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IOWA CITY — While the head of the Iowa men’s basketball family has been stuck in COVID-19 protocol at home, one of his sons is playing the best ball of his college career.
Fran McCaffery has been homebound for the last several days, but will travel with the Hawkeyes to Maryland Wednesday for their game against the Terrapins Thursday night.
“I know he’s been calling pretty much every player on our team throughout the week,” said the son, sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery. “I don’t know if he’s bored or something.
“He’s watching film with Sherm (assistant coach Sherman Dillard) on Zoom. It’s a miracle those two were able to get that to happen.”
Patrick was laughing as he said that Tuesday. He laughs a lot. He may be more of a free spirit than anyone in the program. But he also can play. Seldom has that been as evident in his Hawkeyes career as the last half-dozen games.
McCaffery has scored at least 11 points in each of them, and he had 16 and a season-high 18 in the last two. He also matched his season-high in rebounds in both of the last two games, with seven.
He has five 3-pointers over his last two contests, the first time he has done that.
“This game is really starting to slow down for me,” McCaffery said. “I’ve been able to get in a good rhythm. My 3-ball feels as good as it has ever since I’ve been at Iowa.
“I’ve always been somebody who’s been a good shooter in practice. In games sometimes it’s a little different just with flow and everything like that. I’m finding confidence in my shot and that kind of opens up the rest of my game.”
Tuesday, presumably, was Billy Taylor’s final day as acting head coach of the Hawkeyes. Which meant he got one last press conference to answer questions. Here were some of his thoughts on Patrick McCaffery:
“As you get more experience, you get more comfortable out there, you start to go through the league for a second time and you're starting to see some different coverages and you're starting to understand the games.
“I think for him things are coming together. His trajectory is continuing to go forward and increase. But it's great to see him playing the way that he's playing, he's playing with an elite level of confidence. He's shooting the ball well from 3. He's getting to the basket.
“He was playing really well over the summer, and then had a couple ankle injuries early in the fall. It was a long process to get him back and get him to 100 percent. But now he's feeling good physically, mentally and the sky's the limit. Great to see him starting to move toward his potential.”
Iowa can use every point, rebound and defensive stop from every available source at Maryland. Enter yet another McCaffery, fifth-year junior Connor. He sat out Iowa’s 71-59 win over Minnesota Sunday because of an arm contusion.
His status for Thursday’s game was uncertain before Iowa practiced Tuesday.
"From a coaching perspective,“ Taylor said, ”Connor's toughness, his intelligence and understanding of the game, defensive assignments, rotations — it's kind of that veteran leadership that you have.
“To have that veteran presence back, especially on a road game in kind of a hostile environment, would be important for us.”
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