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IOWA CITY — University of Iowa began its fall semester Monday morning, and Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery was on the golf course.
McCaffery rarely golfs, but it was the annual Chris Street Memorial Golf Tournament at Finkbine Golf Course. So McCaffery hit the links for charity, but made sure to find time for basketball.
The Hawkeyes have six newcomers this year after a 22-12 season and a second straight NCAA tournament. Five new players competed in the summer Prime Time League while guard Isaiah Moss stayed behind to finish some academic work. Moss qualified and enrolled, which 'thrilled' McCaffery.
'He was really excited when he was finally cleared,' McCaffery said. 'He's a terrific person and will be a good player.'
Moss, who stands 6-foot-6, played alongside two other Big Ten signees — Illinois guard D.J. Williams and Nebraska forward Ed Morrow — at Chicago Simeon. He reminds some observers of former Iowa guard Devyn Marble, who now plays for the Orlando Magic.
'He's a little different from Dev, but they're about the same size,' McCaffery said. 'Isaiah can really shoot the 3. But he's also athletic, he's got great burst, he's got great lift. I think once he just learns our system, he's going to be really good.'
Iowa returns four starters from last year's squad: point guard Mike Gesell, shooting guard Peter Jok, forward Jarrod Uthoff and center Adam Woodbury. Guard Anthony Clemmons started 12 games as well.
But the Hawkeyes must replace leading scorer Aaron White, who led the team in rebounding four straight seasons, and center Gabe Olaseni, who was the Big Ten's sixth man of the year. That puts a premium on rebounding, depth and style of play.
Among the players McCaffery expects to contribute include junior-college transfer Dale Jones, a 6-8 forward. Jones averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds and hit 45.4 percent of his 3-pointers last year at Tyler (Texas) Junior College.
'We need rebounding,' McCaffery said. 'When you lose our top rebounder for the last four years — and Gabe was obviously very good in that area as well — you need guys who can rebound the ball. For (Jones), with that length, he's got to rebound for us. If he does, now you've got something really special.'
Woodbury and Olaseni shared time at center, which leaves a void in the post. Woodbury expects to pick up more minutes, but without a true center on the bench, McCaffery looks to several different players to play the five for 15-20 minutes a game. Those who likely will see time there include Uthoff, Jones, freshman forward Ahmad Wagner and freshman Nicholas Baer. At Bettendorf, the 6-7 Baer averaged 15.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game as a senior in 2013-14. Baer, a walk-on, red-shirted last year.
'Nick's a guy that we're just thrilled to have,' McCaffery said. 'He's a bona fide Division I player. He's not a walk-on that we hope we can get some quality minutes out of eventually. He's a guy that can play. He'll be right in the middle of it.'
As for the starting lineup, the final slot likely comes down to Clemmons, a senior, and 6-9 sophomore forward Dominique Uhl. Clemmons has 25 career starts, mostly at point guard. Uhl averaged 10 minutes a game.
'Obviously it's (Uhl) and Clemmons,' McCaffery said. 'If (Uhl is) in there, we're bigger. If Clemmons is in there, we're smaller. Clemmons is a senior, too.'
MCCAFFERY ON LACK OF SIZE AND STYLE OF PLAY
'It's going to be interesting to see how everything unfolds because we've got a lot of different kinds of pieces. Obviously we're going to be a little bit different, we're not going to be as big. It puts more pressure on Woodbury and Uthoff, in particular. But others are going to have to step up. We've got a lot of options, but I think we have more versatility. We've got a lot of different guys who can make 3s. That's going to be important, too. If you're not as big, you've got to make 3s. Then you've got to take care of the ball.
'If you play essentially three guards — which is what you'd do if Pete's playing the three — what you need to be able to make sure is that you can still rebound. You can't have three guys at the 3-point line because one of them isn't rebounding. Because you're not really playing the three, you're playing two twos. So Pete has shown that he'll stick his nose in there and rebound. Like last year when Jarrod was playing the three, Whitey was playing the four, Jarrod rebounded. You need your forwards to rebound the ball. Now if (Jok's) playing the three and someone else is playing the two, that's going to really strengthen our 3-point shooting, especially with Jarrod at the four spot. We really have a lot of weapons from 3-point range.'
MCCAFFERY ON BRANDON HUTTON
'He is the epitome of a junkyard dog with incredible length. He's got a 6-11 wingspan. That's pretty amazing with a 6-5 guy that can run and jump but has the relentlessness to stay after it. Once he just tightens up his game, I think that's the big thing for him. To his credit, he was so powerful as a freshman in high school. He was a four-man, then he was a wing. He wants to play the two but can guard the one. He's a really unique player. I think has a chance to be really special once he gets his game tightened up.'
MCCAFFERY ON ANDREW FLEMING
'I think last year really helped him. He just plays with supreme confidence. He has incredible belief in himself and his own ability. He has a sense of what to do, when to do it. When to drive it, when to shoot it, when to move it on. He's very unselfish. He could miss five shots in a row and shoot the sixth one with unbelievable confidence that it's going in and make six in a row. He can bring it down, he can play the wing, you can post him up. He's got some strength and some toughness. He can do stuff in the paint. Very unique game, but I think one that will translate well at the college level.'
MCCAFFERY ON CHRISTIAN WILLIAMS
'He's really talented, and he's a guy that I think over time is just going to keep getting better. Another guy who can play more than one position. He can play the wing, he could bring it down. He and Fleming, we'll get them both ready to play the one.'
MCCAFFERY ON DOMINIQUE UHL
'I just think he's a guy that went through his freshman year coming off the bench and was solid for us. Really gave us quality minutes. Now he recognizes that he has to step it up, but he knows what to do now. A lot of times you think you know what to do but he really knows. He's a smart kid, he wants to be good, he's an unselfish guy. But he's got a versatile skill set as well. I want to see him score the ball in tight a little bit more than he did last year. He's got length and the athletic power and now he's got more girth to do that.'
MCCAFFERY ON AHMAD WAGNER
'The thing about him is he's kind of a mismatch guy. He's strong enough to be an undersized four, but he's versatile to guard threes. He drives it. He's really quick to the basket. He's consistently been kind of a double-double guy. He's not going to be a huge scorer, but he can score. He can rebound, and he can defend. But he can guard, he moves his feet, he can guard anybody from 6-2 to 6-11. That's a great talent to have.'
MCCAFFERY ON DALE JONES
'He can really shoot the ball. He's really long. Defensively, he's going to have to figure out if he's guarding the three, if he's guarding the four, he's got to improve in that area. But the thing I really liked about Dale was despite the fact that he was a great shooter and could really score in junior college, he also rebounded.'
MCCAFFERY ON BRADY ELLINGSON
'A different player than a year ago. When you think about the journey when you come in, you're in a boot, you think you're OK, then you have surgery, you try to play and it still hurts. It was kind of a nightmare for him in the beginning, but then what he was able to do is, I think once he figured out he was going to red-shirt, he settled down and he's smart. 'I'm going to learn the system, I'm going to see what I need to do.' He worked on his body, he's gotten stronger. Now he's ready to help us, and he's still got four years of eligibility.'
MCCAFFERY ON ISAIAH MOSS
'I felt confident that he would do what he needed to do. I'm thrilled for him. He was really excited when he was finally cleared. He's a terrific person and will be a good player. ... He's a little different from Dev, but they're about the same size. Isaiah can really shoot the 3. But he's also athletic, he's got great burst, he's got great lift. I think once he just learns our system, he's going to be really good.'
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