UNIVERSITY OF IOWA BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 1, 2019
Iowa - 74, Michigan - 59
Q. Fran, Garza gets in early foul trouble. Kriener comes off the bench and puts up 11-7 in the first half. How important was he to the equation tonight?
COACH MCCAFFERY: He was phenomenally important. But he is that every game. We need him. It's been exciting to watch him just continue to grow with his confidence. And getting a double-double against Michigan says a lot.
And it enabled us to keep Luka on the bench so that in the second half Luka could do what he did. Because we talk about this all the time. I struggle with -- he was out a long time. And I don't like to do that. But I don't want him to be hamstrung in the second half.
I want him to be able to go get buckets and do what he does. And that's what he did. And so obviously it worked really well.
Q. What is it going to do to the guys' confidence when they play like they played tonight, they see they can beat a top 5 team and pretty dominant?
COACH MCCAFFERY: It's interesting, because last year we lose to them in overtime. They were in the national championship game. So we were right there with them. It's a fine line, winning and losing.
You look at Penn State last night, 99-90, overtime with Purdue. Purdue is playing as well as anybody in this country. That's what this league is. Somehow you've got to figure out a way to be on the winning side, not just say, okay, we're close.
So, I think what it says about this team specifically is when you put it together from a game plan perspective and execute, we can be pretty good.
Q. You see how hard these guys work offseason, everything. What does it mean to you to just get them to experience a court storming like that?
COACH MCCAFFERY: As a coach, that's what it's all about. You want them to enjoy that kind of jubilation together, and then to see them celebrate in the locker room together.
But to be together in a game of this magnitude and compete and overcome -- couldn't make a shot early. And couldn't make a shot to start the second half. We didn't let them get away from us. We felt like rebounding was going to be critical today -- 48-36, that was impressive.
We felt like we needed to mix up defenses, which we did very well. The zone, the press and the man-to-man were all good. And we thought we were going to need our bench. And our bench was terrific tonight. And that's what you need if you're going to beat Michigan.
They're a top 5 team for a reason. They're projected to be a 1 seed. They still could be. And we have to recognize what we did and continue to do that because the next one will be just as difficult.
Q. Michigan shot 33 3s tonight. What did you do defensively to force them to settle for 3-pointers?
COACH MCCAFFERY: We played a lot of zone. I think that's one of the reasons why they shot so many. We were in the gaps. They kicked it to the corners. They shoot corner 3s if you're in man. They shoot 3s if you're zone. They've got a lot of guys that shoot them. Iggy and Matthews and Poole and Teske, they all shoot them. I think a lot of it was really just because we played zone.
Q. You like to see Joe rise to the occasion in a game of this magnitude?
COACH MCCAFFERY: It's great for him. It's great for us. I'm happy for him. I told him after the last game, I said you gotta recognize when you walk on the floor, you gotta view yourself as one of the best players out there; wouldn't trade you for anybody. So go out there and attack. Be aggressive. Shoot 3s. Drive it. Dunk it. Rebound it. Kick it.
You make a mistake, run back, guard your man. I'm not going to yank ya. I'm going to let you play through it. I'm going to tell you to shoot it again and develop confidence. But develop that swag that you need to be one of the premier players in this league and ultimately in the country. That's what he is.
Q. What does it say about Luka's maturity? The questionable foul, had to sit. And then the second half he's lights out.
COACH MCCAFFERY: He was frustrated at first, but he's pretty mature now. He calmed down. And I think what he does is he takes advantage of the opportunity to be on the bench and watch what's going on and figure out what can I do when I get back out there. And he was good when he went back in.
Q. Your press was really causing them some problems...
COACH MCCAFFERY: I thought we would give them some trouble with it. The reason we had that first spurt, we went up six or seven in the first half, so that really got the crowd involved, got our guys going. And I think our offense, after that, came a little bit easier than it was coming before.
And it can do that. And sometimes there can be holes that they exploit and you've got to get out of it. But it was really good today.
Q. In the outside world -- put different levels of importance on things. Where do you place a win like this?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well, I'm a realist. So you beat the fifth-ranked team, that's really good. It's good for our team. It's good for our program. It's good moving forward.
But it just makes the next game bigger. And so we can enjoy this for a very short period of time, go back to work, get ready for the next one.
Q. You guys had a big game against, a big first half against Michigan State last week. So what did you tell your team going into halftime tonight?
COACH MCCAFFERY: It was a different -- you're right, we were up in both games -- but it was a different feeling. I thought the rebounding at halftime was, had a big discrepancy. And they missed 19 shots. They got one back.
And if you're going to play Michigan, you can't give them second, third, fourth opportunities. They're a good offensive rebounding team. They have broken-play 3s, get it back, throw it back out, hit one. I thought that was critical.
So I thought we were further along in this one than we were the other one. But either way, they were going to make a run and they came at us in the second half, but we withheld it.
Q. You started Big Ten play 0-3. Bounced back from that. Lost two before this. Bounced back. What allows this team to be able to be resilient?
COACH MCCAFFERY: We're just more mature. I think we have a good team. I think we recognize that. We have confidence in ourselves, respect for this league. You lose to Minnesota on the road; they're a really good team. You beat Penn State on the road; they're a really good team.
Yeah, they haven't won much, but they're playing everybody tough. So you've got to beat them. And we did. So Michigan State's really good. They beat us. Come back and win tonight. When you're in this conference, that's what you sign up for.
Q. You guys talk about needing to finish games when they have leads. You have to be happy with the way that they were able to put their foot on that tonight?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Yeah, we had a couple of turnovers there late when they started pressing. That was a little bit upsetting and something we've got to work on. But we did a good enough job, made our free throws in that situation and took care of business.
Q. Michigan cut to five, I think, midway through the second half. What did you do to get your team --
COACH MCCAFFERY: The weird thing about that was the lineup we had on the floor. We had a lot of our guys off the bench, and that tells you the kind of team we have. That team was able to take it from five to 14. But it also enabled us to keep the other group fresh. I didn't feel like I had to go back to them early, especially with Luka, who had his third. So it was impressive.
Q. Between Sunday night and tonight, how would you describe your guys? Were they calm after losing two straight?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Very business-like. When you have older guys, they've been through it. We've had to overcome injury this year, a big championship in New York. That was a long time ago, seems like.
But we've been through a lot this group. Had some great victories when they were freshmen. Last year wasn't as much fun. But we were a lot closer than maybe our record would have indicated in terms of the kind of team we had. And we were shallow in the back court. This year we're deeper across the board especially in the back court. But also in the front court.
Q. Beilein called you a great team. Is that an adjective you would use?
COACH MCCAFFERY: John's a class guy. I remember when they beat us in the conference tournament. He said to me, he said you're going to have a lot of fun next year with this young team you have, which was a really classy thing to say.
And I appreciated that. And I think we've known each other for a long time. I don't think he said it to make me feel good; I think he really believed it. So the fact that he said what he said tonight, I think is indicative of what he thinks about our team. And I appreciate that.
I just want to say -- I want to commend our Dance Marathon group. A lot of those kids showed up tonight. They're heading over to dance. And it's amazing what they do every year. I know some of you have been over there to see it. But it's truly one of the most incredible things I've ever seen in all my years of coaching and being at an institution. I've been at a number of institutions, what they do just warms your heart. So I just want to give a shout-out to those guys. Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports