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Fran Speaks: The Opener

Life after Luka starts now

Day of the German Beer Photo by Bernd Weissbrod/picture alliance via Getty Images

After thoroughly dismantling Slippery Rock last week, Iowa officially takes on something called Longwood tonight at 9 friggin’ PM.

Fran’s media availabilities typically have slightly more substance than, say, a Kirk Ferentz presser, but there’s only so much you can say about a team that’s starting a seventh-year point guard.

Overall, there were some nice nuggets that we’ll talk about when we get to them.

The first question was about all the “scorers” Iowa has, as if it has a bushelful of scorers at its disposable. I’m going to brush that off entirely because I am a priest in the church of the Reverse Jinx.

This next one is about his son Pat.

Q. If he starts making threes consistently, how much is that going to help his game evolve on offense?

FRAN McCAFFERY: I think a tremendous amount. In some ways you could probably say that about everybody. If they’re making threes, it sets up your drive. It creates more space for other players because they’re going to be chasing you more rather than be in the gap. He’s a good 3-point shooter. He was never a volume 3-point shooter. He was always a scorer. Even in high school when he averaged a bunch of points, he made some threes, but he was back-cutting and getting out of the break and shooting pull-ups and leaners and floaters. He has a knack for being able to make those kinds of shots.

But he’s really worked on it, his 3-point shot. This summer he shot about a thousand every day, and that’s going to make a big difference for him.

Pat McCaffery shot 13-43 from deep last season, so maybe it’s a good thing he shot ONE THOUSAND a day. I’m not certain anyone ever really believes he’ll develop into a serious deep threat, but uhhhh they say dream it, wish it, do it.

In retrospect, kind of an odd question seeing as how three balls made up less than 30 percent of the shots he took.

Q. Have you had other teams even at other places, Siena and Greensboro, that you put as much defensive pressure as this team is going to do?

FM: My Siena teams were really good. They had the ability to do that. They would clamp you. But I had a very special starting five. They were elite. What they had the ability to do was score in the 90s and pretty much get a stop whenever they wanted it. Okay, we need two or three stops in a row, now — but they were playing heavy minutes.

It’s really hard to do if you’re playing heavy minutes, especially if you’re playing fast the way we do on — we’re running on makes and misses and we’re pushing and driving and the running motion. We’re not walking up, running a set, everybody slows down, half the time guys walk down the floor, and the teams that play that way — we don’t play that way. If you’re going to really be exerting a lot of effort on offense and you’ve got to turn around and do it on defense, then you need bodies.

It’s always kinda fun to hear Fran talk about his teams prior to Iowa. But again, another weird question. I know Iowa loves to press... but I also know it doesn’t work “all the time” or “as much as it probably should” and “why hasn’t Fran hired a defensive coordinator yet?”

Q. Looks like you have games roughly every three days from now through quite an extended period. Is that a good thing?

FM: I think so. You get to a point where you bring them in in June and you’re going against each other every day for a long time, and it gets to the point when we had our closed scrimmage with Bradley, it was good to see some new faces. Same thing with Slippery Rock, and now it’s time to play other people. I think everybody pretty much gets to that point.

I just looked at the schedule, and Iowa plays all but two of its games in either two or three day spans between now and Dec. 9, when it gets a nine-day break between Iowa State and Utah State—which is kind of a fun back-to-back matchup.

Anyway, the schedule becomes a bit more manageable until February, where the Hawkeyes play eight games throughout the month.

Gonna be busy for us blogger boys, too!

More interestingly, this is the first time I can recall Fran, or a coach at all for that matter, openly talk about the double secret probation scrimmages each team plays every year. I remember it getting out one year that Iowa played one of the Doug McDermott Creighton teams and everyone wanted to keep it a big secret, and we were told to not ask about it. Feel like we can do better than Bradley.