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McCaffery: ‘We’ve got to win some games’

BY SCOTT MILLER | APRIL 16, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Daily Iowan: You said in your opening press conference that one of the most important things to do is re-recruit the players currently on your roster. How did that process go and was it more difficult than you thought?

Fran McCaffery: No, it has actually been great. I had individual meetings with every one of them, attended some of our lifting workouts, talk to them on the phone regularly, been out for pizza with a couple of them at different times just to make sure that they’re relaxed and get to know me and form a relationship.

DI: Do you find that these guys are eager to have that off-the-court relationship with you?

McCaffery: Yeah, there’s no question. They want to have a relationship where they’re comfortable around me. They’re not going to be afraid to joke around on the bus or when we’re traveling or before practice. Once we start practice, we’re serious and demanding, and we want them to work hard.

DI: What makes you think your current players can play your fast-paced style when they haven’t played it here thus far?

McCaffery: What’s interesting is, to a man, they all want to play that style. I think everybody is saying, “Boy, I don’t know.” You watch Cully Payne play, he’s got some juice. He wants to go. We’ve got some athletic wings who can run the floor. And when you run the floor in transition, you can shoot the ball. … There’s more space, and then you can go right into your offense. … So I think it’s much better for our team to give them an opportunity to get in transition, have more space, start the offense right away in attack mode, and put the defense back on their heels a little bit.

DI: Obviously, Aaron Fuller has decided to transfer. Do you expect any more defections?

McCaffery: No.

DI: What makes you say that?

McCaffery: I feel like I’ve had enough conversations, spent enough time [with our players]. I don’t see anyone else going anywhere.

DI: One more player has transferred, which makes 10 scholarship transferees in the last three years, and two recruits have been released from their letter of intents. What’s the best way to keep a sense of apathy from overtaking fans?

McCaffery: I’ve seen this before, and everybody starts counting up. There have been, I think, a lot different circumstances surrounding why a lot of different people have left. Some were really different, some were for nothing more than Aaron Fuller wanted to go back closer to home. That happens. It’s incumbent upon me to create the kind of atmosphere nobody wants to leave. If you look at my track record with the teams I’ve coached, there has been very little transferring.

Sometimes you can help it. … But my players, by and large, have stayed and played four years and competed for me. And that’s what I expect will happen in the future.

DI: A few players went down to Panama City over spring break, which overlapped with the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. It’s a trip that had to be planned a little bit in advance, I would imagine. This brings out a sense that a losing culture was present, meaning they weren’t expecting to be in the NCAA Tournament. How do you fight that thinking, that culture?

McCaffery: The first I’d tell them is that you should never experience spring break in your lifetime. That’s the first thing I’m going to tell them, because we’re going to be playing somewhere. And that’s a mindset I will instill in all of our players. So nobody’s going to make spring-break reservations while I’m here.

DI: But how do you fight the culture itself, where that idea sets into your mind?

McCaffery: You address it, and you move on. I don’t think that it will happen again with the players that are here, and it certainly won’t be evident in the players who are coming.

DI: Financially, this is a program that has seen its revenue dip consistently in recent years. What is the best way to combat this problem?

McCaffery: We’ve got to win some games. I think that’s a big step, but I also think there’s more to it. I have to be somebody who’s accessible, that talks to people, that sells the program, that people can get their arms around and say, “You know what? We like what he’s saying. We believe in what he’s doing. And we want to come and watch his teams play.” … And there are so many people who are true Hawkeyes. They want us to be good, and they want to be here supporting us. And they’ll do anything to help us, within NCAA rules, to make it happen.

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