IOWA CITY, Iowa – The timeout that Fran McCaffery didn’t call in the final seconds of last Thursday’s 83-82 loss at Iowa State continues to be a hot topic.
McCaffery was asked about it after Thursday’s loss and again on Wednesday during a press conference.
He still has no regrets about not calling a timeout when Iowa took possession with 8.9 seconds left to play and trailing by one point.
“There are times when you can take a time-out where it might make more sense to take a time-out,” McCaffery said. “You’re giving them an opportunity to change personnel, change defenses, so you then have to in a time-out give them multiple play-call options, which is really complicated.
“So if you know who’s on the floor and what defense they’re in and you have play action called, why do you have to call time-out? You’re just going to come out and run what you just called.”
Iowa ran a play that resulted in senior forward Jarrod Uthoff missing a shot from 3-point range right before the buzzer sounded. McCaffery was pleased with the shot that Uthoff took from near the top of the key.
Uthoff has made a team-leading 25 3-point baskets this season.
“Everybody always says, what did you diagram, what ingenious thing did you come up with?” McCaffery said. “Typically, you have action, but ultimately somebody has got to make a play because they might take away that action.
“Now, in the case that you’re talking about, we got the exact shot we wanted and the exact guy we wanted to shoot it.”
McCaffery does regret not calling a timeout when Iowa failed to complete an inbound pass with approximately 1 minute to play. That sequence also involved Uthoff and senior guard Anthony Clemmons.
“I would trust those two guys again in the future to take the ball inbounds,” McCaffery said. “I’m not worried about those two guys. It’s unfortunate it happened then.”
FRAN ON BO: McCaffery had high praise on Wednesday for Bo Ryan, who abruptly retired as the Wisconsin head coach effective immediately after Tuesday’s victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“He’s done a fabulous job there,” McCaffery said. “It’s hard to do what he did once and to do it consistently well in this league is very difficult. And I think that’s what has been impressive to me because I’ve watched him from afar before I came into the league. I coached against him once when I was at UNC Greensboro. He came in and put his style in place, and they’ve been consistently good.”
Ryan, who turns 68 on Sunday, is the all-time winningest coach in Wisconsin history, with 364 wins over 14-plus seasons. Ryan led the Badgers to the NCAA tournament every year of his tenure, entering this season. Before Ryan came to Madison, Wisconsin had been to the NCAA Tournament only seven times in school history.
Wisconsin won seven Big Ten titles under Ryan, and his .717 winning percentage (172-68) in conference play is the best in Big Ten history.
Ryan had said in a statement in June that he would coach this season and then step down.
However, the Badgers are only 7-5 this season after winning 36 games last season and finishing as the NCAA runner-up to Duke. Wisconsin already has one more loss this season than it had last season.
“I want him to be able to retire when he wants to retire and go out his way,” McCaffery said. “I think we would all like to do that, and we don’t always get the chance to do that.”
ONE-HALF WONDER: McCaffery has an explanation for why Jarrod Uthoff only scored two of his career-high 32 points in the second half against Iowa State.
“I think fatigue could have been more of a factor on Thursday than maybe in some of the other games,” McCaffery said.
Uthoff never mentioned being fatigued when he was asked on Wednesday about his second half shutdown.
“They were a little more locked in on me in the second half,” Uthoff said of the Iowa State defenders. “And basically on offense we didn’t have much spacing and ball movement. That was a big key.”
The 6-9 Uthoff is the first Iowa player to score at least 32 points against Iowa State since Acie Earl recorded 32 points and nine rebounds against the Cyclones in 1991. The difference is that Uthoff scored all but two of his points in the first half.
“I haven’t seen too many performances like that in a half,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen any. So I know he feels bad about what happened in the second half, but I feel worse because I feel like, okay, what could I have done to help him. We went to him a few times, like I said, should we have gone to him more? Should we have tried to post him up more, tried to get him to the foul line, things like that. I probably feel worse about it than he does.”
WOODBURY ON FIRE: To say that Adam Woodbury struggled to make free throws in high school would be an understatement.
But Iowa’s senior center has certainly fixed that part of his game.
The 7-1 Woodbury has made 16-of-19 free throw attempts this season, which is a sizzling 84.2 percent.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work and time into it,” Woodbury said. “Honestly, the coaches have told me that my stroke was good enough to shoot around (that percentage) for pretty much my whole career. But I’ve worked at it a lot.
“My confidence wasn’t always there. And confidence at the free throw line is pretty big.”
McCaffery and Woodbury both praised Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw for helping to make Woodbury a better free throw shooter.
"I haven’t really worked with him lately, but definitely when I got here as a freshman," Woodbury said of Speraw. "He almost tried to change my shot to a right-handed shot. So he was working with some things and we put watched some video tape quite a bit and he tried to get my release point a little higher.
"And it ended up helping. It really did."