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  • Writer's pictureJoey Jarzynka

Iowa's HC Fran McCaffery's Weekly Press Conference 11/20/19


Q. Three games in, how is Jordan's health? Is it getting better or how would you assess his progress? FRAN McCAFFERY: I think he's getting a little better. I thought he was good the other night. He's been good at practice. Getting closer to being himself.

Q. At the least you play him the games he can play -- FRAN McCAFFERY: He's going to keep playing for a while and then we'll see how he feels.

Q. What are the priorities going up against North Florida? They hit 21 threes last game. FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah, very good team, veteran club, four senior starters. Probably the top team in that league preseason. Really good point guard. They've got multiple shooters. They made 21 but they shot 47. That's a big number. So they're going to shoot a lot of threes. Mixed defense, as well, compete. Matt has been there a while, and we played them a few years ago, very good game here with them. We know the quality of team that we're playing.

Q. How are you feeling about your team's shot selection through the first three games? FRAN McCAFFERY: Pretty good. It wasn't great coming down the stretch the other night. We took a couple shots early in the clock that weren't necessary as you get under two minutes, but I don't see a lot of guys forcing shots, shooting contested shots. That's when it really becomes a problem. If we're missing, we're missing open shots and we're creating open shots for other people. So I think any time you're a coach and your team is taking open shots, that's what you encourage them to do. You encourage them to move the ball and mix up post feeds, drives, threes, and share it to where teams can't really focus on one or two guys.

Q. How would you assess your defense so far? FRAN McCAFFERY: It wasn't good against DePaul. It was much better against Oral Roberts. They were a very quick team. But they're also a team that was averaging 32 threes a game. They had shot 35 the previous game. So we're going to push up on those guys and might give up a little penetration so that they shoot contested twos rather than open threes.

Q. How is Patrick's attitude? FRAN McCAFFERY: He's been really good. We're continuing to work through it, trying to help him manage what his body is going through, what it's been going through. It's a huge adjustment, as we all know. But his attitude, to answer your question, has been very good.

Q. Has he been practicing? FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah.

Q. Will he play tomorrow? FRAN McCAFFERY: We'll see how he's doing, but I don't think so.

Q. Do you have to slow him down at all or is his body doing that for him? FRAN McCAFFERY: It's very unique to say the least. Not having gone through this, there's not many test cases of it. But when you go through what his body went through -- you talk about his weight, you talk about his energy level, you talk about his sleeping, his eating, his digestive system, it's completely different than what anybody else goes through, and it takes a huge toll when you are going against the athletes the caliber of the guys he's going against right now. So it's been a huge adjustment for him physically and obviously mentally, as well, as a result of that.

He's doing the best he can, and we're working with our medical staff and our nutrition folks to try to help him.

Q. What can you guys do to get Wieskamp going a little bit more? FRAN McCAFFERY: I think that'll happen without too much difficulty. He's got the green light. He's never been a guy that hunts shots. We want him to shoot as many times as he wants, but he's going to shoot when he's open. Teams are covering him closely, as you can imagine. But he's a guy that gives it up easy. If somebody is open, he feeds the post. If somebody is open on a one-dribble kick, he does that. I'm okay with him shooting 15 or 20 shots if he wants to, and we'll keep going to him when we do.

But you see sometimes we go to Luka, sometimes we go to Jack, sometimes we go to Joe, J-Bo when he's in there, CJ, we run some stuff for him, and we've got some guys coming off the bench we could run stuff for. He's just part of what we're doing, and that's one of the things that's really special about him.

Q. Is he almost too unselfish at times do? FRAN McCAFFERY: No, because I think it's who he is. I think if you try to force it, it doesn't come naturally, then it's probably not as effective as he would be otherwise. He's a complete player, and I think he's always viewed himself that way, always performed at that level, with that expectation of himself, and I think that's why he is who he is. He's special in that regard.

Q. How would you assess Connor's growth? I know the season is just starting, but it seems like he's finding a new confidence that maybe he lacked at times last season. FRAN McCAFFERY: The thing about him, he's always going to be in control of what we want done, and he's always going to recognize the talent around him and distribute the ball accordingly. He's going to try to look for his guys. His defense has been good. He sticks his nose on the glass and rebounds, which you want. He's always been able to score. He scored last year at times, and at times he didn't score, and to be honest with you, it wasn't that big a deal. We had plenty of other guys who could score last year.

So you want him to be a guy that's consistently going to be a threat, to not only hit a three or hit a drive but also get to the free-throw line, and that enables him to have the space he needs to create for others.

He's only in his second year playing, but he's in his third year, so he knows exactly what we want done.

Q. How many positions are you comfortable with him defending with his size? FRAN McCAFFERY: Four for sure. When he was in high school, Bergie used him to guard sometimes the other team's 5 man. A lot of 5's he can guard. Some would be a little bit harder. A guy like Kaleb Wesson is going to be hard for him, but there's 5's he can guard. So that may give us the ability to switch, teams that are running a lot of ball screen stuff, for example.

Q. How important was the last game for Jack? FRAN McCAFFERY: I think it was very important because he knows he's playing well, and then he didn't play as well in the first two games. He knows it. He's a good kid. He's conscientious. You guys ask him questions, it's not like he has anything he can point to, certainly in the DePaul game, I only played him 10 minutes. Kriener came in and played so well, so it wasn't really his fault. But just convincing him to continue to trust his talent and go do what he's capable of doing. He's really skilled and he's long and he's physical, and as long as he's doing that, he's going to be productive.

Q. Anything that Joe Toussaint can learn from the other night? FRAN McCAFFERY: It was hard for him because he got two quick ones. He's going to be active defensively, and you never want to take that away from him because he makes steals, it's nothing that anybody has schemed. It's something he saw and he just went and did, and you want him to be that guy. He got two quick ones, so he didn't play the rest of the half, and then we had the one unit that was clicking. We got up 22, and we went to the bench, and we got a little sideways, and we went back to the starters, and that kind of thing happens.

I think he's mature enough to understand that, and he'll have opportunities to play a lot moving forward.

Q. Do the freshmen have to learn that balance of being aggressive but having controlled aggression? FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah, because he's a guy that's always been able to just go make a play. When I first put him in he went down and just raised up and shot one and made it. He did the same thing in the second half. Well, in that situation it really wasn't what we needed, especially because he missed it. But you also don't want him to be questioning his ability to go do what he does because that limits really what makes him special. We'll continue to encourage him to be who he is, but maybe not coming down the stretch when the other team is on a run.

Q. Could you see him and Connor playing a lot together, given Connor's versatility and size? FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah, they really have worked well together, and the same would be true for Bakari. Bakari is really a good player, and I don't know that we've seen as much of it yet. We will, but all of those guys, they make plays for each other. They're all incredibly unselfish. They find people. We have flexibility there. Connor can play, like you said, a bunch of spots. Bakari plays more than one spot. Joe is pretty much going to play point guard but you can play point guard with him because he can score. He's proven that, and so can Connor and so can CJ and so can Bakari. And we know what Bohannon can do.

Q. What do you want to see tomorrow night that maybe you haven't seen? FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, I think we're going to have to consistently defend. This team is really gifted offensively. They're capable of putting up a lot of points. Not a big mistake group. They run good stuff. They move the ball, share the ball. They defend. They compete. They have an expectation of what the season is going to be like for them. So we have to be able to perform on a consistent level defensively and execute our stuff offensively while understanding time and score and playing the kind of game that you need to play to beat a really good team.

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