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March 20, 2016

Fran McCaffery

Mike Gesell

Nicholas Baer

Brooklyn, New York

Villanova - 87, Iowa - 68

Q. This is for Mike. Congratulations on an outstanding career at Iowa and a great season. What was the most fun about being a senior on the Iowa basketball team?
MIKE GESELL: First of all, thank you for that. I had so many memories throughout my entire career. Just being a senior out there, just enjoying every day and how close our team was this year. We had 17 guys that really came together this year, and it made all the success that we had throughout the season that much more fun when you're playing alongside guys that you feel like they're your brothers.

So it was a blast, and it's a season that I'll never forget.

Q. I know it's difficult after a loss like this, but what did you find most impressive about Villanova in that first half?
MIKE GESELL: I'd say they did a very good job of moving the ball, and I think we didn't come out with the intensity defensively that we needed against a team like that. They're a team that is very unselfish. They just play within themselves. We turned around a little bit the second half, but I was most impressed with the first half.

NICHOLAS BAER: Just to echo mike, I would say they shared the ball very well. Also, their offense was very, very good. I thought they did a nice job of getting into us and pressuring us, but like Mike said, I thought they shared the ball really well and that they pressed us well.

Q. This is for Mike. I'm sure after four years, your thoughts kind of circle all the way around from when you came to Iowa now that you're leaving. What are you going to take away from your experiences at Iowa and how you helped change the program and better the program over your career?
MIKE GESELL: I think there's too much just to put it into one answer. I look at the player I am now compared to when I came here and the person I am now. I've improved in so many ways. The coaching staff has really helped me grow as a person. The strides that we made every single year was a lot of fun and a lot of fun to just be a part of.

We have a bright future here at Iowa. We have a lot of young guys that play the game the right way, and they're a close knit group. I'm going to be very excited to continue to watch them next year and throughout the years.

Q. Obviously, it's disappointing to be eliminated today, but can you characterize the season as a success, getting to the NCAA and winning a game?
MIKE GESELL: Yeah, you pretty much play your whole season to make this tournament, and obviously you're competing for a conference tournament, you're competing for a conference championship, but you're also trying to make this tournament. It's a very hard task just to make this tournament, let alone win a game here.

So I'm very proud of my guys, the way we handled ourselves all season. The season's a grind. There's a lot of ups and downs during the season, and we kept plugging along, kept working hard every day, and getting better every single day. It's a huge accomplishment because every team in this tournament is a very good team.

NICHOLAS BAER: It's a great honor to play in the NCAA Tournament, and it was goal of ours from the beginning of the season. It's sad we had to lose today, but I really enjoyed playing with these seniors, and I'm going to miss playing with them.

Q. Hi, guys, congratulations. Can you just talk about your head coach and what he means to this team, what he means to you guys as individuals.
MIKE GESELL: Coach McCaffery means a lot to me. I grew up in Nebraska, so I wasn't even thinking about coming to Iowa when I was younger, and Coach McCaffery got the job, and the first thing he did was come up and see me at my high school. He really had a vision, a vision for myself and a vision for our team and how we'd have a chance to really rebuild a program. Iowa was once one of the premier programs in the country, and we had been down a little bit in recent years. So he was selling me on that vision.

I knew there was going to be something special here. I knew the guys he was bringing in, and I knew he's had success at so many different schools. I wanted to play for Coach because he's a guy that just gives you the ultimate confidence as a player, and I knew that he would allow me to grow and allow me to get better every single year.

That's what was the best part about making the decision to come to Iowa, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

NICHOLAS BAER: In pretty sharp contrast to Mike, all I ever wanted to do was come to University of Iowa. I grew up in Betttendorf, Iowa where there's Tiger Hawk bumper stickers on just about every car. Coach McCaffery gave me an opportunity to walk on here and gave me the opportunity to play here, which is all I ever wanted was to wear a Hawkeye jersey. So I can't thank Coach McCaffery enough for giving me the opportunity to achieve my dream.

Q. Fran, you played some really good teams this year. Where does Villanova kind of fit in there? You've seen them before, but now after playing them, how do they fit in, and how far do you think you could take this? I mean, some type of assessment.
FRAN MCCAFFERY: I really think they can go a long way. They're a really difficult team to guard. A lot of times, really talented offensive teams plays defense in spurts, and they don't. They play defense equally as well as they play offense, and I think you heard it pretty clearly from our guys that they've been impressed watching film and then playing against Villanova, how they share the basketball. You've got a lot of really talented guys. You've got a lot of guys with strong egos.

But it's clear to me that, as a group, Jay has got those guys committed to one thing, and that's playing together and winning. I think that's evident in their success over the years. It's not this year. And it is this year, but it's last year, the year before, the year before. There's a winning culture there that says a lot about the character of the individuals on that team.

I think, if you possess that kind of character, then you have a real legitimate shot to advance in this tournament because that's what you need. Now, it also helps when you have shot makers and you have some depth and you have some athleticism and some size. I mean, they've got all the pieces that you have to have, but there's a lot more to it. So I would say you look at the really good teams that we played this year, so many of them in our league, and we played a lot out of the league. We played Notre Dame. We played Dayton. We played Michigan State. You go right on down the line. All the teams in the league, Maryland. Villanova is a team that I look as an elite team, but I look at them more as an elite program, I think, than anything else.

Q. Fran, late in the first half, when they really started to make their run, what was happening defensively that was enabling them to get some open shots and makes?
FRAN MCCAFFERY: They -- our close-outs weren't as crisp as they needed to be because they're a tough group to close out to because they'll rip a drive on you. So we closed out a little bit short, and they were making threes. We had a couple uncharacteristic turnovers that led to easy transition layups, and that was a big part of it as well.

We didn't get to the offensive glass in the first -- we did in the second half. In the first half, we didn't get there enough, which was critical because we didn't shoot it well enough. Sometimes if you don't go, if you're shooting it well, that's one thing. But I'm a little bit more pleased with how we played in the second half in terms of getting to the glass, taking care of the ball, and executing our offense. But that said, we still shot 2 for 12 in the second half from three.

It's hard to come back. You've got to make threes. We had good looks at it from three. If we could have made a few, maybe it would have been a little bit different.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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