Rick Barnes, Hawkeye coaches share longtime bond

Chad Leistikow

NEW YORK – Three guys that were counselors at a Lefty Driesell basketball camp in 1978 reunited at Madison Square Garden, 36 years later.

Texas 17th-year head coach Rick Barnes glowingly recalls meeting Fran McCaffery, now Iowa's coach, and current Hawkeye assistant Sherman Dillard long ago at the University of Maryland camp.

"We all kind of started getting into coaching the same time," Barnes recalled. "It's what we wanted to do."

The three played against each other in the counselor games at Driesell's camp. They became close and have remained friends.

On Thursday night, Barnes' Longhorns were facing McCaffery, Dillard and the Hawkeyes.

"We all became friends in that situation," Dillard said. "And you know how you can become a friend with someone, you don't have to call them every week or every day. It's one of those things we know in our hearts there's a relationship there, and there's a level of respect for one another."

Dillard and Barnes grew a closer bond when Barnes, then the head coach at George Mason, was in his mother's living room, recruiting Dillard's brother, Ricky, to play for the Patriots.

Ricky, who died of cancer at age 39, played at George Mason for four seasons.

Sherm Dillard credits that Maryland basketball camp for helping him earn a spot in McCaffery's circle. He was brought on as an assistant when McCaffery was hired at Iowa in 2010.

Barnes, meanwhile, said he roots for McCaffery and Dillard from afar. He respects their hard work.

"Neither one of those guys were born with a silver spoon in their mouth," Barnes said. "They've earned it."

No sight-seeing: Texas arrived in New York on Tuesday afternoon. Iowa was still practicing in Iowa City on Wednesday.

The Hawkeyes arrived in New York City late Wednesday evening, just in time to grab dinner at an Italian restaurant and hit the hotel on the eve of the showdown with Texas.

"I trust coach," Iowa's Adam Woodbury said of the travel plans. "Whatever he wants to do."