IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa offers the latest proof of coach Fran McCaffery’s ability to rebuild basketball programs.
This is McCaffery’s fourth head coaching position at the NCAA Division I level. He inherited a team coming off a losing record at all four stops. He got to 20 victories in his third season at all four schools, and played in the NCAA or NIT tournament.
“Every job is different,” said McCaffery, whose 21-12 Iowa team hosts Indiana State, 18-14, in a first-round NIT game Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “There is not one answer. You’ve got to have a great staff. You’ve got to recruit players with character. You have to have administrations that try to support you and help you.
You have to hold players accountable. And you have to coach them and care about them off the court. You’ve got to make sure they’re doing what they need to do academically. It’s all of those things together.”
McCaffery has avoided quick fixes at all four stops.
“You’re building a basketball program, not a basketball team,” McCaffery said. “That’s how you build a program. You get the right kind of people in there. And then what they do is help each other, through adversity, or an attitude issue. It’s so much better if they take care of it internally instead of me taking care of everything.”
McCaffery said university administration also plays a huge role in rebuilding a broken program.
“If you have really good leadership within the program, you’re going to be alright,” McCaffery said. “I’ve had really good administrations wherever I’ve been. Even though they weren’t winning when I got there, I had people who understood what we needed to do and were willing to help me. That’s what’s happened here. (Athletic director) Gary Barta’s been great. President (Sally) Mason has been great. (Associate athletic director) Fred Mims has been terrific. That’s what you need.”
One more thing worth noting. The year after he left, Lehigh, North Carolina-Greensboro and Siena all had losing records.
Here’s a look at the first three seasons of McCaffery’s four rebuilding jobs (he spent 1988 to 1999 as an assistant at Notre Dame):
Record the year before McCaffery arrived – 12-19 in 1984-85
1985-86 – 13-15
1986-87 – 15-14
1987-88 – 21-10 (NCAA)
Record the year before McCaffery arrived – 7-20 in 1998-99
1999-2000 – 15-13
2000-01 – 19-12 (NCAA)
2001-02 – 20-11 (NIT)
Record the year before McCaffery arrived – 6-24 in 2004-05
2005-06 – 15-13
2006-07 – 20-12
2007-08 – 23-11 (NCAA)
Record the year before McCaffery arrived – 10-21 in 2009-10
2010-11 – 11-20
2011-12 – 18-17 (NIT)
2012-13 – 21-12 (NIT)
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball