Video and transcript: Fran McCaffery press conference 11-15-21
FRAN McCAFFERY: (Joined in class) What they’re supposed to do, especially with everyone in a new situation.
But I thought you looked like Payton Sandfort, I thought he was playing well. He didn’t play like a freshman. Our guys who haven’t played so much last year, I thought they were playing like veteran guys, which they should have, because they’ve been here a year. But they were there with fans, so it was different for them.
I am therefore generally very satisfied.
Q. Joe seemed to play fast but under control.
FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah, he impacts the game in so many different ways. He probably had a few turnovers that he probably would like to recover, but he was aware of it, without forcing anything.
And it is sometimes a difficult place because we want it to be aggressive. That’s what makes it special. But there are times when he may have a turnover or two that you would like to recoup.
But I think he’s really playing with a maturity that we knew how to achieve, and we’re happy for him.
Q. You mentioned all the guys in different roles. Especially on the defensive side, communication can be a big issue when it comes to new guys in new roles. Looks like they really attacked him defensively on the first couple …
FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah, I think you’re right, when you say communication it means there are five guys that are together. Whether it’s ball screen action or one side of the ground against another, transitioning and trying to put it together, you have to watch out for each other. You have to play together.
I think a lot of people mistakenly think that I am protecting my man. We keep them. We have to be together, and if we change, we change; if we are not, we are not. If we’re fighting for, you know, are we in a rush? Well, we’ve got to be in the right place. Are we trapping? Then we have to turn, because if there is two against one, then there is four against three.
So you need to rotate and close properly, and the other guys need to know that his teammate is going to be where he’s supposed to be, or they’ll be hesitant to go where they’re supposed to go. It is therefore a connected. We always talk about being connected defensively, and that’s what it means.
Q. I watched a few games this weekend, and some of these teams are completely overhauled, their rosters. You have a new player that you step into. How much easier is it to familiarize yourself with the list in terms of stability?
FRAN McCAFFERY: You think of the team we’re playing with tomorrow. It’s a team with a winning DNA. It’s hard to do what LeVelle did there: multiple championships, multiple NCAA tournament appearances, yet he has nine transfers and only a few returning guys. We played them a year ago.
This is the world we live in. We talked about it. So you are right. For us we have veteran guys coming back, we have veteran guys in the second unit making an impact on the guys coming off the bench and playing important minutes and having important roles.
Q. I don’t mean to belittle any of the first six opponents, but what do you want them to be or ideally where would you want to be by the seventh game when that four game streak is pretty imposing?
FRAN McCAFFERY: When you’re playing games this time of year, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, you just want to get better. You want to improve collectively, individually, you want to gain confidence and you want to settle into what we want to accomplish.
Are we moving? Are we performing together? How is our zone defense? What does our press look like? What does the movement violation look like? Do guys read correctly?
You have to keep improving and you have to keep growing, especially when you have young people trying to improve.
Q. As for the players who just signed, what can you say about Dasonte Bowen and Josh Dix, what interested you about them as players? What do you think they will add?
FRAN McCAFFERY: They are two great players. Starting with Dasonte, we’ve been watching it for a long time. We saw him grow up. He’s really creative, he’s versatile, he’s got size, he’s got length. He has the ability to get in the way. He can score. He has good feelings and he is a competitor.
Josh, much the same way. He’s a little bigger than Dasonte, but he’s just got a really, really good sense of the game. He’s really tough. He is intelligent. He can score. He can run the point. He can play in different positions defensively.
These guys are really good players.
Q. They could obviously play together, right?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah.
Q. Is it made for this recruiting class or are you still evaluating?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Never done. We could potentially sign another one, but it all depends on the rest of our list, who comes back, who doesn’t.
Q. Josh adds another perspective to the state. You spoke about it on media day. What can you say about its addition to this player pipeline in the state?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah, we’re trying to assess the prospects in the state as best we can. We don’t always get it right. We are trying to. We’re pretty thorough not just looking at these guys as they approach the time they might sign, but way before that, when they’re young kids, in eighth, ninth, tenth grade.
So we see a lot of them on the AAU circuit, we see them in their high school atmosphere, then we try to project them because. Sometimes they’re not ready when they’re in the ninth or tenth grade, but they’re ready when they’re in the twelfth grade.
Our staff understand that we want to make sure we know all of these guys and assess them properly, develop a relationship with them, invite them to campus as young people. Do they adapt to our style of play? Are they meeting a need we have? We’ve done really well with guys from State who I think in many ways wanted to wear the Hawkeye jersey but wore it with great pride and had incredible success.
Q. In the match notes for tomorrow’s game it is mentioned that you are the only team in the country with two groups of brothers. What does it do for a team and for the brothers?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, obviously I can speak a little differently when it comes to Patrick and Connor. I mean, they have a special bond. They’ve been best friends ever since they were little. You would think, I bet they were fighting all the time. They really didn’t, which is rare. They won a state championship together. They played together for two years.
Patrick really wanted to come back here and play with his brother again, so they are impact players for our team; they are excellent teammates.
Kris and Keegan are a little different because they are twins. They entered together. They are still together. It’s a little different. Connor and Patrick are two years apart.
But Kris and Keegan are really pushing each other. They constantly challenge each other in a very unique way.
But all four of them are so much fun to train. They are smart, tough, they care about each other, their teammates, produce on the pitch.
So where I’m from, you know, it’s just a joy to see them and coach them every day.
Q. I think of a lot of young players that you have had over the years. Payton Sandfort came in, started shooting straight away. Payton kind of struck me as a very aggressive player, but that’s not always the case when guys come into a program that they’re comfortable being that aggressive. What do you tell them throughout the recruiting process to make them feel free to be aggressive the way they have been?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Basically tell them that, that very thing. Not only is this our way of playing, it’s what I expect from you. So I would be more inclined to criticize them if they refused the shots. You recruit Peyton Sandfort, he’s a great shooter. Why would you blame him for shooting? It does not mean anything.
Having said that, I know him quite well. He’s a smart player. He’s not going to regularly shoot contested lines that don’t have a chance to get in. As if he doesn’t take bad shots.
But sometimes a really good shooter or a guy you want to be aggressive about can take a bad shot. This is when you have to be careful and say – say nothing. I do not. I had this problem with Isaiah Moss all the time. I would say, why didn’t you shoot this? Keep shooting. He finally did and I was proud of him when he did.
That’s what I want from our guys.
Q. What kind of role does Filip Rebraca play for this team coming from last year being in this North Dakota leading the team in the points ahead here how.
FRAN McCAFFERY: He was really good the other night. He was special. It provides a veteran with the ability to play with physique. He’s talented. He has a variety of skills that really manifest in different ways. Because he can dribble it, shoot it, score inside; he can easily give it up.
It protects bullet screens really well. He slips his feet. I think you see him keep improving game after game.