McCaffery turned Siena into a mid-major power before taking the job at Iowa following last season. Even though the Hawkeyes have lost four in a row, including Saturday's 75-72 overtime defeat at home to Michigan, McCaffery still feels good about his team.
"It's not that far," he said of the Hawkeyes' quest to become a contender in the Big Ten. "We are right there. I've said that from the beginning. I've been in both places before. And I know what it's like to be at the bottom of our league and play the first place team in our league, lose on a tip in at the buzzer in overtime and miss the last shot in a one point game. I know what it's like to be in first place and struggle to beat the last place team, both at home and on the road."
Iowa is 10-17 overall and 3-11 in the conference, but McCaffery would prefer to look at other numbers. Three of the Hawkeyes' last four losses have been by three points apiece. Two have been in overtime. McCaffery believes that playing tight games will provide a positive for the program as Iowa moves forward.
Center/forward Jarryd Cole is the only senior getting significant playing time. The core of the team will return and McCaffery is excited about the freshmen who will join the program next season.
"We got a lot of people back," McCaffery said. "We got some good players coming and we'll be fine."
While McCaffery has said several times that he doesn't believe in moral victories, he's obviously trying to keep his team's confidence from sagging. The Hawkeyes don't play again until Saturday's game at Illinois.
"You give the kids credit for fighting all the way to the end," he said after the close loss to Michigan.