IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery explained how the Hawkeyes let a late lead slip away in a 70-66 loss to Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena during his postgame news conference on Saturday.
HOW ILLINOIS SHOT 55 PERCENT IN THE SECOND HALF: “Well, they made some 3s, and we turned them over a few times. We thought that would be good. But I thought they moved the ball. They shared it, you know, so they got good shoots.”
ON WHAT WASN’T WORKING OFFENSIVELY LATE: “I thought we quick-shotted a few times. Maybe should have moved it a little better.”
DID NICHOLAS BAER GET FATIGUED LATE IN THE CONTEST?: “He was tired at that one stretch, and I actually had somebody at the table for him. And he went a little far there and then we got him out and then we got him back in. We need him on the floor, late, in those kinds of games, but he was done.
“You know, we’ve talked about that before. He goes till exhaustion. You try to get him out before he is completely shot, the best you can. Sometimes you can’t always get it right.”
ON THE IMPACT OF TYLER COOK PICKING HIS FOURTH FOUL WITH ABOUT 7 MINUTES LEFT: “Well, I mean, he was really in a rhythm offensively. I think that’s where we got hurt the most.”
DID THE TEAM PRESS WITH THE EMOTION AROUND THE ‘WHITEOUT’ AND THE 1980 FINAL FOUR PLAYERS RETURNING?: “I don’t know. I thought we did make some uncharacteristic mistakes at times. Yet we made some really good plays at times. So I don’t know.”
ON IF IOWA HAD GOOD LOOKS AT THE END: “Nicholas had a great look at it. Brady (Ellingson) had a great look at it. Jordan went to the hole at one time and blocked, but I thought that was the right play.
“That’s what you’re looking for in that situation: Can you execute, can you come down and get a shot, that’s good, by a good shooter, relatively quickly, because you’re trying to lengthen the game when you’re down four or three or whatever it was.”
ON EVALUATING THE LOSS: “I think what you do is you look at it as intelligently as possible, OK? Those things that you just mentioned were good things.
“What were bad things, well, 55 percent (by Illinois) in the second half, and you know, there were some other mistakes that we made, and there’s some mistakes that individuals made that we want to try to make sure they don’t make again; learn from it.
“Same thing if we had won the game. You know, you go back and you say, ‘Hey, we did these things really well, but those things we didn’t do well, we’ve got to improve in those areas if we’re going to continue to win.’ So, nothing changes, really, whether you win or lose there.”
ON THE ‘WHITEOUT’ CROWD: “Crowd was great. We really appreciate that. The players appreciate it. I looked up and saw so many people in Kenny Arnold shirts. It means so much to that team, and to Kenny. He’s very well aware of what this day was for him.
“So we’re really proud of him, we’re proud of those guys, and the fact that they have stayed connected to our program, and we want them to stay connected; and the fans, how they supported everything that was going on, we really, really appreciate that.”
HOW HARD IS THIS TIME OF YEAR, ESPECIALLY FOR A TEAM SO MANY YOUNG PLAYERS?: “Well, you’re right. It’s hard in a lot of ways. It’s physically exhausting. It’s mentally exhausting. It highlights the things that are critical in a game like this.
“You know, it usually comes down to a mistake or two, who makes a mistake, who overcomes a mistake. And like I said, we did so many good things, and we did some things that obviously weren’t so good, and they capitalized on those, and you have to give them credit for that.
“So you’re right. Sometimes you’ve got to go through it, and experience it; the good, the bad. You know, if you’re out of the game, what did your teammates do right; what did they do wrong. Remember, they were there all week, and they went through the scouting report. So they know if somebody in particular made a mistake that really cost our team.
“And you know, could somebody have communicated something to them; could somebody have recovered and covered up for that mistake, and that’s the journey and that’s where you have to get to when you’re a young team.”