McCaffery's assistants staying put: 'Don't mess with happy'

Chad Leistikow

MARSHALLTOWN, Ia. – The most stable trio of Big Ten Conference assistant basketball coaches belongs to Iowa.

Barring something unexpected, Sherman Dillard, Andrew Francis and Kirk Speraw will be on the Hawkeyes’ bench alongside Fran McCaffery for the seventh straight season next fall.

With Iowa’s consistent progression of success under McCaffery, it wouldn’t have been shocking to see one of the Big Three assistants get poached for a head-coaching job elsewhere. The Hawkeyes rose to as high as No. 3 in the national polls last season and finished No. 25 after a second-round NCAA Tournament loss to eventual national champ Villanova.

“(Former NBA coach) Mike Fratello told me once when I was thinking about looking for another head coaching job … 'don’t mess with happy,'” Dillard said Tuesday night before an I-Club banquet at Elmwood Country Club. “Right now, I’m happy. I’m content the way things have gone here. If the right opportunity presents itself, yes, I would take a hard look. Be certain, I’m not out there looking.”

Iowa had been tied with Michigan for coaching stability -- at six years with the head coach and top three assistants together -- until a few weeks ago, when Detroit Mercy named Wolverines assistant Bacari Alexander its head coach.

Fran McCaffery, left, has been united with assistant coaches Kirk Speraw (rear) Sherman Dillard (front) and Andrew Francis (not pictured) for more than six years at Iowa.

McCaffery did have one staff departure become official Monday, when director of operations Billy Taylor was named the head coach for Division II Belmont Abbey, a Catholic college in North Carolina.