New coach McCaffery: ‘We’re going to disrupt rhythm a little bit’


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The name “Fran McCaffery” wasn’t one many Hawkeye fans conjured up as a replacement after Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta fired Todd Lickliter and began his pursuit for a new men’s basketball head coach.

But 13 days after getting rid of Lickliter, Barta picked McCaffery to take over a program in desperate need of rejuvenation.

McCaffery agreed to become Iowa’s 22nd men’s basketball head coach on Sunday after coaching the past five at Siena. He will be introduced to the media at 11 a.m. today in a press conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

McCaffery met with the players shortly after arriving at the Eastern Iowa Airport on Sunday. They responded confidently about the coaching transition.

“He seems like a great guy,” junior Jarryd Cole said in a statement. “He knows exactly what he wants to come in here and do. He has a vision of what he wants us to do in the future, and it sounds pretty successful.”

During his five-year tenure in Loudonville, N.Y., McCaffery won three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles (both regular-season and tournament). His former boss, Siena Athletics Director John D’Argenio, congratulated him on the new post in a statement.

“I thank him for his dedication and commitment to Siena basketball the past five years and for his commitment to the values and traditions of Siena College,” he said.

McCaffery also guided the Saints to NCAA Tournament victories over No. 4-seed Vanderbilt in 2008 and No. 8-seed Ohio State in 2009.

Prior to coaching at Siena, McCaffery was also a head coach at Lehigh and North Carolina-Greensboro, both of which he guided to NCAA Tournament appearances. In between those two stints, McCaffery spent 11 seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame, working the first three years under Digger Phelps, now a college-basketball analyst for ESPN.

“Fran McCaffery is a great hiring for Iowa,” Phelps said in a statement on Sunday. “He was a great assistant coach and has done a great job in making Siena the ‘Gonzaga of the East.’ He will bring back the traditions of Iowa basketball.”

McCaffery comes to Iowa City looking to repair a program experiencing its worst season in school history — a 10-22 campaign that included the most losses Iowa has suffered in a season.

In a Sunday evening interview with the Big Ten Network, McCaffery talked about how he’ll coach his new team.

“I think our style of play will appeal to our fans,” McCaffery told the Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine on Sunday after arriving in Iowa City. “We’re going to push the ball, we’re going to change defenses, we’re going to disrupt rhythm a little bit.

“I think when folks see us play and they see how unselfishly we play, they’ll really appreciate our style.”

Barta fired Lickliter after he served three years as the Hawkeyes’ head coach. Breaking what was a seven-year contract signed in 2007 means Lickliter will receive $2.4 million over the next four years.

Terms of McCaffery’s deal had not been disclosed as of Sunday evening. He had signed an eight-year contract extension with Siena after last season.

“I hope it’s a smooth transition,” sophomore Matt Gatens said in a statement. “Obviously, it is a change, and it will take a little time to get used to a new system and a different philosophy. But hopefully, we can relate and have a good time together and get this thing going.”

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