First-year Iowa coach Fran McCaffery knows about rivalries. He’s been part of them at all of his former coaching stops.
“I’ve been through this type of stuff before,” McCaffery said Thursday. “I’m not foolish. The players know the difference. The fans are much more excited.
“It’s important for us to make sure to keep everyone level-headed and focus on the game plan.”
Tonight, McCaffery gets his first taste of the Cy-Hawk rivalry when Iowa State (7-2) visits Iowa (5-4) at 7:36 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
At Siena, McCaffery had to prepare each year for the showdown with the University of Albany.\
“That was a war,” he said. “We would get 7,000 or 8,000 (fans) every game, then get 13,000 for that game.”
He also dealt with North Carolina A&T when he was at UNC-Greensboro. “They were right across the road,” McCaffery said.
With the Cy-Hawk rivalry, McCaffery said he’s trying to treat it like any other game.
“It’s just the next game on the schedule,” McCaffery said. “My approach as a coach is to put a game plan together and get the players to play the next game. I’m not making it any more important than the previous one or the next one after that.”
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz took the “just another game” approach at the start of his tenure. He started 0-4 against Iowa State and heard grumbling from fans on the I-Club circuit. He has since won six of the last eight meetings.
“I’m not stupid. I know there’s impact with regard to how the fans look at he game, how the media looks at the game. I understand that,” McCaffery said.
Of course first-year Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg knows all about the rivalry. He lived it growing up in Ames and as a player at Iowa State.
“It was miserable my first time (at Carver-Hawkeye),” Hoiberg said. “I remember that. I think I had my career low in points. I had one point my sophomore year and they whipped us.
“It’ll be very hostile in there. We know that. That’s just the way the rivalry is. It’s the same thing when Iowa plays here. It’s a lot of fun. This is a big rivalry. Its fun to be part of as a player; fun to be part of it as a coach.”
And for any Hawkeye and Cyclone fans wanting to compare and contrast which program made the better coaching hire based on one night, McCaffery and Hoiberg aren’t falling for that one.
“I don’t think so,” McCaffery said. “You evaluate a coach over time. That’s the only way to do it. Anything can happen in one game.
“I feel confident with my record being what it is. I feel comfortable in my own skin. I know he does too.”
“They are a lot better team now than they were the first game of the season,” Hoiberg said of the Hawkeyes. “I feel like we’re making strides as well.
“As these two programs try to put their philosophies and their systems in … and hopefully we’ll both be around for a long time, and have a lot of these games to play yet.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball