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February 20, 2017

Fran McCaffery

Iowa City, Iowa

Q. It's Dale Jones bobblehead tomorrow night; is he leaving the program after this year?
COACH McCAFFERY: That's not been decided yet but it's a possibility. That would be his call. He will graduate. If you graduate, you have the opportunity to go wherever you want. Does he want to come back; does he want to go somewhere else; does he want to play professionally.

Once you graduate, it's your call. I'm happy he's going to graduate. He's done everything we've asked him to do.

Q. For him, hes had injuries that have prevented from him playing to his level --
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, it has been very frustrating for him, no question.

Q. What are your thoughts on Indiana, different-looking team, but what they started the year as.
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, when you look at the roster at the start of the season, especially with Hartman and OG and then with Blackmon's injury, it's given opportunity for some other guys to step up. I think they play well at times without those guys, but it's been harder. It's changed other people's roles.

But, they still have Blackmon, Johnson, Newkirk, bullet-quick backcourt guys who can make threes. Bryant is playing extremely well. Morgan has gotten an opportunity to play a lot more without OG. Last year, he was splitting time with all those guys and he's played really well. Davis is good.

They still have personnel that present problems for you, and Tom's got them playing. I mean, they lost a couple games in a row, but they are battling and fighting. It was a tough loss for them against Minnesota, taking the lead late and then they had a shot, essentially at the buzzer.

Q. You can say this about almost any game, but the 3-point shooting seems like it's huge against the Indiana transition defense because of the way they play; is that fair?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, they are going to shoot a bunch of them. But they also get them off of dribble penetration. They also get them off post-feed kickouts. I mean, I think they shoot a lot of threes but I don't think they shoot a lot of bad threes. I think they are pretty good with their shot selection.

Q. Last year, you guys were kind of able neutralize Bryant to some extent with Woodbury. How do you do that this time around?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, he's really been impressive because he does it inside and out. He's really active. I think he's in great shape. He's accepted the challenge of, like he's got to step up now with some guys out, he is shooting threes. He's driving the ball from the perimeter. He's posting hard. They run stuff for him. He can play in transition, because of his great speed for somebody that back and he gets to the offensive glass and takes advantage of his length. He's a handful. So we've got a lot of work to do to defend him.

Q. When Gabe was here, you kind of tailored that summer trip for him so he could play in front of his family. Was that some of the motivation with this summer trip coming up with Dom?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, if we ever have a player from a foreign country, and we have a chance to go on a foreign tour, that's our turn, then we'll go there. We'll always go wherever that person's from.

Q. Last four games, what do you want to see happen? Other than obviously you want to win all four games, but what do you want to see happen in the locker room as much as on the court with these guys?
COACH McCAFFERY: You want to play to your capabilities individually and collectively, and play intelligently at the right times, and obviously have some success. So just cut down on your mistakes and improve in areas maybe we have not been as good throughout the course of the year. Continue to get better, and watch some guys individually step up.

Q. Do you feel like Peter was trying to do too much Saturday?
COACH McCAFFERY: Maybe at the end, yeah. I could see that happening with him. He's trying to make a play. He's trying to make a big basket. He's just got to be careful when they are all in like that and they are all locked in on him; because we had two really good looks at it, late.

Brady's three and Baer's three were as good of looks as you could get, and he was involved in both situations. He did everything we asked him to do on those possessions. So it was unfortunate neither of them went in.

Q. Dom Uhl's play has been a little bit inconsistent where at times he's played really well last year and 3-point shooting at the beginning --
COACH McCAFFERY: I think it's difficult to categorize him as being inconsistent. He's not a bonafide scorer. That's not who he is. He's not going to be. He had a couple threes and that's one thing, but I think he's been very consistent. He's just a defensive guy that makes plays off the dribble and can play multiple positions. He's really smart. He's never going to be a 20-point scorer. That's not who he is.

Q. You're starting to use that press a little bit more in recent games; is there a reason why?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think we've done a good job with it. We did have a couple breakdowns, and that's part of that defense, because sometimes you are more aggressive and sometimes you're less aggressive. We were really aggressive in it on Saturday, and we got some steals. We got some turnovers but we also gave up a couple layups. That was unfortunate. Hopefully you have more of the former and less of the latter.

Q. Plan on being as similarly aggressive against Indiana?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think you've got to be careful with them. They have such speed in the backcourt. Got to be careful with that. But we've used it against Indiana in the past.

Q. Christian's length, it's been that way all year but seems like he's starting to figure things out more on defense.
COACH McCAFFERY: I think he's getting more confidence. He's playing a little bit more. He's been good when I've put him in. Remember that one stretch where I was playing him and he was doing good stuff and he was getting the ball in the basket and he was missing some layups, and I think that affected him a little bit.

I like the way he's playing lately. I've been proud of him.

Q. How have you seen him respond, tough situation to lose your starting job and now working his way back in the rotation.
COACH McCAFFERY: He's been incredibly professional. He just keeps grinding. Put him on the scout team; put him on the second team; put him in the lineup. Jordan tweaks something and give him the ball: "Whatever you need me to do." That's a special character that he has.

Q. If he could develop a jumpshot that's consistent, is that the one thing that's still --
COACH McCAFFERY: You're right. You can say that about a lot of guys. But he shoots it well enough to throw one in for you once in a while. He's going to be attacking the basket. If he could just continue to attack the basket the way that he does and finish.

Maybe an occasional pullup; make an occasional three; defends. He's a unique guy, because normally, tell your point guard run back on defense when the shot goes. But with him, he's a really good offensive rebounder, so you've got to let him go a little bit and get others to come back and protect the basket. He's got kind of a unique game that way, and you can switch more with him and he can guard the post. He can guard 6-foot-7 wings.

That's harder for Jordan, especially with ball screen action. I mean, I'm pleased with how he's playing.

Q. That sequence against Michigan State, have you ever seen anything like that when Williams got three straight steals?
COACH McCAFFERY: That was pretty impressive. He had a big one other day. It was a great, instinctive play. And again, I think the more you see him get confidence, the more kinds of things like that he'll do; it has great impact on our team when he does that. He's very well liked and very well respected on the team, so the guys are rooting for him.

Q. Do you start to manage things now in terms of the freshmen, this is kind of an area that they have not been before in terms of games. So I'm not really looking to -- I'm not worried about anybody's fatigue factor, for example. I mean, unless they have a nagging injury or, you know, they are sick for some reason. Kind of play the guys that are playing well and go as hard as we can. Four games left in the regular season. Got to be ready.
COACH McCAFFERY: It's a little different, though, because we are playing more guys. We are still playing 11. We're still trying to get Dale in there, if I can; that's 12. Maishe's 13.

Q. Is it more of a mental grind?
COACH McCAFFERY: It is a mental grind, and you're right, it is different for a freshman. But, everybody else is going through the same thing. You just have to be tough, and we've got to do what we have to do to get them so that they can handle it. Be respectful of what we can hold them accountable for.

You want to hold them accountable but you don't want to go too far and demand what they are incapable of giving you, and I think I've always done a pretty good job of managing that. Like who is capable of doing what; what can you give me. Just give me that. We want more; we want more. Okay, we always want more, but if they always feel like they are not coming through for you because you're demanding more and they can't give it to you, then you're being unrealistic. And you can't be unrealistic, because you want them to ultimately feel good about what they are doing.

Q. How have you seen them respond to their own personal motivation to that kind of thing? Obviously your approach to them is one thing, but how they are thinking independently.
COACH McCAFFERY: They have continued to grind.

I always look at it like this: Like how was yesterday's practice? Were they moping? Were they down? They grinded. They came to work. They were here early and we grinded. We didn't back off on them. Practiced hard, and again, demanded effort.

I didn't have them in there for three hours. It was an intelligent practice plan that was I think fair for where we are in the season. I think they know that I'm going to do that, and they give it to us. I was proud of them yesterday and I think that's how I judge it.

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