Fran McCaffery Letter to Hawkeye Fans

March 26, 2012

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.

Dear Hawkeye fans,

On behalf of our players, coaching staff and staff, I would like to thank you for your support of Iowa Hawkeye basketball this season.

I’ve said all along that Hawkeye fans are some of the best fans in the country. For the second consecutive year our attendance increased, but more importantly the crowds were boisterous and intimidating for opponents. The Hawks Nest and Hawkeye faithful are knowledgeable and passionate about their Hawkeye basketball, and your enthusiasm and energy made Carver-Hawkeye Arena an electric atmosphere — especially at our last home game against Dayton!

Thanks to your support, you played a factor in us winning six of our last eight games, including posting wins over 13th-ranked Michigan, No. 18 Indiana, 15th-ranked Wisconsin and the first-round NIT game against Dayton. Over 13,000 Hawkeye fans bought tickets on one-days-notice for our NIT game, which was the highest attended NIT game of 2012.

I couldn’t be more proud of our guys’ effort this season; they brought it every day. It was great to see the team’s efforts rewarded with a postseason invitation to the NIT. After a slow start, it was encouraging to see how they responded and finished the season.

Our four victories over ranked opponents, the events surrounding the 1987 Iowa team reunion weekend, posting our first postseason win since 2003, having the pleasure to coach one of the greatest Hawkeyes of all-time in Matt Gatens, seeing the growth and development of our underclassmen and hearing the roar back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena are highlights I will remember from this past season.

Having a good team starts with senior leadership, and we had some tremendous seniors. Co-captains Matt Gatens and Bryce Cartwright really helped mold this team and instill their work ethic and determination onto their teammates. Our younger guys (Aaron White, Roy Devyn Marble, Zach McCabe, Gabe Olaseni, Josh Oglesby and Melsahn Basabe) learned so much from all of our experienced players.

We are going to miss our seniors, especially Matt Gatens. Matt is one of the best captains I have ever coached and that’s an amazing statement coming from me, because I’ve had some good ones. Matt really took his game to another level the last six weeks of the season and helped guide this team to its first postseason action in six years. Being only the second Hawkeye to ever amass over 1,600 points, 450 rebounds, 250 assists and 125 steals says a lot. But Matt is more than a phenomenal basketball player; he is a humble person with tremendous character. I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to coach Matt and look forward to watching him continue his playing career on the professional level.

Recording seven more wins than the previous season and having some postseason success is another positive step this program has taken. We’re excited to head into the offseason knowing we have a phenomenal nucleus returning. We return 69 percent of our scoring and 78 percent of our rebounding, while also adding a solid recruiting class that will complement the guys we have returning.

Now that the season is over we turn our attention to offseason training, which will begin next month.

We look forward to generating more memorable Hawkeye basketball moments in the years ahead. We thank you again for your continued support and passion for our program and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Fran McCaffery