What we learned from Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery's media day press conference

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa men's basketball held its annual media day Monday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Head coach Fran McCaffery kicked things off at 2 p.m. with a press conference.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery answers questions during media day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.

Here are some highlights:

Expectations for Garza and Nunge

Media days are famous for hyperbole — from fans, media, coaches and players alike. It's easy to make big claims when November is still a few weeks away.

Still, McCaffery's response to a question regarding expectations for freshmen Luka Garza and Jack Nunge stood out, because Iowa's coach is usually one guy who's not prone to hyperbole.

"Very high," he said. "Both of them are tremendous players. They're incredibly versatile. I think they come ready. It's not like we have to develop them. They're both very good players. They have versatile skill-sets; they can pass, dribble and shoot. When you have two 6-11 guys that can do all of those things, then you have high expectations."

More:McCaffery on college basketball cheating: 'I've turned programs in and I'll continue to'

Tyler Cook's productive offseason

Tyler Cook dominated inside last year. But there were times aspects of the rest of his game were in need of development. McCaffery said his sophomore big man improved in those areas this offseason, including his outside shot, which McCaffery said "has gone to the next level."

"With Tyler Cook, the next step in his development is really simple: It's just consistency," McCaffery said. "He was phenomenal at times. Sometimes his turnover numbers were a little bit higher. But I think what you're going to see is a guy who has much better pace to his game right now. He has really matured, and I'm very impressed.

"Now I think what you're seeing is a guy that is shooting the ball better from the outside, handling the ball and passing it really well. He always had that skill, but sometimes he would go too fast or he would go too soon and turn it over. He's not doing that. He's redounding out of his area a lot more."

Starting lineup, rotation

McCaffery said he's still got some work to do with his rotation, but he doesn't see the three returning starters — Cook, Jordan Bohannon and Isaiah Moss — losing those spots.

"(Nicholas) Baer, we talked about him. Does he start?" McCaffery said. "Do we keep him as the sixth man? Then who's the fifth starter after that? Then Baer would be six if he doesn't start, and we'll go from there."

McCaffery said he's "not worried at all" about point guard depth behind Bohannon. And he's happy with the overall scoring ability of the guys projected to play in backup roles.

"We have guys that can score off the bench," he said. "That's typically the biggest problem you have when you go to your bench — you don't have guys that can consistently score the ball, and your team goes down when those guys come in. That's not the case at all with our team."

External expectations

McCaffery is fully aware of the outside excitement and expectations surrounding his team. He did nothing to quell those Monday afternoon. Instead, he embraced them.

"You want expectations," he said. "You want fans to be excited about your team. It's not something that ever concerns me. It's not something I've ever shied away from. I don't sit up here and try to present a doom and gloom so that if we do win games, we create the perception that we somehow overachieved. I have an expectation for this team. I think they have an expectation for themselves, and I'm excited about it."

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at mbain@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.