McCaffery, Cole Meet the Media in Chicago

Oct. 28, 2010

Big Ten Basketball Media Day | J. Cole Big Ten Media Day

For more coverage of today’s basketball media day in Chicago, be sure to check out the official men’s basketball facebook page.

CHICAGO – – The Big Ten Conference hosted its annual basketball Media Day Thursday morning at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare. All 11 institutions, except for Penn State who was unable to make it due to travel problems caused by inclement weather, were represented at the event. The men’s and women’s coaches, along with student-athletes from each school, entertained the media for four hours.

Representing the University of Iowa men’s squad for the first time was Head Coach Fran McCaffery. He was joined by senior co-captain Jarryd Cole.

The Hawkeyes have a young team and are trying to adapt to new surroundings. This will be a challenge in such a strong league, top-to-bottom.

“I have always had tremendous respect for this league,” said McCaffery. “If you look now, having arguably three of the top five teams, five of the top 18, and seven projected teams to make the NCAA Tournament, very few leagues have that kind of depth and that many teams with a legitimate chance to go to the Final Four.”

Minnesota Head Coach Tubby Smith also noted the strength of the Big Ten.

“As coaches and players you want to compete against the best,” said Smith. “Certainly, we are competing against the best in the Big Ten. The Big Ten has brilliant coaches and outstanding players that are respected around the country and that represent their institutions the right way. We have veteran coaches that have been in the business a long time, so you know you are not going to trick anybody. We have so many good players returning, and I think that is why we are the best conference in the country.”

Michigan State, coming off its second straight NCAA Final Four appearance, was named league favorite by the media. Ohio State and Purdue were tabbed for second and third, respectively. The Spartans standout senior guard, Kalin Lucas, was named Preseason Player of the Year.

Despite the strength and depth of the conference, Coach McCaffery likes his squad and the way in which they have been competing thus far.

“I really like my team,” said McCaffery. “The core group of young players we have, have responded well to the changes that we are trying to make. We have a great group of young freshmen. We have a solid group of about nine, maybe 10 players.” Smith took over at Minnesota in 2007 and understands what it takes to turn a program in the right direction.

“The team will have a renewed spirit,” said the Gopher head coach. “The players will be reenergized when they see a different style, something new. When I went into Minnesota we had a plus ten turnaround from the previous season. I can see the same thing happening at Iowa because Fran has won championships before and he is a real professional.”

Cole, a key member of the core group Coach McCaffery mentioned, has started 47 career games. The senior enjoyed his time at the event.

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“Last night we came in and went to dinner with all the athletes,” said Cole. “It is really cool to sit down in that kind of atmosphere because once the season starts we are really not going to be friends. It will be a battle from then on out. It is really cool to get to know some of the other athletes.”

Cole has also been enjoying the atmosphere at practice. He has been having more fun and knows the Hawkeye fans will enjoy the upcoming season as well.

“Practices have been going really well,” said Cole, the Kansas City, Mo. native. “The freshmen are picking the system up very well. The returning guys are hungry and are ready to try something new. I think the up-and-down style is going to be good for us. The up-and-down style and the full court defense are going to be very interesting, very entertaining and very fun. That is what basketball should be. The fans are really going to like it and we are going to like it.”

Cole is eager to begin live game action.

“The seventh of November cannot come fast enough,” added Cole.

Cole and the Hawkeyes open the season Nov. 7 with an exhibition against Illinois-Springfield. The game is scheduled to begin at 3:35 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Black and Gold open the regular Nov. 14 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, hosting South Dakota State. The contest is scheduled to begin at 2:05 p.m.