McCaffery brothers are about to team up again as Iowa Hawkeyes, playing for their father

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — If you wanted insight into the McCaffery brothers, perhaps the best way would have been to attend basketball practice at Siena 12 years ago.

Fran McCaffery was the coach. His oldest son, Connor, was already a student of the game. Patrick was going through a “Power Rangers” phase, with little interest in sports.

“Connor would come to Siena practice looking at plays with my dad. And I would come just in a costume running around,” Patrick McCaffery recalled Wednesday. “It kind of shows the differences in our personalities a little bit.”

The McCafferys relocated to Iowa City in 2010, when Fran was named head coach of the Hawkeyes. And they’re all together at Carver-Hawkeye Arena these days, bonded by family and basketball.

Iowa opens its season at 8 p.m. Friday with a home game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Connor McCaffery, the kid who was breaking down film starting in kindergarten, will be in charge of his father’s offense as a redshirt sophomore starting point guard. Patrick is a true freshman forward, who will come off the bench in his Hawkeye debut.

“He throws me the ball and I score the ball. That’s kind of how it works,” Patrick said of his on-court relationship with his brother. “He’s very serious. Very smart. I’m just kind of goofy, just say whatever pops in my head. It works really well together.”

Patrick McCaffery stands for a portrait during Iowa basketball during media day in Iowa City Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019.

Patrick McCaffery scored 12 points on a team-high 12 shot attempts in Iowa’s Monday exhibition win over Lindsey Wilson College. His final points came on one of 11 assists accumulated by Connor. Patrick finished the play with a dunk.

“I didn’t think about who I was passing it to in that situation. I kind of just saw someone open and I just threw it,” Connor McCaffery said. “But then after the fact, I looked and saw it was him. That was pretty cool to see.”

Fran McCaffery said he doesn’t have time during games to consider the fact that he’s coaching two of his sons. But he certainly appreciates it during practices.

“It's a beautiful thing to come to practice every day and see them both, to have them out there in the Hawkeye uniform and remember when we first got here they would sit across the way or come to practice and sit with the managers and shoot on the side,” Fran McCaffery said. “And then when they're both out there together sharing the ball and making plays together, it's terrific.”

The McCafferys also starred together for two years at Iowa City West. That was when the dream of teaming up again on their father’s Hawkeye team started to take shape.

Connor was also a standout baseball player, and has been able to participate in both sports at Iowa.

Patrick, who sprouted up to 6-foot-9, didn’t know until his freshman year of high school whether he’d be good enough to play basketball at the Big Ten Conference level. By his senior year, he was a four-star recruit who was ranked 86th in the nation by 247Sports' Composite.

Iowa guard Connor McCaffery (30) hugs his brother Jack after a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

“I wouldn’t say it was even something we outright talked about,” Connor said of reuniting with Patrick as Hawkeyes. “I feel like it was something we almost expected without saying.”

And now their moment is here — a trio of McCafferys bench trying to push a new-look team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Connor McCaffery remains a student of the game, still poring over film, watching closely every one of his turnovers to figure out what he did wrong. There were 43 of them last year, but also 102 assists.

Connor also remains the dutiful big brother. Patrick outgrew his costume phase in second grade. That’s when he picked up basketball. He leans on his big brother for advice navigating that world.

“It’s a lot of new stuff,” Patrick McCaffery said of basketball practices at the college level, the ones he wasn’t really paying attention to at Siena.

“Having (Connor) help guide me throughout this year is going to be really crucial for me.”

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.

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