Hawkeyes Moving in Right Direction

Oct. 28, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

CHICAGO — University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery thinks the Hawkeyes will be a better team in 2011-12. He’s not the only one.

“I think they’re going to be much improved,” said Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith at the Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Thursday in Chicago. “They’ll be an outstanding team. I think the freshman they had… (Melsahn) Basabe… oh yeah… I was really impressed with him. The Hawkeyes, with Bryce Cartwright and Matt Gatens, they’re going to be pretty talented.”

During his freshman season, Basabe averaged 11 points and 6.8 assists en route to being named to the Big Ten all-Freshman team. He was the first Hawkeye freshman in school history to amass over 340 points, 200 rebounds and 40 blocks.

Thad Matta, the head coach for preseason Big Ten favorite Ohio State, thinks McCaffery has Iowa moving forward.

“I think things are going in the right direction,” said Matta. “I thought they had a good core of young players that really meshed well with what was left over. They have a lot of guys back, and they’ve added some pretty good players to it.”

McCaffery has three scholarship freshmen on the 2011-12 roster in Josh Oglesby, Aaron White and Gabriel Olaseni. Oglesby was a 3-point specialist out of Cedar Rapids Washington High School, White was the MVP of the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star game, and Olaseni was an NACA All-American.

Plain and simple, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan says “they’re going to be good.”

“They’re going to be good because Fran is such a competitor and has a great mind for the game,” said Ryan. “He’s right where he needs to be, and he’s doing a great job there.”

McCaffery and the Hawkeyes caught the eye of Purdue head coach Matt Painter last March when Iowa stunned the sixth-ranked Boilermakers, 67-65, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I think at the end of the year, those guys beating us, you saw them going in the right direction because they continued to play hard,” said Painter. “They got 10th last year, and in my first year we got 11th. We continued to fight, so I felt good about it. You have to have a start.

“What were they playing for? They were playing for their pride and to continue to get better. They’re going to be a force. He’s done a great job at every one of his stops, and I think he’ll be great at Iowa.”

Pat Chambers, the first-year head coach at Penn State, is looking forward to competing against a fellow Philadephian.

“I have so much respect for Fran in what he does and how he goes about his business,” said Chambers, who formerly was head coach at Boston University. “It’s going to be fun to play against him.”


Tom Izzo, Michigan State head coach
“I think Fran has been a great addition. He’s a very good coach and a fiery guy with a different personality. He led the conference in technical fouls last year, which kind of makes me jealous. He’s brought some energy to that place, and I think the crowds are coming back now. His style is good, and I think it’s going to help him in recruiting.”

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin head coach
“He grew up in a hot bed around the time he was little, and the influences of Jack Ramsey, Jack McKinney, Jim Lynam and all the guys in the Big 5. His knowledge of the game is good and his competitive drive is as good as anybody’s.”

Pat Chambers, Penn State head coach
“Sometimes year two can be harder than year one because now there are a little greater expectations. He (McCaffery) is up for the task.”