Notebook: McCaffery Going Deep Again

Our Hawkeye Insider Notebook from Iowa basketball media day on Thursday includes items on Coach Fran McCaffery's plan to use a deep rotation again, expectations for newcomers Trey Dickerson, Dom Uhl and Brady Ellingson, the players access to Twitter and who could start at guard.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - One of the criticisms voiced during Iowa's late-season collapse last winter was that Fran McCaffery used too many players in his rotation. The coach didn't think it factored into his team's slide. In fact, he saw it as a positive.

"I don't think we ran out of gas.  We got away from defending the way we should be defending.  Was that fatigue?  It shouldn't be, because we were playing 11," McCaffery said Thursday at his team's annual media day.

The coach plans to employ a deep rotation again.

"I don't expect it to be a short bench like eight.  It will be closer to 11," he said.

The Hawkeyes return eight players who logged at least nine minutes a game last season. They add junior college point guard Trey Dickerson and freshmen Dominique Uhl and Brady Ellingson.

"It's a combination of things.  Sometimes you say is it too cumbersome, is it fair to everybody?  At the same time you have guys who deserve playing time," McCaffery said.

"As the season got down, towards the end, we trimmed some minutes from some guys.  They were still playing.  You look back and say, okay, what do we have 11 guys averaging at least 10 minutes a game, that's rare. We have 11 players capable of doing that again." 

UHL TIDE HIGH: With the departure of Kyle Meyer, the inability to land a JUCO forward and graduation losses, Uhl appears headed to a key role behind Aaron White and Jarrod Uthoff at forward.

"If you look at it, Dom Uhl has to play a lot.  We lose (Melsahn) Basabe.  We lose (Zach) McCabe.  Who is that next forward in the game at that position?  Obviously you have Aaron White. Jarrod Uthoff.  So I think Dom is the guy," McCaffery said.

The coach said he has the option to go smaller, as well, with Josh Oglesby or Peter Jok at the three.

GESELL STAYING PUT: With Dickerson and Anthony Clemmons at point guard, it might make sense to shift the incumbent at the position, Mike Gesell, over to two guard. While that could happen, practice opens with Gesell as the starting lead guard.

"That's where I see it right now.  But that could change between now and the first game," McCaffery said.

Gesell paced the Hawkeyes with 3.9 assists per game in '13-14.

While Gesell appears locked into one starting guard spot, the other one is available for Oglesby, Jok, Dickerson or Anthony Clemmons.

"Obviously Josh and Pete, that will be the logical place to start. Both of them are established," McCaffery said. "Trey Dickerson would be a guy you look at.  Okay, do you play him?  Do you move Mike over?  And you can't discount Anthony Clemmons in the mix.  Because he's got enough versatility, he can guard a bigger guy, guard a smaller guy. So it really is an open opportunity for any one of those guys."

ELLINGSON STILL RECOVERING: Ellingson missed all of the summer after having surgery on a broken bone in his foot. The freshman's health is improving, but he said he's only at about 85-90 percent.

"This process with my surgery has been kind of longer than I expected but coach told me not to push it too hard because the season hasn't started yet and he wants me to be healthy when it comes around," the Wisconsin product said.

McCaffery sees Ellingson playing a role in a crowded backcourt.

"Brady Ellingson is going to be a factor.  We'll see with Pete and Josh, you know, do we have enough minutes for him?  Because I will tell you this, in the workouts that I've watched, that we've had with him, he knows how to play.  And he's a really effective player, really good shooter, but incredibly smart and kind of a winning player, which is what we thought we had when we signed him. So he could be a guy that ends up right in the middle of it," the coach said.

TWIN TOWERS: McCaffery talked last offseason about playing big men Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni together. It never materialized.

The coach again is considering the lineup heading into a new campaign.

"I think with where Woodbury's offense has gotten and where Gabe's offense has gotten, it's much more likely because you're playing two guys that are capable of getting double figures," McCaffery said. "Whereas if that was not the case, then I don't think you could play them both together."

TREY'S TRIGGER: McCaffery is intrigued by the Dickerson addition. The coach believes it makes an already versatile lineup more dangerous.

"He's the guy that's different.  The reason why we brought him in, he's different than everything else we have.  He's a creator.  He's great in the pick-and-roll.  He can score.

"He loads people up.  So if you have shooters on the floor, like, for example, if he was on the floor with Pete and Josh and Jarrod, he's going to find those guys for open shots.  If you have your longer athletic lineup, he's going to be able to penetrate in the lane, find guys near the basket, throw alley-oop passes up near the rim.

"The break will run really well as a result.  So we've got some options there with Trey as a scoring one and a creative one." 

SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR: Last season, McCaffery banned his players from using Twitter. It occurred after Zach McCabe reacted to fans criticizing him on the social media platform.

The coach reinstated Twitter after the season. That ban remained lifted.

"What we did over the summer we brought a company in and kind of went through it with them and it was a training session, a training seminar that I think was very well received by our players," McCaffery said. "You get to a point in my chair, the simple thing is no Twitter, no Facebook, none of this stuff.  Is that realistic?  I mean, that's just sort of how young people communicate.  That's how they live their lives.  So I think it's better to educate and allow them the flexibility but ultimately you have to trust them."

The Hawkeyes must act responsibly.

"If we have another issue, then I'll shut it down," the coach said. "I did it last year, I'll do it again.  But I think from that point forward our guys have done a really professional job of what they say that ultimately becomes available to anybody that wants to see it."

TIP-INS: New administrative assistant/assistant video coordinator Tommy Massimino is the grandson of former Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino…Aaron White is attempting to become the first Hawkeye to lead the team in rebounding in four consecutive seasons…Iowa posted four Big Ten road wins last season, the first it accomplished that in 10 years.

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