Point/counterpoint: Which first-year coach is doing better — McCaffery or Hoiberg?

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 01, 2011 7:20 AM

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Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State

Let’s face it — neither Fran McCaffery or Fred Hoiberg will remember their first year as a coach in the state particularly fondly. The two teams have combined for five wins in their respective conferences. Ouch.

And while McCaffery can claim the cooler nickname (sorry, Mayor: White Magic trumps you any day of the week), Hoiberg can take solace in piecing together an overall better season.

Expectations weren’t high for either team, but Hoiberg has steered the Cyclones into position to finish above .500 for the first time since 2006. Iowa State sits at 15-14 with two winnable games left. Iowa, on the other hand, is an underwhelming 10-18 and will be hard-pressed to beat either Michigan State or Purdue.

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Hoiberg has also done more with less talent than McCaffery. The Mayor inherited a mediocre roster from predecessor Greg McDermott and finished nonconference play with a 13-2 record. McCaffery brought along Melsahn Basabe and Bryce Cartwright, two of the best players in the Big Ten, but the Hawkeyes went 0-7 in games decided by six points or fewer.

When it’s all said and done, it’s safe to assume McCaffery will have a better overall career in the Hawkeye State. For now, though, the Mayor wins out.

Of course, I’m a little biased: Hoiberg complimented my gloriously garish zebra-striped necktie when his Cyclones visited Carver-Hawkeye Arena in December.

— by Seth Roberts

Fran McCaffery, Iowa

Call Fran McCaffery’s first season at the helm of the Iowa basketball team what you want, but he has already done a better job at rebuilding a program than his in-state rival Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State.

While McCaffery’s first year after leaving Siena has been marked with a significant number of losses (currently a 10-18 overall record, 3-13 in the Big Ten), Fran the Man has already shown some glimpses of brilliance. Iowa has played nearly every team — including then — No. 1 Ohio State — extremely close (at least in the Jan. 4 game). Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the season was a decisive 72-52 victory over Michigan State in Iowa City on Feb. 2.

Even though Iowa State did defeat Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena early in December, the Black and Gold seems to be heading in a more positive direction. McCaffery is doing a much better job of recruiting, snagging the No. 2 recruit in the state of Iowa in shooting guard Josh Oglesby, and Aaron White, a power forward from Ohio. Oglesby and White are ranked as “91” and “89” overall recruits, respectively, by ESPN recruiting.

Hoiberg has yet to establish himself as a top recruiter. His top prospect so far, a heralded transfer — Royce White — was kicked out of Minnesota after a slew of legal troubles. Ex-Michigan State Spartan Korie Lucious reportedly may transfer to Iowa State, as well.

Though Iowa State does have a winning record — the Cyclones are 15-14 overall — it has won just two conference games in the weaker Big 12, going 2-12 in conference play. Recently, Iowa State overcame a 10-game losing streak with an overtime win over Nebraska, a team that will move to the Big Ten next year.

There’s reason to be hopeful for the Hawkeye faithful. In five seasons at Siena, McCaffery went 112-51, including three-consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships, and he also won the conference Coach of the Year award in 2009. Hoiberg has never coached a basketball team before this year, and he has yet to prove himself on the court or in recruiting.

In this case, I would take experience over youth.

— by Ben Ross

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