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November 15, 2017

Fran McCaffery

Iowa City, Iowa

Q. How is Connor looking heading into tomorrow night?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, his ankle looks a lot better. He's been a little sick. So we'll see how that works out for him. We'll know more today about that.

Q. Is it important that he plays this game?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think it's important for guys to get experience. He hasn't played a game yet because he missed the first two.

Yeah, I think it is important that he play, as long as he's capable.

Q. Can he gain something, though, from observing a little bit right now? Like I know you said you talked to him about the other night.
COACH McCAFFERY: There's no question about that, because the observing that you're talking about, it's sort of the end result of practice leading up to it, scouting reports, film sessions. So you sort of watch how we put it together and then you see if the guys are carrying out the game plan on the floor.

And then you're seeing if it as a result of the game plan, maybe some of the aspects if maybe not working; we have to make changes, how do we make those adjustments; how do guys adjust. It's a completely different perspective. The more you go through that, the better capable you are of being effective.

Q. Has he always like the technical part of the game?
COACH McCAFFERY: Always. And it's interesting because Connor and Patrick grew up in the same house, and Patrick was never that way. Never had any interest being in the film room and that kind of thing, whereas Connor always did.

Q. Talking about some of your guards, defense has been the forefront of what they wanted to do and improve upon. How do you go about teaching them on-ball defense? I know your approach is a different style.
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, some coaches will force one way. We don't do that. We square up. So you play your man straight up, one foot up, one foot back, get your feet apart, get your tail down and slide your feet.

The question then becomes: Where do you put the rest of the guys. Are they in denial or in the gaps. We're kind of in between there and we get over toward the ball, and then how are you playing ball screens. That's the other side of it. Do you take it to the ball screen or do you go away from the ball screen or do you trap the ball screen, those kinds of things.

It really depends on who you are playing and what their offense is and how you want to guard their particular action. Because sometimes we're concerned about guarding their action and sometimes we're concerned about -- not about their action. It's whose got the ball and what does that guy do. So it's always a little bit of both on that.

Q. When you're talking about placement for the other four guys, do you offset for quickness, both for the offensive player?
COACH McCAFFERY: It would be quickness. It would be like, who you're playing. Do they have bunch of shooters, all drivers, what a combination, what lineup's on the floor, are they playing five guards; are they playing a traditional lineup. It really would depend.

Q. Some of your guards right now, who would you say are the best on-ball at this point?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think Brady is doing a really good job. Isaiah is pretty solid. I think Jordan's really worked at it. I think he's done a good job.

I thought the first game Connor struggled, but I thought after the second game, he was really good and he's been really good in practice. It's just getting used to it. I think Maishe's got the ability.

Q. We all know about Cordell's weight loss. Have you seen anything from him in these two games that jumps out at you and is what you expected?
COACH McCAFFERY: I just expect him to be better than he was last year. He was good last year. But he's a guy that's smart and he's in great shape physically. He feels good about his body, which honestly hasn't happened in a couple years for him, maybe three years.

So just to see him healthy and quick, and then also, with the knowledge that he gained last year, I think you're seeing a different guy. We all saw him be pretty special last year.

Q. Did you ask him to lose weight?
COACH McCAFFERY: No. I didn't because I didn't think it was a problem. He was very mobile. He was able to play at that weight, I thought pretty well. He moved his feet. He positioned himself well. He didn't seem to labor from a conditioning standpoint. A lot of times guys are really good but they just can't keep up. They are quick enough and they are bouncy enough at a heavy weight, but really none of that stuff ever seemed to affect him.

But he's clearly better, thinner. And I do think in the long haul, it will be much less taxing on his body.

Q. What does Dailey have to show you to maybe get into this rotation? Is he close to doing that?
COACH McCAFFERY: He wasn't until about three weeks before the season, and he's been terrific. And then he played well in the first two games.

So I think his confidence is coming. I think the thing that's always held him back a little bit is he's not been aggressive enough, and you're seeing him be more aggressive.

Some guys, you don't want them to be aggressive. You want them to just be solid. Well, I've been encouraging him to be aggressive since he got here, and I think it's coming as his confidence improves and he's had more success.

The other thing with him, too, is he's healthy now. He was banged up all summer and that's never going to help anything.

Q. Do you look at his physical gifts, he can jump out of the gym, he can really shoot and he's got good quickness. What was kind of holding him back from being a key contributor maybe last year?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think a lot of things. He had some guys ahead of him, and he still does. But you know, to his credit, he's figured out the offense. That takes awhile. He's more aggressive, like I said. He's more physical. He's a little bit stronger than he was. And he's got to continue to get stronger. He's got to continue to be more physical and he's got to be even more of a factor defensively because he has the ability to do that.

When he is active, he's a hard guy to get around, and with his length, he chases guys -- a lot of guys can go at a guy in front of them, but once they start running around, then you know, they lose him and they get on the side of him and they foul him. He's pretty good at that.

And in this league, there's guys that are going be to running around off screens, and you've got to have guys that understand how to get through. Like you have decisions to make: Do you chase; do you go between, and you have to have a feel for where is he going.

If I'm chasing him, that's one thing. But then you're just doing nothing but reacting. You have got to have some anticipation skill if you're going to guard a guy who can really score. I have a sense he's going to fade that flare screen or that down screen, or I'm pretty sure he's going to curl it so I can jump in between and I can meet him. Those kind of things.

Some guys have that innate ability and others don't. They always pick the wrong way and they are always trailing guys and they are always in foul trouble. I think he can be pretty good in that.

Q. Kriener seems like an intense guy.
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, he's a real intense guy. There's times when you try to get him to relax and back off a little bit. But truthfully, I like that about him. He's not afraid of contact. He's a fiercely competitive guy.

I think the positives of that far outweigh any negatives. And there's times when he beats himself up and that's unfortunate because I never want anybody to do that. I want them to have confidence in themselves. If I need to make some corrections, I will, and teaching moments and then we move on. We don't belabor it. We don't keep bringing it up.

And the thing about him is, I'm the one that's kind of putting my arm around him sometimes; it's okay. Typically, the mistakes he makes are aggressive mistakes, and I think that's what you always want. You don't want tentative, passive errors, because that leads to tentative play across the board oftentimes.

But he's not going to make a tentative mistake. He's not afraid to shoot the ball. He's not afraid of physical contact, and he's not afraid of a skirmish, at all. And that's one of the reasons we recruited him. He's a nasty dude. (Laughter).

Q. At Media Day he said he believes he belongs in that starting rotation. He believes he belongs with anyone. How important is it to have a guy like that?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, if you don't have that, you're never going to be any good. You're just not, and he knows that. But I don't have to convince him of that and neither do you. Nobody does. You either have that in you or you're always wondering. He wants a piece of somebody every day. That's what we like.

Q. You played him alongside Pemsl quite a bit. What do you like about that pairing?
COACH McCAFFERY: Both of them, they seem to have really good chemistry together. In the beginning we just kept mixing the teams. But lately, the starting unit that you've seen has been wearing the black shirts and the gold team is wearing the other jerseys, and you try to mix them some because they are not always going to be like that, but a lot of times they are.

Those two have great chemistry. They are both skilled players. They both can score. They can pass it. They can put it on the deck, and they both are unselfish guys. They sort of enjoy playing that way.

The pass that Kriener made on Sunday when he was on the baseline and he reached around and threw a bounce pass to Cordell for a wide open layup, that's special stuff. And you can tell -- Ryan could have scored that if he wanted to. He could have went up and tried to dunk it if he was all about himself.

But he knew the play to make and he made it, made it for his teammate. He was thrilled, and you know, that's what you want and that's what you want to see as a coach every time.

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