Listen to Fran McCaffery's complete teleconference here:
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Fran and Margaret McCaffery hold Notre Dame in high regard. The former built his coaching resume in South Bend while the latter starred for the Irish women's team two decades ago. It's also where the husband and wife met.
In March, when the Notre Dame women's team played at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the NCAA Tournament, the McCafferys could be seen mingling with Irish fans in the stands. They've maintained ties to the school.
Fran recruited and coached Martin Inglesby and Harold Swanagan in South Bend when he was a Notre Dame assistant (1988-99). They're on the current Irish staff.
It makes for an interesting dynamic Tuesday night when Notre Dame comes to Iowa to take on head coach Fran McCaffery's Hawkeyes in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge (8:15 p.m. CT, ESPN2).
"(Margaret) had a great experience at Notre Dame. She loves that institution. She's still very close with Coach (Muffet) McGraw and the women's program there," Fran said. "But in terms of (Tuesday's) game it won't have a different impact than any other game. She recognizes how good they are and it's a prominent opponent, but she's a Hawkeye through and through."
A raucous crowd is expected in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to welcome the Irish (5-1). Matt Weitzel from Iowa Sports Information said there were about 230 tickets remaining for the game as of Monday morning.
The loudest noise Notre Dame made this early season was for a 83-70 home loss to Indiana State. All six of the Irish's game have been played at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend.
Meanwhile, No. 23 Iowa (7-1) is coming off of a second-place finish in the competitive Battle 4 Atlantis tournament last weekend. The Hawkeyes appear to be the more heavily tested of these teams.
Notre Dame ranks second nationally in assists per game (21.0) and 29th in field goal percentage (51.0). Senior guard Jerian Grant (19.5 PPG) leads four players averaging double figures in scoring.
"It's always harder to guard a player of that caliber when he's got so many other weapons around him," McCaffery said. "This team shoots the ball as well from three-point range (52 for 122) as anybody we'll see. They take care of the ball. They move the ball and they shoot open shots. They typically make them. So, it's really going to test our defense."
Senior Roy Devyn Marble averages 16.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game to lead Iowa. Junior Aaron White sits at 13.0 points and 6.4 boards a contest but struggled to get into the offensive flow at times in the Bahamas, taking just one first-half shot in two of the three games there.
"He's as involved as he wants to be," McCaffery said. "He's got the green light to shoot the ball whenever he wants to shoot the ball. We're running transition to motion; he can take 20 shots if he wants to as far as I'm concerned."
Translation: The coach would like to see his small forward be more aggressive on offense. It's likely being addressed in practice and we'll see how it plays out on Tuesday.
It's been an intriguing schedule this season for McCaffery, who played against his alma mater, Penn, and Villanova, another Big Five school he grew up watching as a Philadelphia native. Maybe those match-ups desensitized him for the meeting with Notre Dame.
"It has been an interesting year from that perspective," the head Hawkeye said. "What happens in this profession is when you're coaching at an institution, that's where your focus is. I recognized that there will be two guys on that bench that I recruited and coached. (Irish head coach) Mike (Brey) is someone I have an unbelievable respect for and really consider him a very good friend and I have a lot of memories there.
"But that won't impact our preparation in any way. We're excited for the opportunity."