Dec. 22, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa head basketball coach Fran McCaffery fielded questions from the media after the Hawkeyes defeated Coppin State, 80-50, on Saturday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Q. Coach, 0-17 from three, but over 50% for the game?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, you know, 20 turnovers, 0-17. You don't expect to win by 30. But I thought our defensive effort and concentration early set the tone. We really got after them with our press. We did some stuff aggressively at half court.
We did a good job of attacking the zone. They mixed defense. They played man; they played zone; they pressed. Fang does a good job of that.
But I thought we shared the ball, 21 assists. Different kind of team to prepare for the way they play, small and quick, and we handled it.
Q. Eric had a nice dunk. It's kind of nice to see him smile on the floor again, isn't it?
COACH McCAFFERY: He's been that way from the beginning. He's been a terrific captain. Our work ethic and preparation, you know, you go back it's been a long journey since August summer for that matter. We started practicing with this team which was legal for the first time.
So the young guys are going to tend to watch and see how the older guys do it. So I'm proud of him. He's having fun, he's playing with a great deal of confidence. He is playing mistake free basketball and giving us energy level, and giving us someone who can play more than two or three fours and playing all three of those positions. He's a guy that you feel like he has to be on the floor when the game is really in the balance. I'm happy for him.
Q. The ankle, is it just precautionary for Melsahn?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, he told me it was his third time doing it. I only remember two, but he's a pretty tough kid. He probably played through the first one, didn't say anything. Went down in practice, shut him down for a couple of days. Didn't think he could play against UNI.
He got up Saturday morning, and said I'm ready to go. I didn't think he could do it in that game. We made the decision at halftime to ice him down and not play him anymore and get him ready for Indiana.
Q. Coach, I know it is what it is schedulewise. Do you wish you had a couple of tougher opponents going into Indiana and not the big break?
COACH McCAFFERY: No, we scheduled these exactly the way I wanted to.
Q. Did you think Mike got back on track?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, what was good for him is he was really good in the press. That kind of gets him going sometimes. I know he'll make the steal. Gets an easy one, the dunk, just really gets him going. The other thing was he was locked in Murray is one of the leaders in the country in double doubles. That's what we matched up with. Doing a good job on him.
Do you like that you were able to work stuff today and have some fun doing it?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I like the fact that we're getting some of that stuff down. I don't particularly want to be dunking the ball when we're up by 28 with less than a minute to go. That's not my style.
With that said, we have Chris Rickert in the game. He works extremely hard. He's got to go out there and make a play, he gets a chance to play all the time. The best alley oop pass we've had all season was thrown by Chris. Good for him. Good for Gabe. The crowd loved it. But I would have preferred that we not make that play in that situation.
Q. Is your team ready for the likes of Indiana now?
COACH McCAFFERY: We'll find out pretty quick. I think we are. We have some work to do between now and then. But we have great character, great camaraderie on the team, and our guys will be ready.
Q. A lot of dimensions, too?
COACH McCAFFERY: Lot of dimensions. Lot of ways we can go. That will continue to change game by game.
Q. Conference season getting ready to start up. Basically, are you just focusing on basketball? Any particular areas that you want to see improved?
COACH McCAFFERY: I don't think that there's one area that we've got to get this cleared up. We have clearly gotten better defensively. We've got to continue to work on that. Our offensive execution is pretty good. Could be better. But we're going to have to run some more sets as we get into league play than we have maybe that would be an area.
But our motion game is pretty good. Our transition game is pretty good. That improved dramatically in the last ten days. So a little bit of everything, I think.
Q. Did your team progress the way you wanted it to throughout the course of the non conference?
COACH McCAFFERY: It has. We've put a lot of challenges in front of us. We've had six games in nine days. We had a trip to Mexico. A lot of schools played rivalry games. We've played two of them in a week. You get up and you have to do it again. Nobody else does that. We had to do it three times, and that is a challenge to the team. We've got the ACC Big Ten Challenge in there.
So we've had some home games. We can have some mistakes, play through them, develop these young kids, and get ready for what's coming.
Q. So with Josh back?
COACH McCAFFERY: His shot was a little off. We worked him out yesterday. He did not practice. He worked out. We wanted to see in he was able to move the way he was able to move. And his shot was just a little bit off.
Q. And the pass?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, he makes good decisions. I was on him. There was one time I thought he should have shot it, and he threw it terrific from the wing, sort of an alley oop pass across to the inside part of the zone. Terrific play by him.
I say that about him all the time. We keep waiting for him to shoot, go ahead and shoot. But he's got great vision, and he's a much better defender than people give him credit for.
Q. Are you concerned with the three point shooting or was today an anomaly?
COACH McCAFFERY: A little surprised. I mean, it seemed like we took good shots. We had good shooters. They were in and out. I'm not worried about it.
Q. Has your view of the conference changed?
COACH McCAFFERY: No, no. It's pretty much what I expected it would be. I think everybody in the preseason knew what this league was going to be, and that's what it's been.