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WHY FRAN MCCAFFERY REALLY LIKES TREY DICKERSON

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We all know how Kirk Ferentz likes to wax nostalgic during press conferences, but what about Fran McCaffery? If he were comparing incoming point guard, Trey Dickerson, to someone he's coached in the past, who would it be?

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Gregory Shamus

Lately it seems like we have been inundated with press conferences. We regularly get the weekly update from Kirk Ferentz, we just heard Greg Davis and Phil Parker talk during the bye week, and we also got to hear Fran McCaffery for the first time in a while last Thursday at the men's basketball media day. Each person handles a press conference differently, but, after a while, we begin to know what to expect from whoever is standing at the podium. For instance, by now, we know that a standard Kirk Ferentz press conference will usually include references to the past. He will either compare the current season to past seasons at Iowa -- whether that be from his current stint as the Hawkeyes' head coach, or back from when he was an assistant in the 80s -- or he will talk about how a certain player reminds him of Dallas Clark or Chad Greenway.

Now, I know we all like to poke fun at Ferentz for constantly living in the past, but, to a certain extent, we all do like to do this very same thing, too. For instance, we look at this year's football team and pray that it's closer to the 2008 version than the 2007 one. Or, in relation to players, we look at someone like Brandon Scherff and compare and contrast him to the mauler that was Robert Gallery. We do these mental exercises so that we have reference points for the future. The 2014 football team has a ridiculously awful offense and what looks like a pretty awesome defense. That's not always a recipe for success, but it worked in 2004 and 2009, so maybe it can work again. Robert Gallery, Bryan Bulaga, and Riley Reiff were all first round draft picks, Brandon Scherff should easily be one too. And because we do this, it should be no surprise that coaches do this, too. After all, a coach's job depends on how these players perform. So, out on the recruiting trail, the coaches are going to look at a recruit's skill set and try to compare it to what they've seen in successful players in the past.

All of this brings me back to the basketball team and Fran McCaffery. I'm almost positive that Fran does this too. He doesn't seem to come right out and say that a current Iowa player reminds him of somebody that he previously coached, but you can tell by the types of players he recruits and the words he uses to describe them, that he most likely does this. From what I can tell in looking at McCaffery's roster construction since he's been at Iowa, he pretty much has four distinct types of players he desires: 1) A small, speedy point guard that can push the ball up the court in transition; 2) At least one pure shooter that can catch and fire out on the perimeter; 3) A bevy of tall, rangy, versatile forwards that can play a combination of the three, four, or five positions; and 4) At least one true center that can run the court in transition. All four of those player types adds up to the style of basketball that McCaffery wants to play. On offense, that means up-tempo, driving the ball to the hoop for easy lay ups, drawn fouls, or kicking the ball outside for open threes. On defense, that means up-tempo, full-court and half-court pressure, while mixing man and different variations of zones. Out of those four player-types listed above, there was one missing from last year's squad that McCaffery filled in this year's recruiting class: point guard.

Since the departure of Bryce Cartwright after the 2011-2012 season, Iowa has lacked a speedy true point guard. Over the last two seasons, Iowa has relied on a mix of Devyn Marble, Mike Gesell, and Anthony Clemmons to try and fill that role. But none of them could really fill it quite to perfection. Marble was a great combo guard, but he was not the lightning quick point man that McCaffery would ideally like to have handling the ball at all times. He's also in the NBA now, so he's not an option for this upcoming season, either. Mike Gesell showed an improved ability to get to the basket last year, and he also upped his assists and lowered his turnovers while doing so. However, he too lacks the elite quickness Fran likes, and may eventually be better suited to slide over and make a living taking more of his patented corner three pointers. Finally, Anthony Clemmons is coming off of a sophomore slump, in which all reports have him working his butt off to overcome this offseason, but still, he is not a proven offensive point guard; Fran always talks about his defensive skills first and foremost, when mentioning him to the media. This left Iowa with a hole to fill, and that's where Trey Dickerson comes in.

Here's what McCaffery had to say about Dickerson during his press conference last week:

It doesn't mean that we can't play Trey Dickerson, for example, to go a little further into your question. He's the guy that's different. The reason why we brought him in, he's different than everything else we have. He's a creator. He's great in the pick and roll. He can score.

He loads people up. So if you have shooters on the floor, like, for example, if he was on the floor with Pete and Josh and Jarrod, he's going to find those guys for open shots. If you have your longer athletic lineup, he's going to be able to penetrate in the lane, find guys near the basket, throw alley oop passes up near the rim.

The break will run really well as a result. So we've got some options there with Trey as a scoring 1 and a creative 1.

Boom. Right off the bat, Trey Dickerson is "the guy that's different." Fran talks about his ability to "create" things on the offensive side of the ball. He's a distributor and a scorer; he can run the break; oh, and he can run the pick and roll, too. That last sentence alone has me excited that Dickerson is donning the black and gold. Iowa has been passable in the pick and roll the last couple of years, but this portion of the offense fell off a bit once Bryce Cartwright graduated. He was a master at running the pick and roll with guys like Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White. But those things Fran lists after saying that Dickerson is "different" aren't really that different from what Iowa already had. What makes Dickerson different is his speed. Here's an old scouting report for him, that still holds up pretty well:

  • Strengths:

    Dickerson is extremely fast with the ball, and he is even more dangerous in transition. To this point, his ball-handling is his biggest attribute, but the shooting is progressing very nicely.

  • Weaknesses:
  • With someone that plays as fast as Dickerson does, turnovers do happen. He needs to work on playing under control and limiting the turnovers.

Not since Cartwright, has Iowa had a true point guard with the ability to use his speed to burn opposing defenses in transition. But if there is one player that I think Fran McCaffery would go all Kirk Ferentz and compare Trey Dickerson to, it would be Ronald Moore.

For those of you not familiar, Ronald Moore was the starting point guard for Siena for just about every game of Fran's final four seasons as head coach for the Saints. If you do remember him, it's most likely as the guy who, against Ohio State in the 2009 NCAA tournament, knocked down a three pointer to tie the game at the end of the first over time, and then also knocked the game-winning three pointer in the second over time. Similar to Dickerson, Moore was a lightly-recruited, undersized point guard. Here's his bio from the official Siena athletics website (emphasis mine):

True point guard with great vision...Has emerged as great team leader...Clutch performer who has a flair for the dramatic...Slippery ball handler, terrific passer and outstanding defender... Takes care of the basketball...Possesses tremendous composure and courage...Plays game at full throttle, excelling in transition...Has range beyond 3-point arc...Sees the floor extremely well and gets his teammates involved...Game savvy and court awareness make him one of the most critical players on the floor...Excellent rebounder as a result of his athleticism and his ability to read the game...Durable presence who has started 61 consecutive games entering senior season...Has recorded more turnovers than assists just nine times in 94 career starts...Enters senior season ranking fourth all-time in team history in assists and second in assists per game.

Just like Fran said about Dickerson, Moore was an excellent distributor and scorer. Oh yeah, and he was lightning quick, too. Let's take a look at his college highlight tape, shall we?

Moore's game was pretty damn versatile. Highlight tapes only show the best of the best, of course, but from his tape, it looks like Moore could not only run the break and get to the basket, but he could pull up and knock down a three pointer or a mid-range jumper if needed. As a passer... well, skip ahead to 4:10, and look at that bounce pass he delivers. BEAUTIFUL. And, finally, you can see that Moore clearly had a knack for getting in the passing lane and forcing turnovers on a pretty frequent basis. Over his four years in Loudonville, Moore finished first in Siena's record books in assists, third in steals, and played the second most minutes of anyone in school history. As for style of play, if you are looking for a recent Iowa comparison, he was similar in style to Bryce Cartwrightminus the turnovers, and he could actually shoot from three and was a better defender.

Again, that's where Trey Dickerson comes in. Let's look at his tape and compare.

Pretty similar, right? The main difference between the two tapes, are that Dickerson's was all about scoring with some nice alley-oops and dishes tossed in, while Moore's was more evenly balanced between scoring and passing. Of course, Dickerson was on a team that relied on him to do the bulk of the scoring last year, as he averaged 19.8 points per game at Williston State. He won't be counted on to be the main scorer at Iowa, just like Moore wasn't at Siena, and, despite all the scoring (which isn't a bad thing), we have every reason to believe that Dickerson can pass the ball: He had some nice assists in the tape above, Fran has been absolutely glowing about his ability as a distributor, and he averaged 5.7 assists per game and 7.3 assists per 40 minutes. I mean, dude can score and he can dish. And holy crap, is he fast. At the 1:20 mark, watch him speed down the court and split two defenders on his way to making a contested layup and drawing the foul. Now look at all those three pointers, just like we saw in Moore's highlight tape. In fact, Dickerson took 35.2% of his shots from downtown last year, which is similar to Moore, who took 34.9% of his shots from beyond the arc during his four years at Siena. If that wasn't enough, at the 1:55 mark, we see Dickerson playing the passing lane, coming away with the steal, and turning it into an easy layup, similar to the aggressive defense that we observed in Moore's video above. And, for the cherry on top, Dickerson throws alley-oops... Yeah, I think he's going to fit in on this team just fine.

As it stands right now, the point guard situation for Iowa is tough to get a read on. We are still a little over a month away from the beginning of the season, and we don't get to see what goes on in practice. My guess is that Mike Gesell starts at point guard, at least initially. Trey Dickerson has a puncher's chance at the starting point guard position, but Gesell has the experience and he can do most of what Fran wants out of the point guard position. I do think that Dickerson is the eventual starting point guard for this team, I'm just not sure if that happens in November, February, or next year. I think Gesell is versatile enough to play the two-guard position at a high level, and Anthony Clemmons' possible resurgence could make it easier to keep Gesell at the two spot more often, while Sapp holds down the fort as the backup point guard.

As for Trey Dickerson, he comes to Iowa City with a lot of hype attached to him. At the same time, though, it definitely looks like it's warranted. You can't teach speed, and he most definitely has it. Throw in his ability to find the open man, knock down shots, and jump the passing lane on defense, and you have quite the special talent. Unlike Ferentz, Fran may not come right out and say it, but it looks like he's finally found himself another Ronald Moore.