Is Coach Fran McCaffery’s Game Plan Ready to Work?

Is Coach Fran McCaffery’s Game Plan Ready to Work?


When Coach Fran McCaffery was hired at Iowa prior to the 2010-2011 campaign, the Hawkeyes were promised to become a more explosive offense. They looked like they had the tools to do so. Point guard Cully Payne very easily could have thrived given the freedom to run up and down the floor. With Matt Gatens and Eric May on his wing, the Hawkeyes could have scored a lot of points.

Yet, pretty much from the start things went wrong for the trio of backcourt stars. Cully Payne only played in five games before getting hurt and eventually transferring to Loyola (IL). Gatens was slowed by an injury early in the year and May never really got his game going as much as expected. Gatens still had a decent year, tallying 12.6 points per game and May is just a junior this season and could still emerge as a premiere scoring threat.

But it was a couple of newcomers who really made things tick for Iowa in Coach McCaffery’s first year at the helm at Iowa. Melsahn Basabe had an incredible freshman year, averaging 11.0 points and a team high 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Bryce Cartwright, a junior college transfer, averaged 10.9 points and did a superb job running the show. He averaged 5.9 assists per game and did a decent job keeping the turnovers down even while trying to push the tempo. It turned out that Coach McCaffery needed some of his players in the system to make it work. While Gatens and May are still talented players, especially when they can find their shot, it may take more time for Iowa’s new system to reach its full potential.

The Hawkeyes did increase their scoring output from 60.5 points per game in 2009-2010 to 67.2 points per game last year, but that is not enough for Coach McCaffery. This team will be running up and down the floor sooner than later, but all of the players left over from the previous regime are having more trouble catching up then once thought and it may take three more years before it is truly a new Iowa team that is ready to seriously compete in the Big Ten.

Read the in-depth men's basketball preview of this team