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January 27, 2017

Fran McCaffery

Iowa City, Iowa

Q. I think this is the first Saturday night game you've had at home, especially against a Big Ten opponent, in like three years. What are your thoughts on that? Does it matter to you at all?
COACH McCAFFERY: I would like to see more; our fans would like to see more. But there's obviously a lot of factors that go into that. It's decided by the league. I just show up and play whenever the game is. I don't make a big deal about it one way or the other. But if you're asking me my opinion, I'd rather play more.

Q. Scheduling principles play a big part, right?
COACH McCAFFERY: Right. There's so many factors that go into it as you try to put the league schedule together with regard to TV and so forth. I think we all prefer Saturday and Sunday games although Sunday games have been good for us in the past. A lot of families come out on Sundays, but they can't be here on Saturdays. I don't think it's bad that you play some Sunday games, but I don't want to play all Sundays. This year we have two Saturday Big Ten games.

Q. You mentioned the evaluation process after the Illinois game. In the last couple days, what have you gone through on that?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, not much because we got home really late, and we didn't do a ton yesterday. We watched film from the game and then in preparation for Ohio State. Did some shooting, some stretching, and a light lift. But we didn't do a lot on the floor.

Q. What do you want to get done in the short time before the game?
COACH McCAFFERY: We'll see what happens today. We'll have a full practice today. We won't go real long, but we'll go hard when we go, and we'll evaluate it then.

Q. Thoughts on Ohio State?
COACH McCAFFERY: When you look at that team, they've got a lot of talent. They play at their pace. They play like a confident group. Lyle has impressed me. But Thompson's really stepped his game up. Tate is really good. Loving has always been a terrific player. Kam Williams is a guy that I kind of looked at him more as a catch and shoot guy. He's doing stuff of the dribble now that makes him a really hard guard.

All their guys go off the dribble now. They can all make threes. Tate not as much, but he's a guy that's so powerful. It's a team that will really tax your defense in a lot of ways. Get good play off the bench from potter, Jackson. It's a good team.

Q. Do you get tired of hearing how good you're going to be in the future, and people ignoring what's going on now?
COACH McCAFFERY: I don't pay attention to that at all. I go into the mindset of what can we do to win the next game? How can I help each individual player get better? Somebody that's been a good player, hasn't had a good game or a couple bad games, okay. I take responsibility for that, like what can I do to help you? Because ultimately, it's going to help us.

You look at everybody individually, then you look at it collectively, and you try to get better, be better. Maybe it differs for each guy. Maybe it's our motion game is all bogged down. Our transition game doesn't look good. Our zone hasn't really been effective. There's any number of things at any given time. Maybe they're not understanding some things that they need to understand. So whatever we can do to help them, that's what we do.

So in terms of that kind of talk, I really don't think of that.

Q. Philosophically, this kind of came up in the Outback Bowl with Ferentz and Beathard, but when you've got a player that's playing hurt, like Peter is a little bit, where do you as a coach feel like you need to -- where's that line in terms of pulling him?
COACH McCAFFERY: For me, it's real simple. What does the player say, and what do the trainers and doctor say? I don't get to make that decision. If they're declared fit for duty and he wants to play, I'm going to play him. If he feels uncomfortable about that any time and the trainer is like, hey, we've got to shut him down, then we're going to shut him down.

There's not going to be any further discussion like, whoa, wait a minute now. We need this. No, none of that stuff. Whatever they tell me -- so even if he comes out and he's banged up and he's sitting over to the side and they're attending to him, then Brad (Floy) will come and say, hey, he's good to go.

The only time I didn't put him back in when I was told he was good to go was the second half of Northwestern. To me, it didn't make sense at that time.

Q. Is it a timing thing where, if you did shut him down for a couple weeks, could he get a lot better? Is that a consideration?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think it's a legitimate consideration. I look at it like this, it can't hurt. If he is sore in certain areas, rest can only help you. Is it one of those things where the first time he gets banged, it's going to feel the same regardless of whether it takes two days or ten days? I can't tell you that. Only he can tell you that, and only our doctors and medical personnel can tell you that.

But he's obviously been struggling physically. I think we can all agree to that. I don't want to see a guy struggle physically. Our job is to try to help him, like I said. Whether it's X and O, whether it's how can we get you to feel better?

I'm always encouraging my guys -- if you're banged up, you have to live in the training room. You can't show up five minutes before practice, hey, I need a treatment. It doesn't work that way. You've got to get it in the morning. Then you've got to come back in an hour and a half or two hours before practice. Then you've got to get in the cold tub, then maybe another treatment. Then you've got to eat right and sleep right on top of that because it's a long season.

I think we have pretty smart, mature guys that sort of get that component and that's been good. We haven't had a lot of problems that way with guys that all of a sudden they can't go because they've completely neglected their body. Our guys are smart that way, and they're educated by us and by our training people.

Q. So you're saying you would --
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, if I thought, based on what he said and what the trainers are telling me, yeah, I would go with whatever they tell me with zero resistance.

Q. So it's tougher for any player to fight through any injury, but is the back probably one of the harder things to try and fight through --
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, it might be the hardest. It's your center of gravity. Everything you do from a cutting and explosion standpoint, right, it's always your core strength. I was lucky. When I played, I didn't have any back problems. I can't imagine how hard that might be. And I think he's shown so far he's a pretty tough kid. So I'm not going to question him no matter what he says.

Q. Dailey got six minutes against Illinois. What have you seen about his progress?
COACH McCAFFERY: He was making progress. And then he hurt his back. So I didn't play him. I was planning on playing him, and he was basically unfit for duty for about three games, couldn't go. Now he's back healthy, and I put him out there.

I trust him, he's a talented player. He's got length. He's figuring it out. He hasn't had as much playing time as some of those younger guys. So you can only imagine how that might affect his confidence. He has come in and performed well. He hasn't come in and been a big mistake maker. He hasn't broken down. He hasn't been soft. He's competed physically.

He typically scores a bucket when we put him in there. I think he's a good shooter. He missed a jumper the other night, but I would tell him to shoot that 10 times out of 10 and hope that he has the confidence to do so.

Q. You put him in ahead of Isaiah Moss in the Illinois game. Was there a reason behind that?
COACH McCAFFERY: Just giving him a shot, yeah.

Q. On Monday, you talked about the slow starts and the offense not clicking last week, and you came out and kind of struggled again against Illinois. Are you going to make any changes to your lineup?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think it's possible. We'll see how practice goes today. But I think you have to understand -- we can over focus on that kind of stuff because the reality is we have had some inconsistencies that have to be addressed. Sometimes they're at the start. Sometimes they're at the end.

The Maryland game, we're up three with three minutes to go. I'm more focusing on what didn't we do in those three minutes than I was about the start of the game. Well, if you didn't have a bad start, you may have been up seven. Well, the game has different ebbs and flows. Teams go on runs. Lineups click.

We had a unique lineup on the floor that night. Who saw that coming? Nobody, right? But that lineup played great together, and I was so proud of those guys, and the crowd was into it.

Here we are, down a bunch, up three. So I don't really dwell on that. I don't think we should. But we're just trying to develop consistency for 40 minutes, which hasn't happened a lot. It's not uncommon for a young group, but we have really fought hard, and I've been really proud of those guys at times.

Q. How difficult was that for you? Because you've had veteran teams the last three, four years. So now you know that the consistency isn't there, what they had. How difficult is it from a patience perspective?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, it is difficult, and I have to be careful with myself. Remember I said the other night after the game, I've got to evaluate myself. Am I being patient enough? Am I being fair because of my impatience? The thing about this group, they want it bad. They're working really hard to be good at it. So as a coach, that's all you can really ever expect. They're giving me everything they've got.

All we can do is keep working to try to help them get where they need to get to, and that's where -- as a staff, we're grinding. They need to see us grinding because they know we're trying to help them. And then at the same time, as you pointed out, patience is going to be necessary, and occasionally I've lost my patience because they're not getting something that I thought they should get.

I thought the other night in particular I was much more patient maybe than I was the previous game or two. The thing I go back to the Northwestern game, that's going to help you make your lose your patience more. Why? Because we were terrible at times, but it was still 25-22. It was still 51-42. We're right there. So that's going to be disappointing if we come apart at that point in time. Sometimes you've just got to go through it.

Q. How do you differentiate what's youth and then what is just bad mistakes?
COACH McCAFFERY: That's the hardest thing because, when you see coaches lose their patience, sometimes it's, okay, we're beyond youth now. You should know that. I'm expecting you to know that. I try not to be unrealistic with my expectation for any particular player or team. I always say -- and I tell kids this when I recruit them. I'm never going to ask you to do more than you're capable of doing. That is unfair.

So let's say we're messing up on ball screen defense, I'll say to Cordell, I don't expect you to be at the right place at the top of the key and then also guard the guy on the block. How foolish is that? You're trying to do both. You can't. You've got to -- okay, what's the main thing? Make the main thing the main thing. That's what Sherman Dillard always says. Get up and let's guard the ball screen. If the guy rolls, that's somebody else's responsibility until we can get our rotation straightened out.

But if you don't come up with the ball screen to start with and you're late to the party, well, that's a different story. You know you have to be up. It's those kinds of things that you're constantly balancing as a coach because ultimately you want a sense of fairness. So if I make a substitution, if I make a change in the starting lineup, you want a sense of fairness.

I gave him a fair chance. I'm going to try this guy now and then try to communicate. Well, it's not that I don't like you anymore. We want to give him a shot. You're still going to play. Let's contribute off the bench. Might get the same amount of minutes. Obviously, Nicholas Baer doesn't care whether he starts, comes off the bench. He knows he's going to play a lot. He's going to impact the game when he's out there.

Q. We talked about ball screens the other night. Is the main problem the first guy, or is it the help the helpers --
COACH McCAFFERY: It could be all of those things one position to the next, but I tend to focus on the point of attack first. It's hard sometimes because let's say you're the rotation guy, you're the help guy, you're guarding Malcolm Hill. I get it, okay. Coach, you told me I've got to stay close. He's their best player, but it was my rotation. Well, it's got to be your rotation, and somebody else has to pick up Malcolm Hill, and if he makes a three, he makes a three. But read the situation in front of you and then make that decision.

And sometimes that stuff happens so fast, especially if it's handoff, handoff, handoff, ball screen. Handoff, handoff, snake screen, flat screen, flip screen. It happened to Kriener the other night. They flipped it on him, and he was on the wrong side. He's up there grinding. He sprinted up, and he's trying to communicate to Jordan. Those things are not easy. That's why everybody runs them.

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