After two straight losses that could have, and should have, been wins for Iowa, the Hawkeyes hope to get back on track tonight, finally playing at home after an extended stretch of away and neutral site games.
But things won’t get any easier tonight, Carver or not, as the Hawks are hosting the No. 12 ranked Maryland Terrapins. Fran McCaffery previewed the matchup and the current state of his team with the media yesterday. Highlights below, check out the full transcript here.
Q. When you’re hit with injuries and stuff like this like you have, how important for you and the coaches to stay positive, and it seems like you don’t want to hear anything about excuses. That was brought up after the game and you right away did I missed that. How important is that?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I think you can really fall into a trap with that. We’re not the only team that’s going through this. We’re not the only team in this league that’s going through this. ... And so that’s an opportunity for them to step up and produce when given the opportunity ...
But things change throughout the course of the season. You have to make adjustments, and guys have to recognize that. The only way we’re going to overcome it is if everybody is on the same page in regard to the attitude that’s necessary to continue to be successful.
This is a weird non-answer to what I feel like is a perfectly valid question. Of course guys need to buy in, of course they’re not the only team going through it, but what is Fran doing to make adjustments for his players to realize that? I’d wager that Tuesday’s game against Nebraska was an example of him not adjusting, considering the pressure Garza was facing the entire game.
Q. Even without a lot of your best pieces, you’ve managed to have a really good and efficient offense, even with some of the absences. What has helped the offense continue to grow and be successful and be consistent?
FRAN McCAFFERY: We still have good ball movement. Obviously, Luka helps a lot, having that post presence that can really score. But he’s also done a really good job passing the ball out of the double-team, and he gets to the glass ...That’s important. Connor moves the ball. Toussaint can break defenses down ... you’ve just got to move it and then pick your spots when you go and try to spread the defense as much as you can.
For all that was bad about the game on Tuesday, I actually wrote that the ball movement was very good. It has been all season, and it makes a difference. If that keeps up, the shots will (hopefully) start falling.
Q. What is Toussaint specifically, and your guards in general, what are they facing tomorrow night against Maryland?
FRAN McCAFFERY: A tough talented group, Obbviously, Cowan is one of the best players in the country, but Ayala and Morsell, Wiggins, these are veteran guys that have really proven to be terrific players in this league. Smith is really good, too. And that presents different problems. Scott has been a fine addition to that team.
Not only do they have versatile options and athletic backcourt people, they’re big. They’re all 6’5”, 6’6”, except for Cowan who’s got a tremendous burst. So that presents challenges that are somewhat unique.
Joe Toussaint will definitely be challenged tonight. Definitely watch out for that one.
Q. CJ is out for an extended period of time. Where is the biggest void that he’s maybe going to leave?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, you know, he’s just a terrific player that does everything, makes baskets, makes plays off the dribble, defends. He’s not a mistake maker, so you lose a guy like that, it’s going to hurt your team. But it’s an opportunity for somebody else. I think Bakari has proven he can do it. Kriener has been terrific. Connor can be versatile. Those guys then have to log more minutes, all of them, including Cordell...
I’m on team give Pemsl less minutes, but that’s just me. I will say, Connor being the only player to make more than one three the other night took me by surprise. He’s coming along!
Q. Garza played 36 minutes Tuesday night. Seems like he’s built for that. Is that a fair assessment?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Oh, yeah, he’s capable. We try to get him out a minute here, a minute there... He needs to be on the floor.
He needs to be on the floor might be the understatement of the year.
Q. You mentioned the doubles and triples going at Luka. How do you combat that moving forward?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, there’s no simple solution. You have to move the ball, screen, and cut. You have to go in and out. He has to keep working. We have to keep recognizing when he is open he’s got to get it. We can’t stop going to him because they’re doubling him, but we’ve seen it all already, whether it’s just sitting on top of him or doubling on the catch, doubling on the bounce, doubling from different locations. There’s nothing he’s not used to, and if there’s two on one, then you’ve got an advantage somewhere else.
Other players making shots will certainly help, too. Nebraska could put all of their focus on him the other night because nobody else was making shots.