FRAN McCAFFERY: Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here. Especially in person. I think everybody is thinking that. It’s great to be back.
This is going to be a really new experience for all of us. When you graduate the National Player of the Year, have two guys going to the NBA, and a team of really talented young players, all of whom are now going to be in a new role. I think that’s an exciting challenge for any coach.
Kind of we all knew the last couple years what we were going to try to accomplish, who was playing, who was going to get the bulk of the minutes, who was going to take most of the shots. Now we have a different team. It’s a little bit smaller, but we do have length and athleticism. I think we have great depth. We do have two older guys that we’re going to rely on for leadership, and that’s Connor McCaffery and Jordan Bohannon, both of whom are here. After that we have a lot of youth. I think we have great character, great chemistry. It’s going to be a fun ride in that sense.
Q. Murray is a sophomore. Guys often take a huge jump between their freshman and sophomore year. What have you seen from him?
FRAN McCAFFERY: The think about Keegan is he’s amazingly consistent. What I saw from him this summer and this fall is exactly that. He drives it, he shoots it, he moves it, he can handle, he rebounds, blocks shots. He plays the game with a tremendous amount of intensity, but more importantly an understanding of how to play.
He was a guard most of his life, now he’s playing kind of the front court position. He can guard a five, he can guard pretty much any position one through five. I think what I’ve tried to do is encourage him to be great.
Last year he was really successful. We all saw that. He was an integral part of a very successful team. Now he has to take that next step to being a star, which we all want for him.
He kind of doesn’t view himself that way. He’s very humble. But he knows he has that ability, and I consistently encourage him to be the best player on the floor every day.
Q. You had Luka for so long, dominated the ball so much. Even though he was surrounded by a lot of good players, when you go into a new year without him, will we see new things, fresh things? Has it been a summer of thinking up new ideas?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Probably as much defensively as offensively, you’re right. I mean, he was so consistently dominant offensively, it gave you so much confidence as a program, as a coach, players on the floor coming down the stretch. We could always run something for him. He’s going to get a bucket, he’s going to make the right decision.
But we’ve always been kind of a motion team anyway. He kind of got that naturally. We moved it, we moved it. We did run some sets. We’ll consistently run motion again. We have a lot of players that can triple pass and shoot. We ran a five out. Sometimes you would run a five out with him, four out, one in kind of.
I think from that standpoint it will be a dramatic change not having him. But he was so gifted at understanding whatever we were doing. That’s what made him a great leader. If we were running sets, motion, if we were in transition, if we were playing against a zone, if they were pressing, running a side out of bounds play under the basket, he was so incredibly cerebral. You take that for granted after a while. When you have him for four years, it makes coaching easier.
Who is going to step into that role? We don’t have anyone 6’11” that’s going to average 20 points a game. Where are the rest of the points going to come from? Will it be Keegan Murray? We just talked about him. Will it be Patrick McCaffery? Will it be Bohannon moving over to off guard position, we have young guards coming in at the point. What big guys will step up for us? Will it be Keegan’s brother Kris, who is a tremendous player? I think he’s got a chance. Filip Rebraca, the transfer from North Dakota. Maybe our young guys, Josh Ogundele or Riley Mulvey.
We may play smaller, but I think we’ve had as much depth as we’ve had in a long time. So we’ll see how that works out.
Q. You talked about Kris Murray. You’ve talked about him all summer. Can you see that continued development in his game now into full practice?
FRAN McCAFFERY: The thing about Kris, he just has to develop his confidence. He’s really talented. You look at him, he looks exactly like his brother. You sort of expect him to be exactly like his brother. They’ve always played a little bit differently. But they’ve always both been very good. They both can dribble, pass and shot. Both rebound and block shots.
Kris I think is a very good three-point shooter. They can play together. Like I said, we can be versatile in terms of the offense we run, but also how we play defensively. We can switch. We can switch with guards, because those two can guard backcourt players, which is not easy in this league. They’re both 6’8″, both have 6’11” wingspans. It will be fun watching them both play together this year.
Q. Jordan Bohannon is about to become the Big Ten best three-point shooter. What is it like to see him grow and excel in that role, watching with someone with that kind of talent every day in practice?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I’ll tell you what, it’s funny you bring that up. Yesterday he was absolutely on fire in practice. He must have made 10 or 11 threes. That’s obviously fun to watch, especially when you lose Garza.
For him, pretty much from the minute he got there, he had a very mature game. He started for us about the fifth or sixth game into the season and has been starting ever since. He’s always played the point. He may play some there. We’ve kind of moved him to the off guard position. He’s running around in that position shooting threes and moving without the ball, which he’s also been very good at.
But it’s really hard to be that consistent in this league. When you get somebody like that, it’s really special. To go on the floor knowing that you have a guy, in his freshman year he made eight threes on the road in Maryland, that’s rare. That says a lot about his character, his mental toughness. He has a swag about him that this team is going to need. We’re very fortunate that he decided to come back.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports