IOWA CITY, Iowa – One-and-done is a phrase often used to describe a heralded recruit who only plays one season at the collegiate level before moving on to the NBA.
Some of the elite programs such as Kentucky, Duke and Kansas are used to having one-and-done players come and go on a regular basis.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery doesn’t have that luxury, but he still has a team that is ranked ninth in both the coaches and the Associated Press poll.
The current Iowa team, which has four seniors and a junior in the starting lineup, has been built over time.
It was the same way when McCaffery coached at Siena for five seasons before taking the Iowa job in 2010. His last two teams at Siena both won 27 games. The Saints also defeated Ohio State in double-overtime in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
“And that’s the only teams I’ve ever had, so to me it’s no different,” McCaffery said of having veteran players. “I had 27 wins with the Siena team. We had seniors. We won in the NCAA Tournament because we had been through it all, and you’ve got a senior point guard hits two threes to beat Ohio State. It’s kind of the teams I’ve always had.”
Iowa’s four’s senior starters – Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons – have combined to start 365 games heading into Thursday’s matchup with Rutgers. The 7-foot-1 Woodbury has the most career starts at 121, followed by Gesell with 114.
Junior guard Peter Jok also will make his 38th career start for Iowa on Thursday against Rutgers.
“Like I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind coaching some one-and-dones, but I love being able to watch Pete and Jarrod and Woody and those guys just keep getting better and watching them figure it out and watching them compete, and then watching them help the younger guys do the same,” McCaffery said. “That’s more, I think, rewarding as a coach, at least I look at it that way.”
McCaffery sometimes uses tough love to motivate his players during the maturation process. He has used that approach with Jok and now it’s paying dividends.
The 6-6 Jok was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. He averaged 19.5 points and shot 58 percent from the field while leading Iowa to victories over Michigan State and Michigan.
“He responds very well to it because he knows it’s coming from a good place, he knows I love him, he knows I trust him, he knows I’m going to go back to him,” McCaffery said of Jok. “Some coaches, they yell at a guy and then they bench him for the rest of the game. I never felt like that accomplished anything.
“I can jump him for things that he’s not doing at that particular time, but I’ve got to give him a chance to go back in there and rectify, which he always does.”
Jok said he knows McCaffery always has his best interest.
“It just motivates me,” Jok said. “He’s just trying to help me out and make me a better.”
OUTSIDE HELP: McCaffery didn’t used to look for outside help when trying to build team chemistry.
“I’ve never been a guy to bring people in, McCaffery said. “You know, have all these people in, team-building exercises, I always thought that stuff was a waste of time. I’ll be honest with you.”
His opinion changed after former Penn State coach Ed DeChellis, who now coaches at Navy, convinced McCaffery to use the Navy Seals in order to build team chemistry. McCaffery was so impressed with the results that he has used the Navy Seals three times while coaching the Hawkeyes, including this past August.
“The first time I brought them in, I would concur, it was really interesting to watch,” McCaffery said. “We had a Navy Seal and an elite sniper, and to put these guys through a ton of different things, some outside, some in the pool, and watching — like in the beginning, you’re like, well, what are they doing?
“Then all of a sudden it all makes sense. But what’s beautiful is the kids have to figure it out. Nobody tells them. They have to figure it out on their own. Every time they come, they do a different sort of exercise, and this one was different than the last two. But they’re all incredibly valuable.”
MY BAD: McCaffery used nine players during Sunday’s 82-71 victory over Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
He regrets not using 10, or more specifically, not using freshman guard Christian Williams.
“I’m really kind of disappointed in myself, quite honestly, that I didn’t play him a little bit on Sunday at least, especially because of the way he played against Michigan State,” McCaffery said of the 6-6 Williams. “So we’ll try to rectify that moving forward.”
Williams has appeared in 10 of Iowa’s 17 games this season. He played four minutes off the bench against Michigan State last Thursday and had one assist and one rebound.