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30 Days Until Hawkeye Basketball: Connor McCaffery

Can the redshirt junior bounce back from the year off (and then some)?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Franvember 2019 has begun and the annual countdown to the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball season continues with his son, Connor McCaffery!

55: Luka Garza
51: Aidan Vanderloo
35: Cordell Pemsl

Connor McCaffery
Guard, 6’5”, 205
Sophomore, Iowa City, IA (West)

Connor McCaffery has been through a lot in his two years as an Iowa Hawkeye. His freshman travails started with a commitment to baseball before an 11th hour departure from Christian Williams led to him taking off the redshirt in a four-game freshman season. Why four games? A bout with mononucleosis turned dire which forced him out of the whole season. The illness also derailed his plans to play baseball in 2018!

His 2018-19 basketball season started exciting enough for me to write a bit of an ode to him (and Ryan Kriener) after a strong performance in the Hawks’ preseason tournament. Through much of December, he had strong statistics before a concussion against Western Carolina held him out of the Savannah State game. He was never really able to recover that early season magic and saw a bifurcated stat line:

Connor McCaffery 2018-19

Timeline PPG APG RPG FG% FT% FT Rate Games
Timeline PPG APG RPG FG% FT% FT Rate Games
Pre-Concussion 7.5 3.5 2.0 43.59% 82.46% 146.15% 11
Post-Concussion 2.9 2.8 1.2 31.03% 65.00% 68.97% 23

(After getting through the Iowa baseball season without injury, he suffered one during his summer league baseball escapades, though they shouldn’t affect this season)

Sure, the competition jumped up, but the line which continually sticks out to me are the free throws. Not only was he more assertive in getting to the line but he was almost much stronger when he got there before his concussion in 17 more attempts.

Detractors will say that some of this has to do with him lacking a shot and being a one-dimensional offensive player. Fair! But he was showing more willingness to shoot the three towards the end of the season and was okay at them as opposed to bad: 4/12 in Iowa’s final 6 games vs. 3/19 in the other 28.

McCaffery was a solid pass-first PG and the type of player you’d want to see alongside a smaller guard like Jordan Bohannon. Hawkeye Sports had him as the assists leader in 15 games with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.37, good for fifth in the Big Ten.

So what does his 2019-20 season look like?

He’ll certainly have a shot at starting with Isaiah Moss’s departure and Jordan Bohannon’s season up in the air after offseason surgery, though Joe Toussaint probably has first dibs on either spot as a dynamic athlete. Whether he starts or not, he’ll play his fair share, as he averaged 18.6 minutes a game. Including Bohannon’s production, Iowa will be missing over half of their returning points per game...can Connor get to 10 points a game?

If Iowa’s able to get back into The Big Dance, they’ll need production to stay the same at the guard spots. Connor McCaffery factors into that calculus and has shown what he’s capable of. The question is whether he can make that the standard and not the exception.