Fran McCaffery and his Iowa basketball team have the pieces to make some noise next season.
The Hawkeyes have already been ranked inside the Top 15 in many early season polls as they enter a pivotal offseason amidst the coronavirus.
The sting of a season cut short has started to fade. The expectations for another have ramped up.
“Well, you can’t dwell on it forever. You know, it happened. It happened the way it happened. We’re not the only ones that were disappointed,” McCaffery said via Zoom conference. “They’re locked in. I think we all recognize the challenge that’s ahead in terms of expectation, but the critical thing is, each of those guys have expectations for themselves.”
If their full complement of players return, the Hawkeyes are expected to be one of the best teams in the country next year.
“They all recognize what’s at stake. They all recognize the opportunity before us. And I think that’s the most important thing and I’ve been really proud of that,” McCaffery said.
COVID-19 has forced players to train on their own. McCaffery said his team is positioned to lower the impact of being apart because of their maturity.
“When you have a veteran group, it’s important, but it’s not as important because they know our offense. They know our terminology. They know our defensive schemes. They know how we train,” McCaffery said.
McCaffery doesn’t sense any complacency from his veteran bunch either.
“This is a self-motivated group. They put the time in. They take care of their bodies, they live their life the right way,” McCaffery said. “But I think most importantly, they’re connected as friends, as teammates, as competitors.”
The team’s four captains are trying to maintain those close bonds during the pandemic.
“Luka, Connor, Jordan and Joe Wieskamp. They all talked about what they’re doing to motivate themselves, what they’ve been doing to motivate each other,” McCaffery said. “Each one of those guys takes three of his teammates, and talks to that person during the course of the week, and then they rotate it so that they’re all talking to everybody. So that there’s never anybody losing any focus on what we’re trying to accomplish.”
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