powered by the Iowa City Press-Citizen & The Des Moines Register
Subscribe via RSS Feed

Cyclone players, coach defend Zach McCabe

[ 0 ] February 24, 2014 |

Social media?

Social injustice.

That’s what the state’s two most recognized men’s basketball coaches offered Monday — one with a ban, and the other with a verbal assault.

“Social media has taken over so many peoples’ young lives, and I think it’s a disgrace,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I think social media is going to be the end of us, I really do.

“It’s a joke that people can sit behind their computer and take a stab at a young kid that’s out there doing the best that he can. It happens everywhere. I can promise you, it happens to a player out of the Pac-12 Conference. It happens to players at every conference.

“They’re going to get shots taken at them if they don’t go out and play a good game. I think it’s really sad.”

Social media criticism reached such a boiling point on the other side of the state that Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said Monday he told his players to get off of it until after the season.

His decision followed a discussion with his team after Saturday’s 79-74 home loss against Wisconsin.

In that game, forward Zach McCabe fouled out with no points and air-balled a 3-point attempt during a crucial moment at the end of the game.

Alleged Iowa fans on social media took anonymous Twitter shots at McCabe, who responded with a profane tweet before deleting it and apologizing.

“First and foremost I’m going to support Zach,” McCaffery said on the Big Ten teleconference Monday. “I love everything he brings to this program, and I support him 100 percent.

“I think it can be very upsetting when you’re getting attacked, and I think you can have the impression that the entire fan base is attacking you — and that is not the case.

“The good thing that’s come out of this is how much support he’s gotten in return from so many different people.”

Support included members of the Iowa State basketball team.

“I feel bad for Zach,” Melvin Ejim said. “There’s definitely times you want to say something to people who you know are blatantly trying to be disrespectful. You feel you have to retaliate, (but) you have to know that you can’t stoop down to that level. Ultimately, the only people it’s going to hurt are you and your team.

“Players have to be even smarter than the average person when it comes to that.”

Georges Niang quickly took McCabe’s side, too.

“People behind those computers — man, they have no idea,” he said. “We’re not getting paid to do this. We don’t want to make a mistake.

“Zach McCabe didn’t mean for the ball to slip out of his hand. I feel bad for the kid. He didn’t mean for that to happen. The Iowa fans are some hard fans.”

Hoiberg said he would have reacted poorly if social media was around back when he played.

“I would not be able to function with that when I was playing,” he said. “I was so mental, that I would have taken to heart everything that was said to me. I’m one of those guys if I get 100 positive comments, I remember the one negative one.”

Both coaches used the phrase “it’s part of the world we live in.”

McCaffery, though, stressed, “It’s not the world I live in. It’s not the world I grew up in.”

Both coaches had advice for people who want to continue hiding behind social media’s anonymity.

“Don’t go (off) on these 18-year-old kids that leave their heart on the floor for their program,” Hoiberg said.

McCaffery said he knows where fans can place their anger.

“People are going to be upset after a loss, and they’re going to (place) blame,” he said. “Normally they blame the coach, and that’s what I prefer they do. If we lose, blame me. If we win, let’s cheer on the players and be happy for them.”

 The Register’s Rick Brown contributed to this report.

 RELATED STORY: Iowa players told to shut down social media accounts

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

Comments closed