Fran McCaffery Made a Poor Decision Following Last Night’s Win [VIDEO]
I love Fran McCaffery and what he's done with the Iowa men's basketball program but I felt embarrassed by what he and his team did last night.
Fran was frustrated with how Tuesday night's game ended. Iowa defeated North Dakota 84-73, but there were some contentious moments as the game neared its end.
Thirty-seven seconds remained when a dead ball technical was called on Iowa freshman Jordan Bohannon. Replays appeared to show a North Dakota player with his arm wrapped around Bohannon, with his hand holding Bohannon's waist. It appeared Jordan tried to get the hand off and finally raised his arm, forcing the opposing player to fall backward. It appeared, to me, to at least be a partial flop. Bohannon was whistled for the "T" following an official review of the video.
As the remaining few seconds ran off the clock, Nicholas Baer grabbed a turnover and was going to hold it 'til time ran out. North Dakota's Corey Baldwin stole the ball and attempted a layup as time expired. Unusual? Yes. Unprecedented? No.
There's something else to consider. North Dakota is coached by Brian Jones. He was an assistant coach at Iowa for eight years, ending in 2006. One of his assistants is former Hawkeye player Jeff Horner, whose Hawkeye playing career also ended in 2006. The Iowa native's career was an impressive one. He ended his playing career as Iowa's all-time assist leader at 612 and also as the career leader in made 3-pointers, with 262.
Was there extra fire in the North Dakota locker room and on that floor last night due to their coaching staffs connection to Iowa? You can bet on it. Did North Dakota play dirty? In watching the game, my opinion is no. They played hard, but not dirty. There's a big difference. That's why I was surprised, and disappointed, with what I saw when the game ended:
At the postgame press conference, Fran was asked why he left without shaking hands with the opposing coaches and players. His response was, "I wasn't pleased with how the game ended and the things that happened. I will say this: I have a lot of respect for Brian and certainly Jeff Horner. I don't think they teach that kind of stuff, but I was not having it. That's not the way to play."
A member of the media asked him what he didn't like. Fran said, "Were you at the game? Well, then you should know what I didn't like."
Finally, a reporter asked what Fran said to his players. McCaffery responded, "I told my guys I was proud of them, but you can't get caught up in it. The game's over. We don't need Pete getting knocked to the floor. We don't need guys getting up in Jordan's face. We don't need Nicholas Baer's head getting chopped off. We don't need it. We won." McCaffery also expressed concern about what might have happened if the teams had shaken hands.
During his postgame press conference, North Dakota coach Brian Jones told reporters, "I worked here for eight years, that's why I was frustrated -- Coach Horner played here. We want to come here and play well. We want our family and friends to be proud of what we're doing and be respected. I get the heat of it. It's just the heat of the moment. Coach [McCaffery] is a high-character guy. I'm not blaming that. There were some things down the stretch that both teams could have cleaned up. We have to learn from those situations."
When asked about the game's final play involving Baldwin and Baer, Jones said, "The kid is a competitive kid. We'll handle that. Our kids are trying to compete. They're not malicious kids. They're good kids. They're trying to compete until the final horn goes off."
This morning, with some time to digest everything that happened, Fran McCaffery feels differently. He told ESPN, "I feel bad about it. I have a lot of respect for Brian Jones. I wish it didn't happen. I wish I shook hands. It was a hard-fought game, and I was being protective of my players. Peter Jok has been getting beat up, and it was just a few plays in the last minute that I was frustrated about. But again, I think Brian Jones is a high-character guy and a heck of a coach. Assistant Jeff Horner is one of the best players ever to play here. I shouldn't have done it. I feel terrible about what happened." Fran also reportedly texted an apology to Jones after the game.
I'm glad Fran made those apologies. As a fan, I was embarrassed by what I saw last night. Iowa's players seemed confused by the move, in my opinion. Kudos to Fran for making amends today when the heat of the moment may have gotten the best of him a bit last night. Now, it's on to Delaware State Thursday night and the Big Ten season next Wednesday. Peter Jok, and the young talent on this team, could make for a fun ride this winter.