with this team. Everybody is doing good things, scoring the ball, and playing smart. I don't have a mistake maker. I don't have a guy who's confused every day. I don't have a guy who's out of shape. So we've got stiff competition for what minutes are available, and there's a lot of minutes available. They're going after them.
This is pretty intriguing. On one hand, I’m excited to see such a deep team this season after last year’s team started out looking deep and then kind of faded down the stretch. Obviously, you know who’s going to play a good amount: Jok, Uhl, Baer, Wagner, Cook, Christian Williams, Dale Jones. That’s already seven guys! Isaiah Moss and Brady Ellingson have already been around for at least a year, too. Then the rest are all freshman who will be vying for a spot on the court. I think Ryan Kriener and Jordan Bohannon have inside shots at some quality playing time, with Cordell Pemsl also in the running. I just named 11 players already. This season could be fun!!! On the other hand, people who expect playing time and don’t get it could become restless, and then transfer? Speaking of:
Q. In terms of recruiting, I know you can't talk specifics, but when you have more commitments than you have spots, how do you approach that?
FRAN: Well, you know, it's not a conundrum until it is. We've got time. With regard to my son, he's on board; he gets it. He's also thinking about baseball, as well, so that's a whole other deal. But I'm going to support him either way, whatever he wants to do, and he visited for baseball last week, so that was interesting, and he really enjoyed that. So I was a parent on the visit, so that was interesting. We'll see.
RECRUITING! As we (and you, the fine readers of BHGP) have pointed out, Iowa has offered more scholly’s than they have available for coming seasons. Glad to see someone’s asking Fran about it. Also interesting that it sounds like Connor might opt to do baseball instead? I very well could be reading too far into that, though. Not a whole ton of information given by Fran about this, but at the same time, I’m sure there’s also a lot of uncertainties surrounding it and he doesn’t want to tip his hand in any way. And the fact that you’re not really allowed to talk about recruting specifically and such.
Lastly, let’s talk about goals.
The bottom line is what I wanted to do was be a player on a national level, build the building back up, and make it exciting for our players, for our fans. I wanted to win big games, win big games on the road, and develop a mindset that enables you to do that. It's not easy to go win at North Carolina, at Michigan State. First time we went into Michigan State, we lost by 38. We go back there and beat them by 18 or whatever it was, but that's over.
So the key now is to try to maintain some consistency with what we put together, and that's a challenge for the next group, and it's a challenge for our coaching staff. This is a different team, and it's a young team with 10 freshmen and sophomores. We have great chemistry and great character. I know that sounds cliche, but it's so true. We have a group of guys that are together, and they truly like one another and they respect one another and they compete hard and they learn quickly. Not all young groups learn quickly.
Oh no. I’m buying into the 2016 Iowa Men’s Basketball hype train. IOWA WILL WIN THE BIG TEN. Please, please stop. THEY WILL WIN THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT. Please. I beg of you... LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR 2016-17 NATIONAL CHAMPION IOWA HAWKEYES. What have I done to myself?
To read the full transcript of his Media Day presser, click here.