Part Two: 100 Days and Counting

July 8, 2010

Editor’s Note: July 6 marked the 100th day on the job for Fran McCaffery. visited recently with the University of Iowa’s new head men’s basketball coach and talked about the whirlwind that was those first three-plus months of work as a Hawkeye.

IOWA CITY, Iowa —The remainder of the McCaffery clan – Fran’s wife Margaret, sons Connor, Patrick and Jonathan, and daughter Marit, moved into their Coralville home June 22.

“They really like what they’ve seen,” McCaffery said. “They saw the campus and met the people and they were really impressed. They loved the great arena and football stadium; it’s a nice town and the people have been nice them.”

“The People” around the Iowa City/Coralville area are just a sample of the impressive Hawkeye fan base that McCaffery met while making seven stops on the I-Club circuit this summer. It also gave him an opportunity to meet other UI staff members.

“I was all over the state. I did seven (I-Club events); I’ll do nine next year, maybe 10,” McCaffery said. “All the I-Clubs are different — some are golf outings and some are just dinners, but the Hawkeye passion is all the same no matter where you go, whether it’s Davenport, Dubuque or Okoboji. You get to meet people from all over the state, whether it be from one of the bigger cities or one of the rural communities — they love the Hawks and they support you.”

On Thursday, May 6, McCaffery made his initial I-Club appearance in Burlington. He addressed the crowd after UI defensive coordinator Norm Parker and head wrestling coach Tom Brands.

“I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to coach my team. I want to get this group of young men together, put in my system, and get to work. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Fran McCaffery

“That was a really interesting one. That was the first time I met Norm Parker and Tom Brands and those two guys are hilarious,” McCaffery said with a chuckle. “I had to follow them and that was interesting to say the least. That’s when I realized the I-Club was going to be fun. We had a lot of fun.”

McCaffery had heard about the enthusiastic Hawkeye fans when he was hired, but even then he was caught off guard at times by the “phenomenally welcoming people.”

“They seemed really concerned about me and what I was going through,” McCaffery said. “Usually we jump right to the professional side, we don’t look at the personal side, but they all did, and I appreciate that.”

Another pressing task for McCaffery was figuring out what he had for a 2010-11 roster…and filling whatever holes existed.

“When you start looking for players in April and May, it’s not easy,” McCaffery said.

“You’re looking for specific things that might not be available. We needed size, so we were fortunate to get Melsahn Basabe and we needed another point guard. We took our time and we spent a lot of our time on the recruiting trail looking at sophomores and juniors. We needed to get a few pieces to blend with what we had and then move on to the next two classes to make sure we’re not behind. I think we’re in good shape with the next two classes.”

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The grind of the first 100 days on the job is now in McCaffery’s rearview mirror. Today he is fixated on the future.

“I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to coach my team,” he said. “I want to get this group of young men together, put in my system, and get to work. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”