MANCHESTER, Ia. – Iowa’s basketball team had just defeated Stony Brook in a second-round NIT game, played in front of a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd.
“Everyone was like, ‘Boy, I wish we had one more home game,’ ” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I wanted a road game.”
McCaffery got his wish, a third-round game against a Virginia team that had won 19 straight home games.
“I wanted to go on the road and have to beat somebody like Virginia,” McCaffery said. “To me, that was the challenge our team needed. We needed to beat a team of that caliber and, literally, earn our way to New York. It was the best thing that could have happened to us.”
The Hawkeyes won that game, 75-64. A team that had struggled to win on the road all season broke though, a moment that may well set the table for a highly anticipated 2013-14 season.
McCaffery spoke Wednesday about the season to come at the Northeast Iowa I-Club, saying he wasn’t likely to redshirt anyone in his deep rotation and that 6-6 Devyn Marble likely will be the team’s primary point guard.
Iowa’s stock has risen since the season ended. Part of it was due to its five-game postseason run, and the fact that Iowa loses only Eric May from a 25-win team. And part of it is due to June’s NBA Draft.
Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo of Indiana have entered that draft. So have Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway of Michigan, and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State.
“I hope people look at us as a team that has a chance to be in contention,” McCaffery said. “Some of the preseason prognostications have us ranked (nationally). I welcome the challenge. Now we’re in a position where we have to go out and perform that way.”
McCaffery calls the preseason Top 25 attention “nothing but positive. You’ve got to get your name out there. Recruits have to see it. And fans have to see it.”
McCaffery spent last weekend recruiting in Minneapolis and Los Angeles. He was in Chicago to see a prospect Wednesday, before flying into Manchester to speak to the Northeast Iowa I-Club. He’ll be recruiting in Kansas City and Virginia this weekend.
“Recruiting is a little bit different now,” McCaffery said. “We’re able to talk to players on a different level, quite honestly.”
As for his 2013-14 Iowa team, McCaffery calls Marble an NBA player. Look for Marble to remain at point guard next season, the spot he played when Iowa was at its best down the stretch.
“That’s probably where it’s headed,” McCaffery said. “I’m not going to decide that today. It could change.”
McCaffery sees no issues with his team remaining focused, in light of their taste of success last season.
“They’re too hungry,” McCaffery said. “They’re all fighting for playing time. They take great pride in advancing the program, and being relevant on a national scale.”
McCaffery used a 10-player rotation last season. The math will be more complicated this year with the subtraction of May and the addition of Jarrod Uthoff, Peter Jok and Kyle Meyer. Barring injury, McCaffery said no one will redshirt.
“I’m a firm believer that it will work itself out,” McCaffery said. “It just will. There might be a night or two when a guy is not 100 percent happy, but they’re such good kids. They really do pull for each other. They like each other. And they want to win.”
McCaffery sees his depth as a blessing in disguise.
“On any given night it could be somebody else, which really makes us hard to prepare for,” McCaffery said. “How do you scout us?”
Iowa finished sixth in the Big Ten last season, but didn’t go to the NCAA Tournament because of a weak non-conference schedule.
Iowa will play in the Great Alaska Shootout next season. It will meet Drake in the Big Four Classic in Des Moines, and play at Iowa State. There’s also a home game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. McCaffery said talks are still taking place with a BCS school about a home-and-home series.
“We’re trying to upgrade, but you still have to be sensible,” McCaffery said. “We’ll still play some guarantee games.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball