March 29, 2010
- Coach McCaffery Press Conference Photo Gallery
- Coach McCaffery Pep Rally
- Watch: McCaffery Press Conference
- What they’re saying about Fran McCaffery
- Watch: McCaffery Discusses Iowa
- Watch: McCaffery on BTN
- Register for ticket information online
IOWA CITY, Iowa — There were other offers from basketball powers closer to home, but in the end, the decision came down to this: Fran McCaffery wanted to coach at the University of Iowa.
On Monday, McCaffery was introduced as the 22nd head coach in the storied history of the Hawkeye men’s basketball program. The overflow crowd in the Press Room/Big Ten Room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena included UI President Sally Mason, director of athletics Gary Barta and several former Hawkeye greats.
“I made it clear from minute one that I wanted to be your coach,” McCaffery said. “When Iowa presented as an option, I was ecstatic.”
McCaffery has won 251 games in 14 seasons (an average of nearly 18 wins per year) and has taken three different programs to the NCAA tournament: Lehigh (1988), North Carolina-Greensboro (2001) and Siena (2008-10). The last two seasons, Siena compiled a record of 54-15.
“I’m leaving a place I love and that is not done without a lot of trepidation at some point,” McCaffery said. “As I went through the process and prioritized what I thought was best for my family and what I thought had the most potential and opportunity for growth and something that got me excited, it was Iowa. We just kept coming back to Iowa.”
Seton Hall and St. John’s were among the programs also expressing interest in McCaffery last week.
“In the first meeting, the first thing he said right out of the gate is, `I want to be the coach at Iowa,'” Barta said. “As the interview went along, I could see how serious he was about that particular thing.”
McCaffery said that one of his first orders of business after the press conference will be to “re-recruit” the current Hawkeye players.
“I have familiarity with them,” McCaffery said. “I’ve watched them play some, both in high school and on television. I think we have a great nucleus of young talent. It’s my responsibility to then reach out to those who have signed (national letters of intent) with us to see that they will honor their commitments so we can fill our roster.”
McCaffery gets excited when talking about his style of play. He said the Hawkeyes will push the ball, run, press and change defenses.
“I’m going to coach with passion, but our players are going to have fun. They’re going to enjoy what they do on the floor and this place is going to be rocking again. I think we all know, to really energize the fan base, you’ve got to play the game the right way, and we’re going to do that.”
UI head coach
“We’re going to disrupt rhythm and I think that’s how you have to play,” he said. “Some coaches lock into one defense, they play half-court basketball and they run set plays. You will not have a better-prepared basketball team take the floor in terms of tape review, scouting reports, what we show the team. We will be ready.”
McCaffery said that Jerry Strom will remain on as UI director of men’s basketball operations for a 30th season in 2010-11. As far as completing his coaching staff, McCaffery said he will give “strong consideration” to those who served as his assistants at Siena.
“They know how to work, they know how to recruit,” McCaffery said. “They’re talented.”
McCaffery is also considering an “Iowa presence” on the staff, possibly a former Hawkeye player.
“That will be determined over the next few days,” McCaffery said.
McCaffery has coached two teams in Carver-Hawkeye Arena: Lehigh in 1986 and North Carolina-Greensboro in 2005. He knows what it’s like to have 15,500 fans behind the Hawkeyes and it won’t be long until he’s on the receiving end of those cheers.
“I’m going to coach with passion, but our players are going to have fun,” McCaffery said. “They’re going to enjoy what they do on the floor and this place is going to be rocking again. I think we all know, to really energize the fan base, you’ve got to play the game the right way, and we’re going to do that.”
The news of the hiring was also welcomed by many Hawkeye alumni, including Ryan Bowen, who scored 1,090 points from 1995-98.
“I’m very excited,” Bowen said. “He had some great things to say and I look forward to seeing what he can do with the program. It’s all about the current players, it’s not about us. Let them enjoy their experience.”
In a prepared statement, President Mason had this to say:
“I’m very pleased with the addition of Fran McCaffery to the Hawkeye athletics family. He brings a proven track record of consistency and championship-level achievement to our men’s basketball program, and I look forward to his leadership helping to energize our fan base and restore excitement to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. I’d like to thank Gary Barta and the search committee for their efforts in bringing to Iowa City not only a fine coach, but someone I believe will be a phenomenal ambassador for The University of Iowa statewide and around the nation.”