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Notebook: McCaffery dealing with a new challenge

BY TORK MASON | NOVEMBER 08, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa men’s basketball team showcased its depth against Quincy (Ill.) in an exhibition game on Nov. 4, and that’s something head coach Fran McCaffery said fans can expect to see consistently this season.

The second unit went on a 25-0 run in the second half of the exhibition, which came on the heels of a 10-0 run by Quincy. McCaffery said he’s typically been a “short-bench guy” throughout his career, in part because of the places he’s coached. He’s used to having seven or eight players who clearly need to be on the floor, and then a drop-off in talent after that first group.

That used to make his job simpler, McCaffery said. But now he’s working with a new dynamic and a 10-man rotation.

“This has been a much more complicated thing to manage when you look at players who deserve to play and players who are expecting to play, and they’ve done nothing to suggest that they shouldn’t play more,” McCaffery said. “There’s only so many minutes to go around, and they just have to be ready, and they have to be confident in their role, accepting of their role, and then understand that they might actually be on the floor at the end of the game.”

McCaffery said that depth is paying off in practices, as well. Competition behind closed doors is intense. Freshmen point guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons embrace the fight, McCaffery said.

Gesell said he’s benefitted from Clemmons’ defensive intensity.

“He’s such a good defender,” Gesell said. “Going up against him every day in practice, he might be one of the best defenders I’ve seen all season. Some of those Big Ten guards are real physical, and he plays a little bit like that.”

Woodbury making transition to college game 

Freshman Adam Woodbury got into foul trouble in the exhibition and didn’t get as much time as his coach wanted him to. McCaffery said he made a mistake by keeping the freshman on the bench in that situation.

“What I probably should have done on Sunday is just left him out there with two fouls and let him keep playing,” McCaffery said.

Making the transition to the more physical college game might be easier for Woodbury than many players, though. McCaffery said 7-footers in high school often don’t get the benefit of the doubt from officials because of their height advantage. Woodbury said it’s different at the college level.

“Being that big in high school, you don’t play against many guys who are the same size,” Woodbury said. “The focus is on you, and if you make a little bit [of contact] here and there, the calls are going to go against you more times than not. Being in college now, you play against similar-sized guys and the spotlight doesn’t focus on you as much.”

Sophomore Aaron White said knowing the flow of the game defensively and avoiding bad fouls can be a challenge for a freshman. It might take some time for things to slow down for Woodbury, he said.

“I think the game comes to [Woodbury] offensively, but it’s a little quick for him on defense,” White said. “At least, that’s how it was for me. That’s what I struggled with last year: Not getting too up into people, getting fouls that took me out of the game …

“It’s just a different pace than high school, but he’ll get it.”


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