Fran McCaffery discusses Indiana matchup, Keegan Murray's record breaking performance, and more after Rutgers win
Fran McCaffery spoke to the media after Iowa beat Rutgers 84-74 on Friday. The Hawkeyes were upset by the Scarlett Knights 48-46 back in January. Now they await Indiana, who has started to get really hot in the B1G tournament as of late, knocking off Michigan and top seeded Illinois.
Iowa’s Keegan Murray lead the team in scoring and dropped in 26 points, which makes him the leader in single-season scoring with 750 points this year. The record was last held by Luka Garza, who scored 747 points in a season.
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Fran McCaffery was asked about if he believes Rutgers are an NCAA tournament team. Other things that got brought was the resiliency of his team, and lineup changes that were made during the game.
Here’s everything that McCaffery said following his team’s win against Rutgers:
On Rutgers chances of being an NCAA tournament team: “You know, I’m kind of baffled by the question. I’m not trying to be disrespectful. To me, it’s a no-brainer. That’s an NCAA Tournament team,” said McCaffery. “But the wins that they had this year, the wins they had on the road with the talent that they have, you know, I think sometimes you look at metrics, but sometimes, you know, like we say, you have the eyeball test. You look at that team and it’s an NCAA Tournament team, and that’s what they are.”
About the Indiana matchup: “You have to be really impressed with the job that Indiana’s done here in particular,” said McCaffery. “You know, they lost some games down the stretch, but I don’t think in any way it was indicative of the caliber of team. They lost a couple really tough games. The ball didn’t bounce their way and they just kept coming. And they showed up here I think determined; we’re in the tournament, like we’re going to the tournament. And now they think they can win it, this one. You have to be respectful of the way that they’ve continued to compete. Obviously, it will be a great atmosphere with them being here.”
When asked about his team’s resiliency: “You know, I think we have a lot of players that are really confident in themselves, so if I start going to my bench, those guys typically produce, and then when I go back to the guys that maybe weren’t playing as well, they typically produce again,” said McCaffery. “But it’s a strong confidence in themselves. I’ve talked about that all the time. It’s — my primary objective as their coach is to get them to play with supreme confidence because that’s the only way they will ever be the best version of themselves. Their teammates on the bench are really positive with them, we pretty much stay positive with them. I’ll get on them once in a while for what I feel are egregious mistakes for things that we’ve already covered repeatedly, and we don’t make many of those so we kind of stay positive with them. I think it’s really important in this league, especially with the caliber of teams that you’re playing and the different styles that you see on a daily basis, you’ve got to be able to punch back.”
About offering both of the Murray brothers scholarships: “We’ve talked about this topic a fair amount because a lot of people felt the same way, but what I’ve said publicly, anybody that watched them, I don’t think that I was that far ahead of the curve. Like if you watched them play, you would have come to the same conclusion that I did,” said McCaffery.”It wasn’t a favor, it wasn’t a gift, it wasn’t, hey, we’ll take a shot at two 6-8 kids. That’s not how I operate. I have a responsibility to this program and to the institution to recruit Big Ten caliber players. And we don’t always get it right, you know that, but I was 100 convinced that those two kids were going to be really good, and so was my staff who watched them. Not a lot of people went to their high school games and they didn’t play on a high profile AAU team, so they didn’t get the exposure or the recognition that other people got. That’s not their fault. They took care of business and they worked on their games and they worked on their bodies and they were dominant players when they did take the floor. So what they’re doing now is not a shock to me or my staff or quite frankly anybody that watched them develop.”
On the lineup during the game: “I thought Payton did a great job on the glass,” said McCaffery. “So did Connor. Connor throwing the alley-oops, we got our transition game going, but I think the critical thing there was in that stretch, in the beginning they were taking it right through us and then we got some consecutive stops. You’ve got to rebound. They’re a team that they’ll miss, but they’ll go back and get it, they’ll go back and get it again, they’ll go back and get it again. And we got it and we went the other way with it and that team really clicked with the transition opportunities at that point and big change in the complexion of that game, you’re right.”