If you’ve spent any time on the internet today or last night, you as a Hawkeye loyalist, have almost certainly seen the kerfuffle all over about Iowa’s Fran McCaffery telling his team not to shake the hands of North Dakota players following an 84-73 win last night.
"The game's over. Move on."— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) December 21, 2016
- @IowaHoops' Fran McCaffery, on North Dakota's play in final seconds. https://t.co/I4IdrVOldU
The Interwebs have been aflutter with hot takes on the situation, from the outrageously uninformed comment section of Deadspin, to the Vegas-minded folks at CBS Sports, who turned a sympathetic eye towards Iowa in the situation.
ESPN said that McCaffery regretted the decision to not shake hands this morning, and that’s probably true. However, I still think Fran made the right decision in not sending Iowa players to line up at the end.
And here’s why:
People seem to be forgetting (or just avoiding) this quote from McCaffery at the end of the game:
We don’t need Pete getting knocked to the floor, we don’t need guys getting up in Jordan’s face, we don’t need Nicholas Baer’s head getting chopped off. We don’t need it.
And that’s it. Argument over. Fran is 100 percent right. He saw a risk for his team by lining up, and he decided to just eliminate that risk.
No one is talking about how McCaffery has 31 years of coaching experience at the D-I level. He’s done this song and dance in over 500 games. He knows player body language, attitude and how things escalate.
If Fran made the decision to not line up and shake hands with the team based on the way someone was even looking at Peter Jok during the tip, then I would still respect his decision. He’s been coaching longer than most of us have been doing anything. He’s a professional, and it was of his professional opinion to not line up.
This is nothing to say that Iowa has been uncharacteristically plagued by injuries as of late, and sustaining another one right before Big Ten play begins would be especially problematic.
This also doesn’t take in to account the egregious flopping of UND players during the game, and the buffoonery at the end that sparked Fran’s decision in the first place. But that doesn’t even need to be considered.
Again, all that matters is the fact that Fran’s job is to coach, and that involves protecting your players. Coach is what he did. That’s what he gets paid handsomely to do.
This will blow over. For now, respect Fran’s decision. He’s certainly made bad calls during a game, but this one we can all agree with.