A new era begins Sunday for Fran McCaffery's Hawkeyes
IOWA CITY, Ia. – After more than 130 games and four years, Fran McCaffery finds himself in a new position Sunday as Iowa's basketball coach.
When he looks around the Hawkeye locker room, he won't see Devyn Marble or Melsahn Basabe or Zach McCabe.
That trio was a mainstay in every game of McCaffery's first four seasons at Iowa, a core group that led the Hawkeyes back from the dormant Todd Lickliter years to consecutive 20-win seasons and – last March – an NCAA Tournament bid. McCabe is Iowa's all-time games leader, with 137. Marble and Basabe logged 136.
Although Sunday's 2:07 p.m. game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena doesn't count in the record books – Rollie Massimino-coach Northwood (Fla.), an NAIA school, is the opponent – it marks a new era for McCaffery.
Replacing Marble is the biggie. He scored 1,694 career points – No. 5 on Iowa's all-time list – and logged 136 games as McCaffery's backcourt staple. Marble is now scoring points for the NBA's Orlando Magic.
Iowa's guard rotation is the biggest question mark, personnel-wise, going into the season. Fans who enter for $5 Sunday (youths and students are free) hope to get a peek at junior-college transfer Trey Dickerson, a true point guard who has dazzled in practices with his offensive quickness.
He could be a perfect complement for starting point guard Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons, both steady juniors.
"We kind of know what we're going to get from Mike, and what we're going to get from Clemmons," McCaffery said, continuing to mention Dickerson's "energy level" as a plus.
Josh Oglesby and Peter Jok are the likely shooting guards. How McCaffery juggles those five guys in the backcourt is something he'll try to figure out.
McCaffery said a few players are gimpy, so it's possible not everyone will play Sunday. Freshman Brady Ellingson is definitely out with a foot injury.
After this, Iowa won't play again for another 12 days, and that one counts – the season opener against Hampton on Nov. 14. McCaffery said he wasn't worried about the gap between games.
"The thing that we wanted to do with this exhibition is play a good team that has a great coach and challenge ourselves," McCaffery said. "So we scheduled this game with that in mind."
The teams: Iowa vs. Northwood (Fla.), 2:07 p.m.
The coaches: Iowa's Fran McCaffery has a 325-240 record in his 19-year career (74-63 at Iowa). Northwood's Rollie Massimino led Villanova to the 1985 NCAA championship.
On the air: The game will air on Mediacom Connections Channel 22, or online at BTN Plus.
Tickets: $5 at the door. Youths and students are free.