Former Hawkeyes All Smiles at Coach McCaffery Press Conference

April 1, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free. To receive the UI’s OSR or to learn more, click HERE.

IOWA CITY, IA — There wasn’t a seat to be had in the Big Ten/Iowa Room on the third floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena Monday morning when Fran McCaffery was introduced as the University of Iowa’s 22nd head men’s basketball coach. The room was crammed with media, staff and former Hawkeye players.

A line of former Hawkeyes stood along the near wall watching and listening to McCaffery speak about the future and direction of Hawkeye basketball. Smiles from ear-to-ear could be seen on each of their faces when McCaffery was asked about connecting with the former Hawkeye greats.

“It’s something that would be one of the first orders of business for me,” said McCaffery. “I want them involved. I will reach out to them. I want them coming back. I want them at games. I want them calling me on the phone, `Hey, I heard about a player you might be interested in.’ It’s that kind of relationship to me that makes a program special, and that’s what we’re going to build here.

Former NBA Champion Bobby Hansen, who played on Iowa’s 1980 Final Four team, and currently serves as Iowa’s color analyst for the Hawkeye Radio Network, spoke about the importance of re-establishing the past with the present.

“I’m around here all the time, but the other players need to make an effort to come over here. Like everyone else, for whatever reason, they felt they were kept at arm’s length. We have to make an effort to get over here for all the events, the golf outings and all that stuff. We have a lot of fun. There are a lot of generations of Iowa basketball. It’s big. It’s bigger than any one person or group of people. It always has been one big family. It seems that Fran has opened up his arms to getting people back here.”

Ryan Bowen, who was a two-time all-Big Ten performer at Iowa and former NBA player agreed with Hansen’s assessment.

“I think it’s so important,” said Bowen. We spent our four years here and gave a lot to the program. A lot of us grew up in Iowa and still live in Iowa, so I think it’s important to have us. We just want to help the current players and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about us, it’s about letting these current players enjoy their time here at the University of Iowa.”

Kenyon Murray, who played on three 20-plus win seasons between 1993-96, was recruited by McCaffery while he was an assistant at Notre Dame in the 1990s. He can attest to his recruiting abilities.

“Fran was always there,” said Murray. “He was at AAU events and camps I went to, like Nike. He’s a tireless worker. He and my high school coach actually have a pretty good relationship, so he remembers a lot of good things about Fran. He always did things the right way, but he was always there. That’s the thing with Iowa right now, you have to have a presence and you have to have your name out there. Even if we’re fifth or sixth on someone’s list, at least we’re there. That gives us the opportunity to get a recruit here.”

One of the topics McCaffery touched on during the press conference was his preference for style of play.

“We’re going to push the ball. We’re going to run. We’re going to press. We’re going to change defenses. We’re going to disrupt rhythm, and I think that’s how you have to play. Some coaches, they lock into one defense, they play half court basketball, and they run set plays. Well, we’re going to run set plays. We’re going to run motion. We’re going to run ball screen action, and I believe in doing a variety of different things. You will not have a better prepared basketball team take the floor in terms of tape review, scouting reports, what we show the team, what we show what we look at ourselves. We will be ready.”

Jess Settles, who was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1994 and first team all-conference for the Hawkeyes in 1996, likes McCaffery’s style. Settles played under Tom Davis, who pressed and had an up-tempo style of basketball.

“It’d be nice to get a little press going here in the Big Ten,” said Settles. “It sounds like he’s pretty flexible and able to build around the talent he has. That’s good. You need to be able to these days. The 3-point line has changed the game and you need to be able to speed it up and slow it down to run the shot clock down. It sounds like he can do all that and it’s great.

“We pressed forty minutes most nights, so I can relate to that and it is fun. I think, ultimately, he understands the Big Ten. You need toughness. You need to get some guys in here that can play injured and battle, fight and claw because it’s such a blue-collar league. It takes some warriors and he knows that.”

With the already strong support from just a few of Iowa’s former greats, Hawkeye fans should be excited for what is on the horizon!