Fran McCaffery took to the podium Monday afternoon to discuss his team during the lay-off and previewed the upcoming contest against Wisconsin. Hawkeye Insider shares the significant points of the press conference.
ON ETHAN HAPP
"Well, I think he does a lot of things. He's really good in the low post. His length defensively has helped them, so he's a solid rebounder at both ends, and he's a really good defender. He's got really good instincts. He's been a good player."
"They haven't changed that much (under Greg Gard). They're still doing what they've always done, you know, and it's kind of a winning formula."
"Well, they've got some young guys, yeah. I think (their improvement) is to be expected. Guys that haven't played much, you know what you're going to get out of Koenig and Hayes certainly. You know that. Happ has really stepped up. Vitto Brown was not in that role. Even though he's not young, he hasn't beein in that role. I think he's been terrific. Hill has been impressive. Showalter, another guy who's not young, but he has not been in that role, and he's been very effective, as well. Those guys, the more they've gotten to play and the more they've gotten to be in situations where they have to take big shots and make big plays, they've done that."
"Nigel Hayes is a really difficult cover because he's a terrific ball handler. He gets to the free-throw line, and he can make threes, so those kind of guys are tough to guard because he can post you, but he can also pop out off the post and go one-on-one off the dribble, very similar to Kaminsky in that regard. He's got a really quick first step for a guy that big."
ON THE LAY-OFF
"I think that's what it was. It was not once area where I felt like we were deficient. You want to go back and work on everything that you do and try to get better in every one of those areas. That's what we tried to do."
"I don't think (we are tired). Everybody is probably tired as you get to this point of the season. I don't think we're any more tired than anybody else."
"I hope (it came at the right time). You know, we've ahd some time to work on some things, but I think you make a good point. I mean, the next four games are really all against very good teams. So hopefully we'll play well, play a little better than we have recently. We're close, but I think our defense has to get better, especially with the weapons that we're going to face on Wednesday night."
"Yeah, occasionally (I put in some new things this time of year). I don't do a lot of that. Some coaches do more than others. But we have done that. We've done that this year. We've done it in the past. I think that's fairly typical, especially as you get later in the conference season when everybody is watching you over and over on film."
ON THE FREE-THROW ISSUES
"It's not for lack of practice. It was good shooters for the most part. It was frustrating that, in particular, I thought the Penn State game was like 1 for 2, 1 for 2, 1 for 2. You've got to take advantage when you're in the double bonus as much as you can, and they've shot a ton over the weekend."
ON FINDING MORE SCORING OUTSIDE OF JOK AND UTHOFF
"Well, it's really hard because I kind of give my guys the green light, so it's not like, okay, I'm going to turn so-and-so loose. Mike can shoot it when he wants, Clemmons can shoot it when he wants. Woodbury, I think, really understands how he's effective scoring the ball. But then it's the guys off the bench, how are we going to get Uhl going a little bit more in particular, Ellingson. Those are guys that can make threes, and we need them to do that. I think Ahmad Wagner is a guy that can score the ball. So we've got enough weapons and just got to maybe get those guys a few more minutes."
"You know, when you have two really good scorers like that, you look at every team, a lot of them are just like that. They're going to take the bulk of the shots, they're going to take the bulk of the free-throws. Down the stretch you're going to go to your best shooters, your best scorers. Everybody does the same thing. But hopefully we'll get a little bit more from each guy, and I think we have the capability for that, in particular with Mike and Clemmons."