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McCaffery: ‘I have to engage the students. I have to go to them’

BY SCOTT MILLER | APRIL 15, 2010 7:30 AM

Rob Johnson/The Daily Iowan
Head Hawkeye basketball coach Fran McCaffery answers questions during an interview on Tuesday in his office at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. McCaffery was hired as the coach in late March.
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The Daily Iowan: How have these two weeks been since you’ve been hired?

Fran McCaffery: It has been very busy, as you can imagine, on a lot of different fronts. With regard to the players we have, that’s a priority — the players who are here. And then making sure I reach out to the [national letter of intent] signees. … There [are] a lot of things that take a lot of time, but once the staff’s settled, the roster’s settled, then we’ll slow down a little bit, then we can focus on the next two classes of recruits — and, more importantly, focus on the players we have here.

DI: I’m sure you’ve run into a bunch of Hawkeye fans over the last two weeks that are really passionate about the program. What do you tell the fans on the other end of the spectrum who need to be sold on this program?

McCaffery: I don’t tell them anything more than who I am and what my plan is. I try to be enthusiastic about it. The style of play I think is going to be different. I think people are excited about that. I’m excited about the players that we have. … They’re Hawkeye fans, and they want to come back and fill up this facility. They love Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and they want the place loud and tough for teams to come in and win, and that’s how it’s going to be.

DI: Students might be an even harder sell than your average fan. Do you have any plans with the Hawks Nest and your players to go around campus and promote the team?

McCaffery: We’re going to do all of that. I met with [the Hawks Nest] right after my press conference, and the enthusiasm there was great. And then we had a student gathering, which was pretty big. I spent time with those students and [answered] questions. It was really, really exciting for me to see that kind of enthusiasm. So I think they’re ready, and I think they want to get behind us. … But then again, I have to engage them; I have to go to them, too. So I’ll offer myself to go talk to dormitories and to wherever — student gatherings — and just answer questions and get to know our student body and seek their help. We need them.

DI: In your pep rally, you were asked a question about the possibility of moving the student section. Have you thought more about that and have you thought of any ways specifically that you can make that happen?

McCaffery: That’s really not my area. I think every coach wants the students to be where they want to be and to be able to make as much noise as possible. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. I’m going to try to coach the basketball team, and I’ll leave the seating to other folks who know what they’re doing.

DI: I know you can’t talk about specific unsigned recruits, but you have four scholarships open right now. Ideally, how many scholarships would you like to fill by the end of the signing period, which started Wednesday?

McCaffery: At least three, I would think. If it was two, that wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I would like at least three. … I’ve got a pretty good feel for what we have. But we’ve got to get at least one more big player and at least one more guard, and then the next-best available after that. I say I’d like to have three, but I’m not going to sign that third if I don’t think he’s going to be able to help us. … There’s no sense in bringing in a duplication, position-wise. You bring in somebody who brings a different skill-set to the table, and that’s how you put a team together.

DI: Imagine I’m a 6-10 power forward from Des Moines. How do you sell me on coming here?

McCaffery: The first thing I’d want to do is I’d want to get you on campus because I think the campus is beautiful. The facility renovation proves we’re fully behind making our program successful. I would talk about my background — why I’ve been successful, how I do it. … What’s my vision for you? Where do you fit on this team? … We’re going to win, how we’re going to win, why we’re going to win. I will care about your welfare as a human being and make sure that you graduate, make sure that you’re health is taken care of. … All those things. It’s not just, come here, I need a big guy, I’ve got minutes because you’re a good big guy, come here and play for me.

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