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McCaffery plans to continue to let loose his wrath

[ 17 ] January 12, 2012 |

Despite his latest bench tirade going viral on the Internet and drawing criticism from at least one national media member, Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery has no regrets about his behavior during games nor will he apologize for it.

“No, not all,” McCaffery said Thursday, two days after he was called for his fifth technical foul of the season in the second half of Tuesday’s 95-61 loss to Michigan State at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. “If anybody thinks I’m going to sit there with my hands crossed when we’re down by 40 (points), they’ve got the wrong guy.

“I was brought in here to change the culture. I’m going to coach with passion and my players know that. They also know I’m going to fight for them.”

McCaffery said he thinks a lot people on the outside misinterpreted what took place during a timeout when he slammed a chair to the ground shortly after being called for the technical against Michigan State. He also went up and down the bench screaming at his players during the timeout.

“I think a lot of people like to infer about what’s going on or what’s being said,” said McCaffery, whose team is 10-8 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten heading into Saturday’s game at home against No. 13 Michigan . “Nobody knows what I was saying. Nobody knows what we’re discussing during that timeout except for me and the players.

“So, I have no regrets, I have no apologies, none whatsoever. I’m going to continue and coach the same way and we’re going to keep working and improving and battling and fighting until we’re up by 40.”

Iowa freshman forward Aaron White said after the 34-point loss to Michigan State that McCaffery was upset at his players for not matching Michigan State’s physical approach on defense. The officials allowed the game to be played physical and the Michigan State players took advantage of it.

“First of all, I didn’t have much at all towards the officials, to be honest with you,” McCaffery said. “In this case, what I should say is it was toward the players to take care of what was happening in the game.

“Now you can infer whatever you want to infer from that, because when the game is physical and it’s being officiated like that, then we have to adjust.”

McCaffery’s tirade at Michigan State has been a huge hit on YouTube, receiving over 60,000 views, and it’s drawn the attention of the national media, including Tony Kornheiser, who along with veteran newspaper columnist Michael Wilbon, co-hosts the show Pardon the Interruption on ESPN.

Kornheiser called McCaffery’s behavior an embarrassment to the University of Iowa, but Wilbon said he liked it.

USA Today also compared McCaffery’s chair-throwing incident to when former Indiana coach Bob Knight tossed a chair across the court during a game against Purdue in 1985.

McCaffery said Thursday that he hadn’t heard from the Big Ten or from any officials at the University of Iowa voicing concern about this latest bench incident.

He also isn’t worried that game officials will take offense to his behavior and hold it against him.

“The good ones don’t,” McCaffery said.

The Iowa players defended McCaffery on Thursday, saying his temper is just part of his passion for his job and for his players. McCaffery is trying to turn around a program with four straight losing seasons.

“I think it’s cool, I like seeing it,” Iowa senior guard Matt Gatens said. “We don’t like being down 20 or 30 (points). But that’s great to see fire out of him.

“I know he’s a competitive and passionate guy and sometimes that comes out.”

McCaffery avoided being ejected from the Michigan State game, unlike the Northern Iowa game on Dec. 6 in Cedar Falls when he was booted in the second half after receiving two of Iowa’s four technical fouls during the 80-60 loss.

Gatens has played in 111 games as a Hawkeye, but Tuesday’s game at Michigan State marked the first time that he witnessed a coach slam a chair to the ground out of anger.

“I’ve never seem something like that,” Gatens said. “That was a pretty heavy chair, too.

“It’s kind of impressive for him to throw it down with that force. But we’ll just try to avoid those situations again.”

McCaffery’s bench demeanor is a major change from his predecessor at Iowa Todd Lickliter, who rarely showed emotion in games during his three seasons as coach.

“He wants to win, and that’s the passion that I want to see,” junior forward Eric May said of McCaffery. “It’s good to see. That’s the way he coaches and I respect that.”

The players also said they are used to having coaches that show their emotion.

Gatens won a state title at City High as a senior in 2008 while playing for Andy Woodley, who coached with passion and wasn’t afraid to criticize his players.

“I was kind of used to it coming in,” Gatens said. “My high school coach was pretty loud and tough on us at times.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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