NCAA Seattle 3rd Round: Iowa

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffrey and players Mike Gesell and Aaron White talk about the Hawkeyes 87-68 loss to Gonzaga in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle...

THE MODERATOR: We'll go straight to questions, please.

Q. Coach, in the first half they were so efficient offensively, gave you so many things to try to prepare for, and even when your you're guarding the line, the pick and roll, what made it so difficult to defend this team, especially in the first half?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, they have weapons any way you look at it. You can trap the ball screen, they got shooters, they can throw it inside. They can drive the ball. They share the ball. They're willing passers. 20 assists on 32 field goals. As hard as it is, I don't know that our ball pressure was what it needed to be. It's difficult, because they're swinging the ball side to side, they're moving it. It's not like there's one guy with the ball and you can pressure him. It's got to be kind of continuous. There's continuous screening action with space, and they got seven-footers. And I thought we worked hard. We obviously got down into a hole, and you don't want to do that. They started getting comfortable shooting the ball, and that was unfortunate.

Q. Mike and Aaron, is this as difficult a team as you've played, as far as defending all five spots on the floor? Maybe Wisconsin would be similar?
MIKE GESELL: No, they're a very hard team to guard. It's hard to compare teams. Every game's a little bit different. They have weapons at all five positions. They got a very good point guard, they got bigs, and they got wings that can shoot it. They got all the pieces. So, they're a tough team to guard and a tough matchup.

AARON WHITE: I think he said it all.

Q. Coach, how difficult was it to deal with Gary Bell defensively and everything that he does for that team?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, obviously he's a really good defender, but I don't think he's the only guy that was defending. They defend well. They're physical, they have got length, they're tough to score on at the rim. There's a lot of things that they do that make it hard for teams to score. But we shot 47 percent, which isn't a horrible number. The problem for us was at the other end of the floor.

Q. Coach, when a team's shooting like that, they were uncanny from 7 out of the first 10 from three and never cooled off. Sometimes you just have to put your hand up and say the best defense in the world isn't going to work tonight?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, what you do is you want to keep working, so you're trying to say, okay, what can we do to get that percentage down, get a couple stops, get some transition opportunities. We had it to 11. We had a clean look at a three in transition, that goes in might have changed some things. We felt if we could have got it to single digits, that might have been something that cooled them off as much as our defensive intensity. It's easy to shoot -- when you're up 15, it's easy to make shots, and we put ourselves in that position.

Q. Coach and then Aaron White, big picture for your first full recruiting class that you recruited, brought to Iowa, took Iowa from a 10-, 11-win program to Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. What's this senior class mean to you, Coach, and then Aaron, kind of looking back at your career?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you know, any time a coach takes over a program, usually it's for a reason. We were struggling as a program. Attendance was down, we weren't winning games, we weren't playing in the post-season; that's well documented. So, we come in with a plan, you hire a staff, but ultimately what you have to be able to do is convince really good players that things are going to be different. This is how we're going to do it, this is why it works for you, this is why you fit, this is our plan. They ultimately have to believe in you, because they're not looking at it and saying, okay, that team is going to be in the tournament every year. They have to decide we're going to make that program a NCAA Tournament team. So I think that's the thing that impresses me the most about this class is they were willing to, to some degree, believe in me and my staff but I think more so believe in themselves that when we're there, we're going to go to the NCAA Tournament, because we're going to prepare and we're going to work and we're going to recruit people in the next class, which they did, and then the next class, which they did. And that's how you build a program. This team, without question, is the most together group that I've had. They love each other. There's so much scrutiny now. I mean, every game everybody's talking about your NCAA chances and what's wrong. We lost two games in a row. We lost an overtime game on the road in the Big Ten. You would have felt we lost 20 in a row. Okay? So it takes tremendous confidence and belief in one another to turn around and go win six games on the road in this league. That's really hard to do. You don't do that without unbelievable character in that locker room. I'll be honest with you, that's not coaching; that is character and that is belief in each other and that is leadership, and leadership started for us with the senior class.

AARON WHITE: Yeah, I think it's hard to kind of look back 20 minutes after the season ends on my career and our senior class career. I'm going to piggyback off everything that Coach said. Obviously to play with Gabe and Josh, that was some of the best time in my life. Yeah, it's well documented, we weren't very good when we first got here. We just -- every day we just went to work, fighting, for one another, with one another. That's the thing I'm going to remember. Like Coach said, we really love each other. We're really like a family. Those kind of memories are going to last forever. It's so hard to talk about right after your season ends. You're so disappointed at this outcome, how we didn't play tonight, but you look back over the four years, and what Coach has given to me and given to guys on this team is something amazing. I'm just so thankful for the opportunity.

Q. Fran, you guys had a 17-5 deficit in points off turnovers in the first half. What made it so difficult to get back when Gonzaga got the ball?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I think we were scrambling a little bit. We were back, but we didn't have it put together. There's two parts to transition defense. So we were back, but we didn't get matched up. We didn't locate shooters. And that's where the various weapons that they have makes it difficult. That's why they run, that's why we run, so we can take advantage of those situations. And they took advantage of us there.

THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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