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New basketball aide moving ahead

BY BRENDAN STILES | APRIL 14, 2010 7:30 AM

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Men’s assistant basketball coach, mentor, teacher, friend. That’s the job Andrew Francis said he signed on for at his first press conference on Tuesday.

“I try to be a person who teaches more than just basketball. It’s something that I take very seriously,” Francis said. “Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is have a great basketball program, win a lot of games, have guys be successful academically, and also help guys to be prepared to be successful in life.”

The former assistant at Siena followed new Iowa headman Fran McCaffery to the university; he had served under McCaffery for the past three seasons. Since formally interviewing on April 7 and accepting the job, he has worked at a rapid rate.

“There were calls to be made and people to talk to and see, and I haven’t really had that much time to let it sink in yet,” Francis said. “It will sink in once we cool down a little bit. But right now, we’ve got so much work that we want to accomplish.”

Francis described himself as a humble guy, someone who cares tremendously about being successful on the hardwood and away from it.

“It’s about mentoring these young men. … I think it’s important that we continue to grow and help the next generation because people have helped us along the way.”

Not only is McCaffery high on Francis’ recruiting ability, he also commends the assistant’s ability to communicate.

“As important as it is that he hit the ground running from a recruiting standpoint, it’s also as critical that he develop relationships with our players,” McCaffery said. “He’s a class individual all the way through.”

At the moment, Francis’ duties at Iowa aren’t settled. Under McCaffery at Siena, he said he had freedom to work with whoever on whatever.

While McCaffery may eventually ask Francis to work more with a specific group of players, the assistant said he is open to whatever is asked of him.

“Basketball is basketball, and when you study the game itself, you study each individual player,”

Francis said. “You don’t want to be generic with how you try to help the players improve because each player is going to have different things that he’s good at. He made need different things to help his personal game improve, which will in the bigger picture improve the whole team.”

Francis called this current situation a “work in progress,” and while the remainder of McCaffery’s coaching staff remains vacant, the new Hawkeye aide has placed an emphasis on hitting the recruiting trail hard and signing prep prospects who want to play for the Hawkeyes. He said he quickly noticed how receptive fans have been.

“We’re going to try to get the best players possible, and not only the best players who fit the system, but also the best young people,” Francis said. “It’s important to Coach McCaffery, and it’s important to the direction we want to go now.”


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