Frank Kaminsky had 24 points and nine rebounds, as the Wisconsin Badgers locked in defensively during the second half en route to a 74-63 win over Iowa on Saturday. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery spoke about the game at his press conference.
FRAN McCAFFERY: Last night we lost a very important member of the Hawkeye basketball family in Dale Howard. In the time that I’ve been here, we became very close friends. We would not have our practice facility, our office complex, the Carver-Hawkeye renovation, without the generosity of he and his wife Marilyn. Great husband, great father, great basketball man, and we’re going to miss him.
Q. In the first half that was as efficient as you’ve been with shooting percentage, yet you’re still down six. What was it Wisconsin was doing to you?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, I think the second shots hurt us, no question. They were efficient, too. They moved the ball, and they took good shots and had good shooters taking good shots. They’re a tough team to guard. So that was one of the things coming into the game that we knew we had to do a better job of, because as bad as our defense was up there, our offensive execution was probably worse if that’s possible.
But today was much better, and you’re right there; you’ve got a shot. You’re six and you have the ball to start the second half.
Q. Was that your best offense of the season the first half?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, I thought it was the best understanding of when to go and when to move it on, which is absolutely critical against Wisconsin. You know, you want to put your head down and go, it’s usually a mistake against them. But if you go at the right time then you can’t put your head down and go. I think we took a whole lot of contested shots in the first half. We took a ton of contested quick shots in the first half up there, and they’re going to turn those into baskets.
But I think if you’re going to look at one thing that really was the difference in the game, it was offensive rebounding. They had 15. Their efficiency at scoring on second-shot opportunities is probably the best in the country. I don’t have that stat in front of me, but I would be willing to guess it’s No.1 in the country.
Q. Just on that point, how perfect do you have to play to beat a team like Wisconsin?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, you know, you have to be efficient offensively. You’ve got to do a better job on the glass. You can’t turn it over. Our turnovers were pretty close. They were six, we were eight. You’re okay there. Like I said, 50/50 balls, rebounding, and then when the game was in the balance, I thought we had a couple bad possessions offensively, and you have to have the toughness at that point, I think, because you’re looking at the clock, it’s now under eight minutes and you’re down nine, we’ve got to score quick, and that’s what you’re thinking. We’ve got to quicken the pace of this game, and that’s the hardest thing against them because if you start quick shooting, you’re back to where you were before, and you’re probably not going to score. And that’s kind of what happened in that one stretch. We had a couple quick shots, contested shots, and then we had a couple goofy turnovers that really hurt us.
Q. Seemed like every time you would make a run at it, they would answer with a key shot.
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, I thought Gasser’s three– Josh Oglesby cannot play any better defense than he played on that possession. You just have to say, you know what, the kid hit a heck of a shot, and that was a big play in the game, I thought. I thought that was a really good defensive possession for us, and we did a pretty good job on the three. Normally if they make seven, you’ve got a shot, but not if you look and say okay, 35-24, 15-7 on the glass. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Q. What is the challenge to playing a team that’s that efficient offensively and can score at all five positions?
FRAN McCAFFERY: The hardest thing, I think, is you’ve got to finish the possession out because they’re really good at that. Even if it’s just tipping one back or getting their hand on a ball somehow, keeping it alive. I think that’s the hardest thing to do because they’re a big team. They’re long, and they’re physical. They’re a veteran team. They understand the value of every possession and how you finish one out.
Q. How do you think Aaron performed given everything?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Oh, I couldn’t be prouder of him. I mean, he had a heck of a week. I really didn’t think he was going to play on Wednesday, and then Thursday I felt pretty sure that he was going to play. He tried to go yesterday and really was not himself, was okay, and I just think– my biggest concern was him getting hit again and being able to play kind of his game. Played him 38 minutes. Tough kid.
Q. He wasn’t really able to play his game, though, was he somewhat limited?
FRAN McCAFFERY: He might have been a little more physical in a another setting, but I thought he stuck his nose in there. He was trying to mix up his jumpers and his drives and his post-ups. I think he missed a couple shots that he normally would have made. His drive in the first half where he got all the way to the rim and he missed it. We posted him up in the second half and he missed it. Normally he makes those two shots.
Q. When did Mike hurt his elbow?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Mike hurt his elbow in practice on Monday. Monday wasn’t a good day. He just tried to get to a screen and hyperextended it. He couldn’t really shoot a three. That’s why he kept turning down threes, and he could shoot a pull-up, and he could get to the rim. But he was sideways. He didn’t practice all week, either. But again, you know, tough kid, lived in the training room just like Whitey did and got themselves to where they could be effective. They were both effective, and they gave us a chance to win. You’ve got to love that about both of them.
Q. And Gabe?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Gabe’s probably was the least serious of the three. But considering he relies so much on speed and athleticism, a bum wheel doesn’t help, but he was fine.
Q. Do you feel quite a bit better about this performance than the one–
FRAN McCAFFERY: But you can’t be satisfied. You can’t fool yourself into, yeah, we’re better, because we lost. It doesn’t change. We lost up there, we lost here. It’s still only one loss, but we have to be better than we played today.
Q. What are your primary concerns or concern, if you have any right now?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I don’t know that we have been as consistent as we need to be defensively. We have been great at times, we have been really bad at times, we have been mediocre a good portion of the time. And I think if we can get more consistent defensively, I think it will greatly impact our offensive execution and efficiency.
Q. With a couple guys banged up, do you think it’s beneficial to have a couple extra days before you go up to Ann Arbor?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I do, because I think it’ll be important that we see how do they feel tonight, how do they feel tomorrow. If we played Tuesday, we’d be going hard. We can give them a little bit of time. But they seemed to come out of it okay to be honest with you.
Q. Big Ten schedule is so unforgiving and this stretch is really tough. Three straight losses, but where is your team’s confidence right now?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, I think our team’s confidence is– I think it’s still strong. You lose three in a row, it’s not going to be the same as if we won three in a row, but I think it’s incumbent upon me and my staff to make sure we remain focused and we keep trying to get better, keep believing in each other. You don’t want to get too negative, but you don’t want to accept defeat, so what we’ll do is we’ll study it, we’ll break it down and hold them accountable and go to work, try to get better. No different quite honestly than if we had won these three games in a row. Think about where we’d be. Everybody would be jubilation, we’re in first place and all that. But got to go to work, got to play at Michigan on Wednesday. We’ve got to get better at this and this and this. That’s what we do.
Q. You hit a dry spot defensively in the second half; you couldn’t get any traction. Were you running the offense okay and just couldn’t make any shots or taking shots too quick?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I didn’t think it was too bad. I thought we maybe were moving less– we needed to move more with a purpose. I thought we were moving, we were changing sides of the floor, but we weren’t necessarily cutting to score. We were cutting to catch a pass, and then pass it to somebody else. We didn’t recognize maybe a couple times that we had somebody in the post.
We did run some sets in that segment, and that’s the hardest thing for me as a coach is how long do you stay with motion, and when do you go to sets, because if you go to sets you tend to quick shoot the ball, so our mantra was don’t quick shoot the ball in this game. Well, if you call a set, good chance somebody is going to shoot it quick. You’d like to think that if they’re covered even though we ran a set that they wouldn’t shoot it, sometimes you call a guy’s number, he’s going to shoot the ball, and we had a couple of those.
We weren’t horrible, but we didn’t get enough offensive rebounds. We had more in the second half than we did in the first, obviously, so that was good.
Q. Under the circumstances coming into the game, how important was Woodbury’s start, and then beyond that, what kind of a neutralizer is Kaminsky?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, I was really proud of Woody, the way he prepared, the way he worked this week, the way he started. It’s unfortunate he got in foul trouble. I think he was on his way to a great game. I thought he played well.
As far as Kaminsky is concerned, he is a tough cover in every sense of the word. He posts, he posts deep, he posts off the block, he gets it at the top of the key. We separated twice from him– excuse me, three times, and he makes two threes. We weren’t trying to separate. Sometimes you have to show on a ball screen. Sometimes you have to wait a second and make sure they don’t get a wide-open lay-up, and then you give him this much space and he’s knocking it in.
But his countermoves off both shoulders are tough to handle, too, because he finishes with either hand.
Q. Along those lines, how difficult is he considering he can go inside-outside? You’ve played a lot of good big men in the Big Ten over the last five years, but this one —
FRAN McCAFFERY: He’s different. He’s really a forward, maybe even a guard. He was a guard when he was younger. So I think that helps him, because a lot of big guys you can double and they’re going to turn it over. You double him, he’s going to find somebody and they’re going to surround him with four other three-point shooters so you really can’t double him. You can, but you’re going to give up a lot. So you’ll see teams throughout the rest of the season– some will say, look, we’re going to double him and live with what happens. Others will say, look, we’ll play him straight up and take away the three ball and body up and do the best we can. But either way he’s a handful because he doesn’t turn it over.