By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – After having started the last 62 games for the Iowa men’s basketball team, Connor McCaffery might be seated next to his father when games start this season.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said at Iowa’s annual media day event on Monday that Connor McCaffery, a fifth-year senior combo guard, could come off the bench this season as Iowa learns to play with a vastly different lineup compared to last season.
“Connor’s role won’t change that much,” Fran McCaffery said. “He may be coming off the bench. It would change a little bit there. But he’s still going to play four positions. He’s still going to be the guy that is constantly talking to guys on the floor or on the bench.
“He understands what we’re doing as well as anybody I’ve ever coached. So when you’re in a crunch-time situation, and execution is absolutely paramount, you have to have your guys out there that know and understand what we’re doing, what we’re trying to do and what we need to do if the play breaks down, who lines up where, where we’re going with this, a press offense, a side-out-of-bounds play, out-of-bounds play under the basket or late-game possession.”
The 6-foot-5 Connor McCaffery has played mostly shooting guard, but is big enough to have also played small forward and skilled enough as a passer and ball handler to have played some at point guard.
He has led Iowa in assists 42 times and steals 20 times and ranked fourth in the nation last season in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.73) and 10th in the Big Ten in assists per game (3.6).
Connor McCaffery, who also plays for the Iowa baseball team, said Monday that it doesn’t matter to him if he starts. He just wants to do what is best for the team.
“I just think based on the roster we have this season we’re going to have a lot of moving parts coming out from different positions,” Connor McCaffery said. “I don’t care if I’m coming off the bench, or if I’m starting. That doesn’t matter to me. It’s not going to affect me one bit.”
Junior Joe Toussaint is expected to start at point guard since sixth-year senior Jordan Bohannon has shifted from point guard to shooting guard.
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Connor McCaffery is versatile enough to provide depth at both of those positions.
He also has a team-first mentality that makes it easy for his father to remove Connor from the starting lineup for the sake of the team.
“There’s never anything selfish-related,” Fran McCaffery said of his oldest son. “It’s always what’s best for the team and how can I help my teammates.
“When you’re like that you command a lot of respect.”
Iowa has to replace arguably the greatest player in program history in center Luka Garza, along with all-Big Ten swingman Joe Wieskamp, both of whom are now in the NBA.
Forward Jack Nunge and shooting guard C.J. Fredrick also have to be replaced after having transferred to Xavier and Kentucky, respectfully.
“I feel like (my role) could change on a game-by-game basis,” Connor McCaffery said Monday. “Just in scoring, passing, defending. What am I going to do? Who am I matched up with? Am I going to start? Am I going to come off the bench?
“All of that does change. But for the most part, I feel like I’m going to be kind of similar, a leader and try to help the young guys. Get them in the right places. Just continue on doing what I normally do and just off the bench instead of starting.”