IOWA CITY — North Florida Coach Matthew Driscoll gave the most honest public scouting report of an opposing team in the history of college basketball Monday night.
OK, maybe that’s an embellishment. But in the aftermath of an 80-70 loss at Iowa, Driscoll’s assessment of the 9-4 Hawkeyes is rare in today’s world.
Here’s Driscoll, 50, talking about a statistic The Gazette provided BTN on Iowa getting outscored 61-13 after halftime through the first media timeout by Power Five opponents:
“I would say this: that’s something that obviously they’ve got to correct. They’ve got to figure out exactly what it is. Is it a personnel situation? That’s hard for coaches to do, change personnel at the half because you’d like to start the same five.
“That might be something to look at.
Then, Driscoll talked about Iowa’s confidence problem, which is what he spotted from breaking down on Iowa video:
“Coach (Fran McCaffery) is a great friend of mine. A lot of their staff is great because I’m 50, I’m old, I’ve been around. The one thing about your guys is and I know the next question is going to be what about our shooting percentage, why don’t we shoot the ball so well, yada, yada, yada.
“Here’s your problem with your guys: Your guys, they get down when they miss a shot. Coach doesn’t get on them, coach doesn’t sub them, Coach doesn’t do anything. Your guys have to get a little bit thicker skin and understand I’m going to miss some shots but I can’t let it affect the next one. Just from watching your games on tape and preparing for this game, that’s the one thing I saw is maybe a head drop or some things like that where guys, you could just see. It’s not a confidence thing, because obviously they’ve got guys who can shoot the ball. It’s not a confidence that they can’t make them. It’s a confidence thing where if they miss like one they’re like, ‘Man.’ So I think that’s something that they’ve got to fix, and I think it’s personal. I think they need to fix it.”
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So, how does Iowa fix it? Here’s Driscoll’s advice:
“I think one of the best things for all of us is to look in the mirror and say to yourself, ‘What do I do? What does coach want me to do? How can I best serve this team and then have the heart? That’s the key. The heart to understand; that’s what I need to do. So if my job is, No. 20 (Jarrod Uthoff) to shoot 3s, then I need to shoot 3s. Or drive and post up. If I’m No. 30 (Aaron White), then I need to be going to rim and dunking on guys or taking wide-open 3s. If I’m 3 (Peter Jok), I need to be taking wide-open 3s like he got tonight because he’s just an OK shooter and then drive in and play off two feet because he can drive and he’s got the midrange game. If I’m 10 (Mike Gesell), I need to be a little bit more aggressive earlier in the clock. Because most of his shots, if you look, are late-clock shots and because of that, the pressure is a little bit tighter and it’s a little bit further out. And he’s such a good player he can make shots earlier.
“And with 0 (Gabe Olaseni), it doesn’t matter because he’s just a ... I love that kid. That kid’s a beast. I think they need to know what they are. We have a saying, do what you do, be who you are.
“Like against Purdue (a 73-70 North Florida win), we came back and like coaches were rolling over in their graves because guys were trying to come back and we’re shooting 3s in the first five seconds because that’s what we do. And the guys were busting them because we had the confidence to do that. So I think if you guys do that, you guys are scary because you guys can rebound the ball, you’re long, you don’t foul a lot (winks and smiles) and because of that, I think you guys are dangerous.”
Driscoll pulled Olaseni aside after the game for a few words of encouragement.
“I just told (Olaseni) I said, ‘Listen to me son. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to cry. Don’t be afraid to have some emotions but don’t ever allow what happened to your father to control your life. Because you can’t change what happened to him. The only thing you can do is be who he wanted you to be and not feel sorry for yourself. So if you have a sense of a certain day where you feel that, let it all out and cry and get rid of it and do what you’re supposed to do because that’s what he’d want to do.”
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery was asked afterward if Driscoll’s assessment of his players’ body language was accurate:
“Well, yeah, it’s accurate. He’s a really good coach. He’s been around. I’ve known him a long time. He’s done a terrific job there. I guarantee, he’s watched every one of our games probably twice. So he is qualified to make those remarks. But, I mean, so are you. You’ve seen it.
I think in particular with guys that know they’re really good shooters that aren’t making shots, they tend to (hang head low). All I ask you to do is keep battling defensively, don’t turn it over, and make sure you take good shots. I tell them to keep shooting. We set those guys up. So I keep coming to you. I don’t take the green light off you.
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But don’t start hunting shots, don’t start driving into packs of people and turning it over, don’t become something you’re not. At some point you got to step up and make shots, like what Josh (Oglesby) and Pete both did tonight.”
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