By Todd Brommelkamp/KGYM Radio
It’s Media Day for the Iowa men’s basketball program today in Iowa City.
There’s really only one question that needs to be asked of Fran McCaffery at this point.
“Will this team be better defensively than it has been and why should we believe it will be?”
Technically, I guess that’s two questions.
It’s Year 9 for McCaffery in Iowa City and if there’s been one common denominator across his seasons at the helm it’s been that the Hawks have lacked for results on the defensive end of the court.
Offense? No problem. The Hawkeyes can score in bunches. They’ve got all five starters returning and 10 total letter winners. But those starters led the Hawks to a 14-19 campaign last winter, including an abysmal 4-14 mark in Big Ten play.
That’s the opposite of “phenomenal,” a phrase McCaffery uses as liberally as most toddlers throw around the word “mine.”
Last season the Hawkeyes averaged 79.7 points per game while opponents averaged 78.7.
That’s kind of “sideways,” another McCafferyism, to say the least.
But then you look at the conference numbers by themselves and it’s enough to leave the most ardent Hawkeye backer reaching for the Tums. The Hawkeyes averaged 76.1 points in 18 league games. However, they surrendered an average of 83.1.
That’s how you wind up 4 and 14 and watching the entire postseason from your campus digs.
McCaffery was self-aware enough to address his team’s defensive deficiencies early on during his Monday address to the media. He defended his track record, noting he’s always been an offense-first coach.
The goal, he said, is to out-score opponents.
Still, McCaffery said there was a thorough examination of his team’s defensive output and an emphasis was put on being better defensively.
Count me as skeptical. True freshmen additions Joe Wieskamp and C. J. Fredrick each established high school scoring marks over decorated prep careers.
Some outside the program were hoping to see McCaffery and his staff look to the junior college ranks or the transfer rolls to find a quick fix for a roster lacking in defensive stoppers.
That didn’t occur.
As is, this roster looks suspiciously like other McCaffery assembled units. A guard-heavy group with a few big men sprinkled in – big men with decent offensive profiles.
Two things seem certain at this point as it pertains to Iowa hoops.
McCaffery, who is under contract through 2023 with a hefty buyout, isn’t going anywhere.
And if the talk of spending the summer examining this team’s defensive deficiencies wasn’t anything more than that, Iowa won’t be either.