We all remember what happened the last time the Iowa Hawkeyes faced the Purdue Boilermakers. Or maybe you don’t, like me, because you’ve blocked it out of your memory. Well, Fran McCaffery and his Iowa Hawkeyes squad haven’t forgotten. The Iowa head coach met with the media yesterday afternoon ahead of tonight’s home finale rematch against the Boilermakers, and while he claims nothing has changed about this Purdue team, he’s certainly aware of what went so horribly wrong with his team last month.
Highlights below; check out the full transcript here.
Q. Three-point shooting seems like it’s huge with Purdue and huge pretty much in all these games?
FRAN McCAFFERY: ...But the thing about them is they’ve had some games where they haven’t made them. We all know — you can look at the box score and see that. But they’ve got a lot of different guys that can make them, and you’ve got to guard them all on the perimeter, so it makes them hard to guard, especially when you’ve got the scorers inside that they have.
Fran’s not wrong here, but the Boilermakers torched the Hawkeyes from beyond the perimeter last time. We’ll probably be seeing a real concentrated effort to guard shots beyond the perimeter.
Q. What has Ryan Kriener given your program in his four years here?
FRAN McCAFFERY: A character guy that’s an incredibly hard worker, that’s very talented, kept getting better, really effective on a consistent basis in terms of skill, toughness, intelligence. Great in the locker room, great leader, great representative of the program off the court, and a guy that will be really missed when you look at his collective body of work.
Personally, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Ryan Kriener, but boy, he has really improved over his career, especially this year. This year has really given him an opportunity to prove himself, and I think he definitely has stepped up to the plate. I will miss his presence next year for sure.
Q. Can you quantify what he’s meant in terms of the progress that the program has made in the last two years?
FRAN McCAFFERY: He definitely has had a tremendous impact in the last two years ... he can come off the bench and score. He can come off the bench and lead. He can come off the bench and bring toughness, and he can come off the bench and be a defender. He can switch ball screens and guard small guys. He can close and contest at the rim and block shots. Just phenomenally valuable, and one thing I always say about him is he’s not out there making mistakes, plays within himself. He has a complete skill set.
That’s a pretty solid assessment of Kriener, especially this year. There have been times in the games where this team has struggled the most that Kriener has been the x-factor. He’s become a real leader.
Q. Riley is going to go through senior night, and he’s got another year if he wants it. How did that come about? Did he come to you and say he wanted to do it?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I think he’s going to graduate, and he’s either going to make a decision to play elsewhere, kind of like Darius Stokes did, or — pretty well-rounded young guy. He could go get a job and join the workforce if he wants ... we’ll support him either way. If he wants to play another year, we’ll help get him placed. If he doesn’t, we’ll do whatever we can to help him in whatever area that he wants to go into.
Not exactly a surprise that Riley Till won’t be given another scholarship, but still news nonetheless. I’m sure Riley will succeed wherever he is next year.
And lastly, Fran was asked a (somewhat) obvious question about Luka Garza:
Q. Do you think Luka is the Player of the Year in college basketball?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I do. I believe the thing that separates him, not to disrespect anybody else that’s under consideration, because there’s some phenomenal players that put up great numbers. The consistency of productivity, considering the quality of teams in our league and the quality of big guy that he’s doing it again I think is what separates him.
Q. How impressive is the consistency, 20 or more points?
FRAN McCAFFERY: It’s really hard to do in this league ... the things that they’re doing to stop him, and it just doesn’t seem to affect him in any way. He continues to get better with his ability to play out of a double-team in terms of making plays for other people, and if he’s having an off day shooting, he’s going to be all over the glass ... it takes special character to consistently perform the way he does and an incredible amount of maturity to approach the game every day the way that he does.
MAKE. IT. HAPPEN, AMERICA.