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March 19, 2016

Fran McCaffery

Brooklyn, New York

Q. The overriding narrative in Philly is about Nova getting back to the second weekend. It's been a stretch for them. As you look at your career -- Lehigh, Greensboro, Siena -- you were shooting upstream most of those places and now getting things going where you are, you probably wouldn't mind starting your own narrative of getting to that stage too. Are you tired of Jay's narrative?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: You know, I really hadn't paid any attention to it, to be honest with you.

Q. I asked a bunch of your players, and basically, the only thing they seem to know about your playing career is that you used to be called White Magic in Philly. I was just curious, it seems like it's not something you talk about. They all basically said you don't really talk about yourself much. But as a Philly guy and growing up with Jay, playing against Fran, is it kind of a neat weekend for you, on top of being in the tournament, to be going up against a couple of Philly schools like this?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: We have a very unique bond. When you grow up in Philadelphia, it's not just Fran Dunphy and Jay Wright, it's Fran O'Hanlon, you just keep going. There's John Gallagher. There's so many of us. And the group that came before, Paul Westhead and Jack McKinney and those guys. We had great mentors. My college Coach, Bob Weinhauer is here this weekend, spending the weekend with us. It's kind of ironic for me that we wind up here with Temple and Villanova, two programs I have such respect for and grew up watching, grew up fans of.

I spent two days with Rollie Massimino when I was at Greensboro. He helped me with our press. That's the press that we employ. We had great success with that. Dave Duke was on my staff at Lehigh. Now he's on staff at Temple. So it's really a special and unique bond, and I don't talk about my playing days. They don't know anything about it. All those guys remember -- you know, it's funny, when we go to the Final Four, we see all the Philly guys, Horace Owens, that's what they call me. They call me magic. They don't call me Fran. Our guys aren't used to that, but I am.

Q. Can you just explain for those of us who aren't from there how you got the nickname in the first place.
FRAN MCCAFFERY: Yes. I played in the Sunny Hill league, which at the time was a predominantly black league. I was one of the few white guys that played in the league, and I played with Lewis Loyd. We were the same class. T. Banks, Lewis Loyd, Jeffrey Clark. We had a great group of guys, and it was the early stages of AAU. We would actually take that group and go play other towns and so forth. But Lewis Loyd was Black Magic, and Julius Thompson, who was a Philadelphia sportswriter at the time, he gave me that nickname, White Magic, and then Lew and I played together and were good friends and so forth.

What was interesting, because I came from the city, I didn't come -- a lot of the kids that went down to Sunny Hill, they were seeking the best competition, and a lot of those guys were jump shooters, and I wasn't. I was a driver and a slasher and throw behind the back alley-oop passes to Gene Banks and things like that. So I had a different kind of game than what people were expecting to see.

Q. Still on that question of white magic. What I enjoyed was Mike Gesell, when he was asked about your playing career. He said, all I know is what he told me. He never shot the ball. He just dribbled around until he found somebody open. So you were a distributor like he is?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: It was a little harder for us back then because we didn't have a shot clock. Any time you shot the ball and you were a bad shooter, Coach said, we could probably get a better one. That just means you need a better shooter shooting it. But with the shot clock, you've got to shoot it. So he's in a little different spot.

Q. The end of the game yesterday, if that doesn't define Adam Woodbury, I don't know what does, always being in the right place at the right time, or at least seemingly.
FRAN MCCAFFERY: The thing about it is -- and I think you're absolutely right. He's always in the right place at the right time. He's physical. But the thing I think defines him the most, if you coach him, is intellect. You remember the Indiana game, we're down three, we shoot a three, we don't make it, he rebounds the ball with 2.7, 2.5, whatever it was, immediately calls time-out so we can run an inbounds play and shoot a three. We need three. How many times have you seen guys grab it and lay it in and there's .8 and you're down one. You've got no chance.

So yesterday he knows Mike's driving the ball. They were switching. They were pressing up. So Mike puts up a shot. I'm going to get in there, and I'm going to tip it in. We don't have to worry about defensive balance. There's not going to be any time. So just go back and get it.

So that's -- yes, he is always in the right place at the right time, but there's a reason why. He knows where to go. I think that's what makes him special.

Q. Fran, both teams here are looked on as being very polished, sophisticated offensive teams. But do you think that really defense may be the thing that wins this game?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: I think that's a legitimate observation because I think -- you know, when you watch Villanova play, they distribute the ball and take good shots as well as any team that I've scouted on film this year. But I still think the defense in many ways can be their identity. They're going to be in your space. They're going to be switching it up into you and pressuring the pass, pressuring the ball, fronting the post, fighting the post. And a lot of times you get into those kind of games this time of year, and it does come down to who can get stops because getting baskets is often really difficult. We found that out yesterday. They came easy early, and it didn't seem like we could get anything going late. So we just had to keep getting stops. So it could be more of the same.

Q. In terms of the defensive quality that some people referred to as junkyard dog, do you think that you guys have as much of that as Villanova?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: I think, when our defense is at its best, it's not only that. It's one thing to have junkyard dogs, but you've got to have five defenders working as one. There's got to be an understanding -- okay, are we pressing? Are we man? Are we zone? Where are their shooters? Where are their drivers? Who's in the game? So there's got to be a toughness, but also a clear understanding and a clear picture of what we have to do together to stop them from scoring and give them one shot.

So a lot of times people get caught up, they're just tougher, they're tough, you've got to be tough to get a stop. You've got to be tough, and you've got to be smart. You can't have one without the other.

Q. Fran, including your guy Jarrod, there are a half dozen players from Iowa city and Cedar Rapids with prominent roles in this NCAA Tournament playing for teams that are still alive. When you got to Iowa, did it surprise you the quality of high school talent that was nearby? What struck you about it?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: It didn't surprise me because I had watched Iowa AAU basketball for many years. I started with the Martin brothers and with Hank Huddleson, he had great teams. He started the All Iowa Attack Program, Barnstormer Program, Kingdom Hoops. So when you're on the AAU circuit and you get to see really good players.

I saw Matt Gatens play when I was at Siena and knew how good he was. I had recruited the State of Iowa when I was at Notre Dame. Recruited Jess Settles, recruited Raef LaFrentz. We had Kirk Hinrich on campus. It was not a surprise that I saw Ryan Bowen play. I saw Mac McCausland's team back in the day. They were really good. So I wasn't surprised at all, and it was one of the things that really excited me about the position, quite frankly.

Q. I was wondering if there's a team that you've played that's similar to Villanova that you look at as an analogy to, or do you even look at it like that in general?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: I think there are similarities to various teams. I would say Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, there's qualities at all of those teams that are similar to Villanova. But I do think Villanova is, quite frankly, unique to anybody else that we played.

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