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December 10, 2010

Fran McCaffery

IOWA – 72

COACH McCAFFERY: I just want to open by congratulating Fred. I think he had his team ready. I like his team. They really play together.
I think for us, even though we lost, I think there were a lot of good things in this game for our team, obviously some things that to me that are disappointing, not the least of which is we seem to continue to have the same struggle over and over. I think that is what is disconcerting to me. When another team goes on a run, we tend to quick shoot the ball, and we did not do a good enough job on Christopherson.
It's my fault. I'm not blaming anybody else. We wanted to do a better job on him. We've seen him already make seven threes in a game. You'd like to think that we would be better able to prohibit him from having a similar performance. But when it's all said and done, I think you have to credit him. He made the shots and he made the plays, and we did not.

Q. Last minute or so there was a play where the ball went out of bounds, you were down by two. What was the explanation from the official on that play?
COACH McCAFFERY: I'm not sure I remember what his explanation was, to be honest with you. I mean, he said something. I wasn't hearing him at that particular time.

Q. How do you work on something like free-throw shooting in practice?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, the ironic thing is they make them in practice. We chart every free throw from the opening day of practice. We shoot a ton. We focus and we concentrate. Occasionally we'll take somebody who we think is shooting it a little flat, something minor, not major surgery.
So I think what you're seeing is something that is obviously frustrating to all of us, most importantly the players. I mean, Melsahn Basabe is typically a really good free throw shooter. He's 78 the whole time I've ever known him. He is a guy that is going to get fouled. We're going to go to him. He's attacking the basket. He's getting second shots. He's getting fouled. He's got to make them, and he will.

Q. Talk about the minutes you got from Brommer tonight.
COACH McCAFFERY: Brommer was great tonight. And he's been getting better. I've been really impressed with him, his work ethic, his determination. It was good to see him have some fun tonight, it really was.

Q. Eric May seemed to struggle a little bit.
COACH McCAFFERY: Eric was sideways tonight. But he gives you great effort. He was trying. He kind of got off to a slow start and he was sideways the whole night. He just kept trying to work his way out of it. I really have respect for him doing that. He's our guy and I stuck with him. He was frustrated, but he'll be fine.

Q. Nice to see Matt get off to the good start.
COACH McCAFFERY: It was. Then in the second half, of course, they were up on him. We were trying to go to him.
The thing about Matt that's unique, he's not a selfish player. If he's not open, he won't shoot the ball. I wanted him a couple times to let it rip, shot fake, one dribble, pull up, just be more aggressive. For a guy that started the game the way he did, I would have like to see him take 20 shots, not 10. I talked to him about that after the game. Hopefully he'll get more and more aggressive.
But he's a guy, when you look at his line at the end of the game, he's efficient. He doesn't turn the ball over. He makes a good percentage. He makes his free throws. He's rock solid. I try to tell him his role for this team, he's got to be a little bit more aggressive. You're going to miss some shots. I'm going to live with that. So that's just going to be an adjustment for him.

Q. Can you talk about the atmosphere in here tonight. Haven't seen it like this for several years.
COACH McCAFFERY: I thought it was tremendous and I felt we needed all of it because we had a stretch early when we were struggling. We had a stretch in the second half where we couldn't buy one. We had a couple chances, we were down 9, 10, had a chance, that thing could have gone to 18, 20, the way they were playing. I think the energy level we were able to get from the crowd was important. We were able to keep our wits about us to a point.

Q. Were you disappointed in the way you were identifying Christopherson once he got hot like that in the second half?
COACH McCAFFERY: I was. Now, granted, some of it was transition off of our misses. You're trying to get to him and you can't get to him. He does a really good job of sprinting deep. So it makes you have a long run to get there. And it wasn't like we didn't show it to them on film, wasn't like we didn't walk through it. We were trying to get back, but Garrett is pretty good. He's got it going in the middle of the floor. He's herky-jerky in there. You're trying to stop him from getting all the way to the rim, they got you spread out. That's what you should do.
There were just really a couple times where I thought, like one time we left him, one time we were right there, we let him get the shot off. The thing about a guy like him is, you have to keep him both feet above the line and stay into him. He's not a stand-still shooter. He can put the ball on the deck. But you're better off -- what's he shooting, 40 something inside and 59 from three, so you want to chase him inside, if you can.

Q. After you lose the lead, the quick shots, the turnovers, is that something that the freshmen maybe just have to learn to play in that situation?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think that's legit. Melsahn, Devyn, Zach were in the middle of it. Eric Mays, sophomore, he was in the middle of it. But so was Jarryd Cole. I think 13 turnovers in the second half against a team that wasn't impressive, that's too many.
I'm not blaming the players. I'm saying maybe we could have done a better job of coming up with an offensive set that might have worked better. The problem with offensive sets is they're set up to shoot the basketball in a relatively short fashion. So you run a set, you're going to somebody, if it's not there, you grind it a little bit. But we were just going.
It was a little bit of inexperience, a little bit of nerves, I think, and the situation. We were trying to get it all back at once, which is what you try to guard against.
They kept fighting. I was proud of them for that.

Q. As you reflect on the first 10 games, what do you like about the team and where do you think they need to improve?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I kind of said it. We have to be able to go into a game and at least limit the other team's top two players. Right now we're not doing that. Maybe we got to come up with better schemes, maybe we have to change who's guarding those guys. You can't let a guy like Christopherson come in here and get 30, okay? I'll take responsibility for that. So at the same time it's those stretches where we try to get it all back at once. That we can talk about. That we can get straightened out.
It's a matter of having a little bit of patience. We were playing like there was 1 minute 30 when there was 9 minutes and 20 seconds. That's a lifetime. It was only a four-possession game. No need to rush. You got to go two by two by two. But we have to go back and get a stop.
They played fast enough. It's not like you need to panic. They are not going to come down and run the whole clock down. They'll give you a chance if you defend them correctly to get back in it, and we got back in it anyway. We were right there. That call goes the other way, we've got the ball down two. So you're right there.
I think we have some time now to work on those areas a little more specifically. We've got a ton of games coming really quickly, which I think is hard for a young team.

Q. (Question regarding Basabe.)
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, he was really active. I think that's kind of what we expected when we got him, that he's going to be able to impact a game that way. It's unfortunate, the last two games he could have had -- pretty good line, 12, 14 and 7 blocks. He almost had a triple-double. Last game he was tremendous. But he wasn't making his free throws. He feels bad about that. We'll get that straightened out for him. He was on his way to having a 20, 14, 10 block game. That's incredible.
He's right there. I think he has to trust himself as a scorer. He was never really a scorer in high school. He was a shot blocker, a runner, a dunker. We're trying to expand his game. We told him we would do that when we recruited him. You've seen him hit some shots. He hit some jumpers against Wake Forest. He's a guy that can score. He's got a good stroke. He can handle the ball. He's got to trust himself a little bit more with the handle.

Q. Overall what did you think of the team's transition defense tonight?
COACH McCAFFERY: Not what it needed to be. It just wasn't. They run on makes and misses. For the most part we got back on makes with a couple of exceptions. But then in the second half, a running team like that, if you miss four, five, six, seven possessions in a row, I don't know how many it was, but it seemed like it was about that many, they're going to get out and they're going to get space, and they're going to find shooters. When you have a lead, you're comfortable shooting the ball. We just have to make sure that that doesn't happen again.

Q. What do you say to young players like Mel and Devyn?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I talked to Devyn. I said, You have to understand how to manage the clock. We're down 4. We don't need a 3 there. Don't need to jam it to Matt. Take the ball to the basket. 14 seconds, you go lay it in. There's 10. We're down 2, we call a timeout. Now we can steal it, we can foul them, still come down, and if they don't make both, we can come down and win it. But the idea, you feel like you need 3 when you're down 4, understanding that.
There again, we brought him in here as a shooting guard, as a small forward. He's playing point guard. He's in the end, he's got the ball. Granted, we had a small lineup out there. But Melsahn, I'm really proud of him. Kid played his tail off in 31 minutes. Gave me everything he had. Made some mistakes. All of our freshmen made some mistakes. When you look at it, Devyn's got 7 points and 4 rebounds, Melsahn has 12, 14 and 7. Pretty good day for those three guys.
Thank you.

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