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Patrick McCaffery’s return was perfect from 3-point distance, and scoreboard
Iowa junior returns after sitting out 6 games to deal with anxiety, and was cheered loudly even before he sank 3 3-pointers
IOWA CITY — The Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd of 13,907 gave Patrick McCaffery a loud and warm welcome Sunday just for entering the game.
The junior Iowa men’s basketball forward acknowledged their applause and cheers at the 13:55 mark of the first half, then gave them more to roar about two minutes later when he made the first shot he took, a 3-pointer.
“It was awesome,” said McCaffery’s father and head coach, Fran McCaffery.
“I think the thing most impressive to me was that as soon as he got it he didn’t think about it. He didn’t hesitate. He just pulled. He did the same for the other two.”
McCaffery also made the other two 3-pointers he tried, and had nine points in 13 minutes in the Hawkeyes’ 93-82 win over Rutgers.
It was his first playing time since Jan. 1. He had sat out the last six games while dealing with anxiety. In a postgame press conference, he said he would discuss his health issue after the season, preferring to focus on basketball talk.
However, he did say “It’s been a pretty emotional couple of weeks. Obviously, going out there, getting the love from Hawkeye fans made me feel really great and made it feel like it was worth it to come back, and good for me to work through those things.
“I’m just truly appreciative and grateful for the Hawkeye fans that came out today. Obviously, that ovation meant a lot.
“I’ve had, I swear to God, 150 meetings the past couple weeks, listening to everybody’s perspective. Coming back on my terms, coming back when I felt ready, coming back when I want to — then once I felt good mentally, you’ve got to get ready physically, get my body right.”
McCaffery said his legs got heavy. But he did a lot of things in a short time on the court, including two assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
His brother, Connor McCaffery, assisted on all three of Patrick’s 3-pointers.
“He’s always looking out for me,” Patrick said. “I think he really wanted me to have a good day.”
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