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McCaffery’s brother praises coach, Iowa and the fans

[ 2 ] June 24, 2012 |

NCAA rules prohibited Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery from attending the Prime Time League on Sunday, but his family still was represented.

Fran’s older brother Jack McCaffery is in town for about two weeks and was part of the standing-room only crowd that squeezed into the North Liberty Community Center to watch the two PTL games.

Jack was accompanied by Fran’s oldest son, 13-year old Connor McCaffery. They sat in the front row and watched Iowa junior-to-be forward Zach McCabe score 22 points to lead his team to a 93-82 victory over a team that included fellow Hawkeyes Aaron White, Eric May and incoming freshman guard Anthony Clemmons.

“The passion of the fans is immense and the attention the team has is great,” Jack McCaffery said.

Jack’s brother is largely responsible for reigniting the passion among the Iowa fans.

Fran McCaffery took over an Iowa program in late March 2010 that had just suffered through its third consecutive losing season.

The Hawkeyes also finished with a losing record (11-20) in Fran’s first season, but then improved to 18-17 this past season. In addition to winning seven more games than the previous season, Iowa also won a game in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2006 and a game in the National Invitation Tournament for the first time since 2003.

Jack said his brother is doing what he expected he would do after being hired to rebuild the Iowa program.

Fran McCaffery already had rebuilt programs at Lehigh, North Carolina-Greensboro and Siena before coming to Iowa.

“It’s been great, but no surprise because you knew if they gave him an opportunity that he’s going to turn everything right,” said Jack McCaffery, who is a sports columnists for the Delaware Daily County Times newspaper in Pennsylvania. “Everywhere he goes, he turns things around.

“It needed a little work here. And it’s on its way. There is still work to be done. But they got to the NIT last year and he’s got very good players in here.”

Jack and Fran work in professions that don’t always see eye-to-eye. However, Jack said Fran is accepting of the media because he knows so many reporters, either through his job or through Jack’s job.

“We’ve had a lot of mutual friends over the years,” Jack said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in the coaching business, and he’s got a lot of the friends in the (media) business. We’ve always spent a lot of time with people on both sides of that.

“I think he’s real good with the press because he knows all of us. He’s known us forever.”

Jack said the pieces are in place for his brother to thrive at Iowa. Jack raved about the new practice facility and the overall commitment to winning.

“I think the campus is beautiful and the on-campus arena can compete with anything,” Jack said. “I’ve covered sports for a long time so I know. I’ve covered Super Bowls. I’ve covered big-time pro basketball.

“The atmosphere is really second to none. And the new practice facility, I’ve been to a bunch of them and I’ve been to some NBA facilities that aren’t as nice as that. Now, I’m not naïve to know that other colleges don’t have the same thing. But the ability is here to win from what they have built.”

Jack said his brother is committed to the Iowa program for the long haul. Jack described Fran’s situation as being ideal on and off the court.

“The neighborhood he lives in is absolutely spectacular, and it’s very close to work, and it’s very close to the campus,” Jack said. “It’s great for the kids.

“They absolutely love it here, and I love coming here.”

<PS.FRT7.187><TH>ENEMY COLORS: Jarrod Uthoff has left the Wisconsin basketball program and will transfer to Iowa for the fall semester as a walk-on.

But he hasn’t left everything behind in Madison, Wis.

Uthoff wore the same kind of red and white tennis shoes that he had as a Badger for his first two games in the PTL.

“We’re giving him crap,” McCabe said. “I might have to lend him some.”

Uthoff plays on the same PTL team with McCabe and with Iowa shooting guard Josh Oglesby and incoming 7-1 freshman center Adam Woodbury. Uthoff finished with 12 points and nine rebounds Sunday after recording a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds in the opening night of the PTL on Tuesday.

McCabe said he looks forward to competing against Uthoff in practice next season. Uthoff will work with the scout team next season while he sits out under NCAA transfer rules.

“Just the size he has and he’s quicker than he looks and he can create his own shot,” McCabe said of Uthoff. “He has a high basketball IQ.

“I think me and him and him and Aaron going at it every day, he’ll get better and he’ll make us better.”

Woodbury, meanwhile, recorded his first double-double in the PTL by scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds Sunday. His biggest problem was at the free-throw line, where he missed all five of his attempts.

White scored 22 points in a losing effort Sunday, with half of his points coming on free throws.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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