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You’ve Got Mail: Judging Fran McCaffery, Iowa Basketball’s Depth Chart and Much More!

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How many donuts are too many donuts to eat at one sitting? Wrong.

Grand Canyon v Iowa
What would it take for me to cut bait on Fran? Probably a lot.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The last year has taught me a lot about myself. The struggle I’ve always had is no matter how much I learn about myself, actually making a change is harder. It’s why, for example, I have no problem losing 30 pounds in a few months and then putting it all back on within a year.

It’s also why I know I’m super long-winded and tend to write things here that are too long for most of you to actually consume in one sitting, yet here we are again with simple answers to questions that are going to take you a while to read. Apologies in advance.

If you all would stop asking such solid questions, maybe I’d stop spending so many words answering them.


Three Up, Three Down

What food or beverage could you consume so much of, it would amaze or sicken others?

-WaterlooChazz

I’m definitely letting you off the hook far too easily by answering this after only two weeks, but what the heck. I’ve got two different thoughts here, though I’ll admit to not being able to really push my limits on this front of late. In college, my roommates (offensive and defensive linemen) and I would take every Sunday to gorge. After morning stretching and film room, we’d hit Wal-Mart (it was a small town) and walk out with a whole rotisserie chicken for each of us as well as a pair of two liter bottles of our soda of choice. We’d take down a chicken and a 2 liter for lunch and then order up a large pizza for each of us for dinner and kill the other 2 liter, all while never leaving our adjoining living room and soaking up NFL Sunday football.

That was more than a decade ago and I haven’t come close to seeing how far I could take it, but I feel like I wouldn’t have much issue taking down a couple chickens in one sitting. I’m partial to the dark meat and if we’re talking drumsticks and wings I think I could probably clean out a whole flock.

The other food I could devour, and I’m sure I’m not alone here, is donuts. I’ve got three boys under six and Saturdays are for the boys. That is to say that we let mom sleep in on Saturday mornings by road tripping to the local donut shop. We typically snag a dozen for the family.

The issue here is kids under six are much more interested in the toppings than the whole donut. Being a bit tight, I hate wasting food so inevitably end up eating my two plus the leftovers from 4-5 more from my kids. The only thing stopping me from taking down a dozen is my wife. With some buy in, I don’t doubt I could take down two dozen in a sitting. With something on the line, I’m not sure where my limit would be.

What would cause you to lose faith in Fran? Is it even possible for that to occur for you?
-HoyaGoon

Great question and one I’ve pondered a bit myself. It’s certainly possible, but I think it probably would take something out of character at this point.

This really comes down to perspective and expectations in my opinion. I hit peak Iowa fandom just as REDACTED took the helm so my Hawkeye basketball worldview is through the lens of never advancing in the tournament. I transferred to Iowa the same time as Todd Lickliter was hired and endured that hellhole in what should have been my prime cheering time.

When Fran was hired, he was selling exactly what I wanted to buy. I will admit I am probably anchored in my opinion of him because of that, but I also think a good portion of our fanbase is totally skewed in their opinions of him based on either hitting their peak fandom in the mid-80s or somehow completely forgetting what Lickliter did to the program.

I’m not giving the man a pass based on where he started, but ignoring the fact that an entire generation of kids in this state have grown up with the program as an afterthought is flat out reckless. Iowa basketball is its best when it controls the talent in this state and supplements with athletes from a few key metros (and frankly, uses impermissible benefits to get them).

So having said that, if Fran were to all of a sudden abandon what appears to be his strategy of getting back to that recruiting style and were to say, act as if he’s the coach at ISU and needs to exclusively fill the roster from out of state kids and transfers, I would have concerns. Not because that can’t work, but because that hasn’t been great for Iowa and Fran has shown no ability to actually do that.

I would also be ready to cut bait on him if his reputation (no, not the one about being a hothead) on ethics came into question or we started to have off the court issues. Say what you will about his temper, he is universally regarded off the court as being a tremendous person who is beloved by his players (apparently not including CJ Fredrick despite him coming here BECAUSE his uncle loved the guy) and who doesn’t come close to toeing the line. I would love to win more games, but I still find value in not having to worry about waking up to a headline about recruits having prostitutes or our coach being drunk in the bar.

And finally, I could be moved off my mark on Fran if he strung together two plus seasons with negative momentum. We all expect this year to be a major step back, but if for example we saw a ~.500 team this year turn into about the same or worse the following year without any significant recruiting momentum, ‘23-’24 would need to be a top-4 in the league type year in my mind to save face.

Nobody’s mentioning depth. What if we get a couple TPH guys and Weezy returns? Or if we somehow get 2 bigs and a guard from the TPH? Does anybody honestly see us going more than 7-8 deep next year? Also, how many starts/minutes will the freshmen get? I’m imagining quite a few depending on what we get from the TPH.

-My Heyward Sons

To me, the issue right now is not enough depth at a couple key spots so I don’t see an issue of having too much as likely.

As it stands, Iowa has one SG on the roster: Tony Perkins. He is a career 1-3 from beyond the arc. That is a glaring hole in the roster created by the departure of CJF. With Perkins and CJ, there was maybe 5 minutes of PT available at the 2 and the shooting issues weren’t insurmountable because you had Iowa’s all-time leader in three-point percentage expected to be thee guy. Now you have to get someone that can come in and knock down shots there, full stop.

The other hole, which we’ve known for a while, is at center. Josh Ogundele has loads of potential, but asking for more than 5-10 minutes out of him next season is a major risk. He has to continue to transform his body, which is possible over the next six months, but he also has to develop on the defensive side of the ball and become serviceable in the post.

As of now, his running mate will be the recently reclassified Riley Mulvey. I’ve stated in a couple places I think Mulvey is Big Ten ready physically and he will be capable of providing some post defense. At 6’11” and 240 pounds, he’s bigger than Luka Garza was when he got here and he’s in better shape. Add to that he is naturally a quicker, springier athlete and I think 10 minutes a night out of him next season is perfectly reasonable.

But if you’re getting 20 minutes tops out of those two, you either need two more guys in that area or someone capable of giving you 20+ a night. That’s where the portal comes in. There are two key names circling right now and I believe Fran should take both if he can get them.

Filip Rebraca of North Dakota is similar in size to Keegan Murray at 6’9”, but he’s bulkier and better suited to play minutes at the 5 and handle Big Ten post defense right now. Murray could certainly take some of those minutes in a small ball lineup, but some of the Big Tens’ big men would punish him physically down low.

The other name that has popped up is EJ Onu of NAIA Shawnee State. Scoff at the level of play at your own risk. He’s 6’11” 240 and has the athleticism of a Gabe Olaseni. He blocked more shots than anyone at the Division 1 level last season and as a junior, he blocked double that amount. He shoots a higher percentage from beyond the arc than CJ Fredrick and took more shots from downtown last season than did the departed CJF.

Ideally, you let him take 15+ a night at the 5, give Rebraca 10 there and 5 at the 4 and the rest gets split between Mulvey and Ogundele. The only place that creates any sort of bottleneck is the PF spot.

There, Murray is sure to get 25+ minutes a night. If you have Rebraca taking 5 minutes, that only leaves 10 minutes for Pat and Kris Murray. I think that may be selling Kris a bit short on PT, but I think you’d rather have that issue than the alternative.

At SF, I think you’re likely to see the McCaffery brothers largely split this role. Connor is your small ball SF at 6’6”, who can handle, pass and largely miss open 3s. Pat is more of the slather who brings length. I think that’s a decent combo to split ~30 minutes a night. I’d prefer more of Pat, but depending on how Fran decides to utilize his eldest child we may get more Connor.

That leaves you with around 10 minutes for the incoming Payton Sandfort. I think that’s about right. He’s got the length of Pat, but not the same level of athleticism. What he lacks there, he more than makes up for as a plus shooter. I think Iowa fans are going to end up liking him.

Lightning Round

Has the Iowa men’s bball team ever gone 0-fer in a BTen season?
-GradyDE

Yes! And no! Two times in program history has Iowa not won a single conference game. One of those times was in 1929-1930 when they went 0-0 in conference. So, no wins but no losses. Does that count?

The other was in 1911-1912 when they went 0-4. The catch here is that was the Western Conference, not the Big Ten. Fun fact: despite being 0-4, Iowa didn’t even finish last in the conference that year. Northwestern went 0-8 with a worse overall winning percentage. Nerds.

Is A. J. Edds destined to become the next AD at Iowa?
-IamSparty

No. Only because he is too young and I think Barta is out of town after we get a new university president. The caveat here is one of those candidates looks like a lock to be part of the good ol’ boys club, which might me Barta gets to ride off into the sunset over the next half decade plus. Perhaps that’s enough time to get Edds into the conversation?

Like Samson, will Petras find touch on his short passes now that some of his strength has been sapped by shaving his goatee?
-John Hawktoasten

Survey says:

What would Iowa football look like today if....…after Davis, they hired an OC that doesn’t have the last name “Ferentz”?
-SoCal_Hawk

The exact same. Because it would have still been KF making that call and it is still KF running the show.


That’s it for this week. Apologies for the length of this one (there’s a first time for everything!). Keep up the great questions and I’ll try to answer more succinctly next time.