May 2013

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Page 34 of 58

No Time for Down Time T By Darren Miller he final horn sounded an hour earlier in New York City's Madison Square Garden, signaling an end to the National Invitation Tournament and one of the most gratifying rides for the University of Iowa men's basketball program in nearly a decade. While Hawkeye players and support staff boarded a chartered flight for Cedar Rapids, Fran and Margaret McCaffery were on their way to Atlanta, site of the Final Four, the NABC Coach's Convention, and, more specifically for Margaret, the Coaches vs. Cancer Wives' Breakfast. It might not have been the epitome of down time for the McCafferys, but it will have to do for now. In fact, it will have to do for the next several weeks. That's the price of success; that's the price when everyone wants a piece of McCaffery, who nearly everyone in the basketball community sees as the architect of an awakened giant. There is little rest for the weary, but the increased number of wins confirms Iowa's recent progress on the court. McCaffery has taken the Hawkeye program from 11 wins in his first season in 201011, to 25 wins in 2012-13. "We respect the fact that the expectations are high, we welcome the challenge," McCaffery said. "It's better than when you're picked 11th in the Big Ten, where we were my first year, and you're trying to fight for every positive. Now there is an expectation that we're going to beat people. Now we have to go out and do it." McCaffery seems to enjoy the busy pace, an uptempo lifestyle that mimics the way his team plays. Less than a month removed from a runner-up finish in the NIT, he is already looking forward to a European summer trip where he can incorporate newbies Kyle Meyer, Jarrod Uthoff, and Peter Jok. But before the flight across the big pond, there are I-Club functions to attend, Nike representatives to socialize with…and recruiting. Even though the season ended April 4, these remain busy but happy times for the popular McCaffery, whose blend of stoic courtside genius sprinkled with a dose of hot-bloodedness, has become cherished by Hawkeye fans across the country. Home attendance has increased 30 percent since his arrival. With six sellouts last season alone, his style is receiving nationwide appeal…to fans and recruits. "We're received in a different way," McCaffery said. "We're seeing that student-athletes are watching. Because you make a run, you're on TV a lot more. They are watching and following our team. They are sort of investing in our team and envisioning, 'Hey, is this the right place? Where do I fit?" Iowa averaged 13,625 fans for its 11 home games this season, or 1,335 more than Hawkeye opponents drew for their home contests against Iowa. Carver-Hawkeye Arena was sold out for games against Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Indiana State, and Stony Brook. One date that impressed McCaffery was March 5, when the Hawkeyes defeated Illinois, 63-55. "We had a winter storm watch and everybody on TV is telling everybody to stay home, and we have (14,566) people show up for the Illinois game," McCaffery said. "They are Hawk fans." In the final game of the 2012-13 season, Iowa was more than 900 miles away from Iowa City. But the NIT Championship against Baylor felt like a home game. 35

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