Big Ten Media Day - Fran McCaffery
Oct. 25, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Joining us now is Fran McCaffery, he welcomes back 10 letter winners and three starters from last year's team.
The challenge anytime you're coaching in this league is: are you going to be good enough? Because there are so many good teams, and I think that's the fun of it. That, as I said, is the challenge, to see how we progress, how we develop, especially early with our young players.
Q. Fran, yours is a team that people keep mentioning as a dark horse, somebody that isn't picked high, they could do real well. Do you embrace that idea? Do you think it's a good place to be? Seems like you're confident about that.
I recognize just how good this league is. As good as it's been since I've been in it this short time, I think it's even better now in terms of quality teams one through 12. The difficulty that we all experience winning on the road is huge, but we have some pieces. We can score. We have multiple options I can do to in terms of personnel, I can go big, I can go small, I think we can pressure more because we have more depth.
The key is defensively. We didn't defend last year, we didn't defend consistently. We defended some nights, but we gave up high numbers from three, from the field, and the players in this league are just too good to play the way we played last year defensively. Part of that was we played fast. I thought in terms of turnovers and assists, I felt we were pretty good. We have to get better there, turnovers have to improve, despite the fact that we're playing fast and we have to play better defense and I think we will be a better rebounding team, which should limit the other teams shooting percentages a little bit. If you put it all together, obviously we hope to be substantially improved.
Q. Coach, how does having the size of Woodbury affect what you guys are going to be able to do?
You can run your offense through him, even if he's not getting 25, his best attribute offensively is passing. He will throw it in there, skip it to the weak side, we have a number of three point shooters, but he is a presence physically. He closes up the lane, holds his position, bangs people.
When you're going up against the really good post guys in the league like Zeller, it gives him somebody who can match him physically in terms of size. Last year we had a tremendous player in Zach McCabe, and though he's 6 7, it's a difficult task for him so it presents more promise for the teams that are preparing for us and gives us a weapon that we didn't have before.
Q. Following up on that, what are the most important things for a freshman to not just be able to play in this league but to contribute to winning?
When you have a team consisting of players like that, then you have a chance to certainly be better and ultimately be very good.
Q. Fran, establishing an offensive tempo on the road in this league is maybe one of the more difficult challenges, do you think that the freshmen like Mike Gesell and Pat Ingram can do that?
So I think from that standpoint it gives us the versatility to go with him if I need to but I have two guys that not only push it and make the decisions but they both can score and they both defend. With all due respect to Cartwright, last year what was a great leader, a great offensive player, but he doesn't defend and that was his struggle and it affected our team. Part of it was because I was playing him a thousand minutes and these guys can get rest and put better pressure on the basketball.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
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