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We've had this discussion a bunch of times here before that it may not be realistic to expect Iowa's football program to contend for national titles every single year, largely due to the recruiting obstacles that make it difficult for the Hawkeyes to reel in elite talent year after year.
We've never really examined this issue from a basketball perspective, though, so I wanted to see what you all thought. Simply put, is it possible and/or realistic for Iowa to develop a basketball program on par with a Duke, UNC, Michigan State, Kansas or Kentucky where there are realistic national title aspirations just about every single season? What do you all think?
Its possible. One clear indication would be the recruits we would be able to bring in 2014. We could only bring in one for 2013, and got an outstanding instate prospect in Jok. If we were able to continue to bring in top talent, whether instate or out of state, then its wholly possible to go on a run of extended excellence. If things tail off...well then, you do the math.
Granted, talent alone doesn't guarantee anything. Look at Kentucky...roster full of 4☆ and 5☆ players, and they cant even beat a Robert Morris on the road, because their coach can't really coach at all. Excellent coaching is a must, and something I think we have. Coach Fran hopefully doesn't get poached away for some glamor job.
It's hard to match the history of the Duke's and Kentucky's....
That said, our history could be dramatically different had either Ralph Miller or Lute Olson stayed around. Miller went on to spend some 19 years at Oregon State and ended UCLA's run of 13 consecutive Pac 10 titles in 1980, winning the title four of the next five years. Then, of course, Olson leaving Iowa to spend the next 25 years at Arizona, where he won 11 conference titles and numerous accolades.
So, sure, we could already have had more stature.... maybe we need a great coach who likes to farm on the side.
I think Fran is the man to get IA to the next level that we have been waiting for since the unfortunate mistake of canning Dr. Tom. I also think Fran does not view IA as a stepping stone. I expect to see his son Connnor play for him and IA in 2018(?).
The one thing about the great basketball programs is they have down years. Look at Kentucky who lost in the 1st round of NIT and were Ntl. Champs last season.
I also think it's easier to recruit in basketball than in football. A good player in Iowa could also be a good player in a more populated state such as Texas or California. Take Gesell for example. He's pretty good as a freshmen. I'd say he probably would have been pretty good had he played anywhere else.
Football is another story. You could probably take Iowa's Shrine All-Stars and they probably still couldn't beat a state champion team from Texas or Florida.
A basketball's program is more about the coaching. While Kentucky, Duke, N.Carolina, Kansas...etc. have storied programs, they do have down years. Kentucky for example has had good years and bad years along with coaching changes.
I don't see recruiting wars in BB as I do in football. Look at the recruiting of Woodbury. Many people would think that if North Carolina's Roy Williams is sitting in a kids' living room, how could he pass up a basketball school like that! But it happens in basketball.
Also in basketball, recruiting classes are smaller. So, if the pot of great players is full, more teams have a chance to get great players from the pot. In football, you need several good players to have a team like what Alabama puts on the field. In basketball, you only need one great player who can make a difference in a team of 5. Look at Davidson a few years ago. They had 1 outstanding player along with 4 average players and they had a magical season.
So, I don't really see a ceiling for any basketball team if they have a good coach who can recruit a few good players each year and teach fundamentals.
No. In basketball, one superstar can completely alter a team's fate. It's much easier for a Butler or a New Mexico or a VCU to reach that upper echelon in basketball than in football.
I think Iowa can go on a nice string of great seasons, any team really can. Do I expect Iowa to be a sweet 16 team every year? No, let's be realistic. Until Iowa is a repeated sweet 16 team, I could develop that expectation, but I certainly wouldn't expect that now. As Fish said, any team can be good. Butler made the title game just a few years ago, and they actually did it twice. An elite coach and one elite player can make a basketball team real good, and I do think Fran is a good coach. With Chicago so close, its not crazy to think Iowa could land an elite player, they have before. That's why I like college basketball more. Its generally more wide open to everyone. Any team can surprise. History is relevant, to an extent.
"I was brought in here to change the culture. I'm going to coach with passion" - Fran McCaffery.
Great discussion so far in this thread, guys. Really enjoying reading your thoughts.
yes, there's a ceiling of sorts. only a handful of programs come to mind as being truly elite--offering players the chance to be competitive for a national title year in--year out. i don't mean vcu or new mexico. i mean duke, nc, ky, ukansas. maybe louisville, syracuse, and indiana. conceivably msu....it isn't a real long list, regardless. teams don't get added to it easily or quickly. is gonzaga now on it? maybe--maybe not.
these teams have solid coaches and special rosters. iowa can't match those rosters any time soon.
the hawks can aspire to be a routine threat to win the b10, tho. i don't regard wisconsin as an elite team on the national stage, but (for whatever damnable reason) they're almost always in the conference picture. if iowa can get to that level, we might imagine that once or twice a decade they'll field a special team capable of going national.
i agree that the class of 2014 will be important. the current players are lots better than most recent ones, but likely don't define the ceiling we might hope for.
(starch, i understand your point about miller and olson, but wonder if ralph would have been ralph or lute would have been lute if they had stayed at iowa. lute quite explicitly saw a ceiling at iowa and left for az to get out from under it.)
I'll amend my statement to that I don't know if Iowa could ever reach "blue blood" status (think Duke, Kansas, etc.) but there's no reason Iowa can't compete for Final Fours and Championships. Whether or not that's perceived as a ceiling, I'm not sure, but that's where I stand on it.
If they get the right pipeline they could make some noise. I honestly dont know much about the assistant coaches there but if they hire a guy with connections to a certain powerhouse area it would help. They must be able to recruit nationally also.
Michigan St has the Detroit and area line
Duke and NC have the tobacco road area locked down
Indiana has the Indy and DC area locked down
If Iowa could get the Chicago pipeline down it would be there
Also another not very educated saying by me. It doesnt seem that Fran is a tireless recruiter. I know thats probably jsut becasue I dont follow Iowa as clsoe as other programs, but in the summer at the AAU events you always hear of Izzo, Crean, Beline (sp?), Self and others always being there. You dont hear of Fran there much. That could be becasue the reporters I follow dont say hes there or something though. Not saying he isnt a good recruiter or he doesnt try it jsut doesnt seem that he is out there as much as others possibly are. Like I said that could be just becasue Im not following the right guys, other than Todd, that write about Iowa basketball.
And everything I just said could be completely wrong
mkillian247 on twitter..... I say a lot of stuff you wont care about.
Just some extra information, because I know what you mean. I don't know much of anything about other coaching staffs outside the head coach.
Fran is a pretty tireless recruiter in our eyes, anyways. He went to every single AAU game for both Woodbury and Gesell (they were teammates) their last year of high school. He has go straight from home games to Chicago to catch numerous kids playing. He really gets out as much as he can, but at the same time, he seems to keep a lot of his efforts close to the chest. I'd say he really spends more time in Chicago than any other area, but he has been to Des Moines a lot this year to watch Jok play, even after securing his LOI.
As for the assistants, I personally like what Iowa has right now. Kirk Speraw played for Iowa in the 70s, and held a head coaching position at UCF. He recruited Micheal Jordan's son to play there, and made the tournament 4 times. After being fired, Fran brought him back to Iowa (his second time as an assistant here). I also really like both Sherman Dillard and Andrew Francis, and the players really seem to enjoy those guys too. The staff Iowa has right now is leaps and bounds better than what we have seen in a while as Hawk fans. Dillard has head coaching experience, but not a great record as one. I don't really know much about him before Iowa. Andrew Francis is the youngest I believe, and has been an assistant at Villanova under Wright and Siena under McCaffery before coming to Iowa. I would think if any assistant got a job opportunity elsewhere, it would be Francis. He has been really big in helping the development in both White and Basabe.
Thank you for the info, I really appreciate it. Im glad you took time to explain that to me becasue, like I said, I didnt know much about the assistants. Not even sure why I chimed in when I didnt know much to begin with
Leads to more conversation so I don't mind. Plus, I like seeing what people outside of Iowa know about them. Its always fun.
And I'll add, where was MSU before Magic Johnson? Of course, the coaches have to build on that superstar's legacy, or you'll just turn into Indiana State after Larry Bird.
UI-Regarding Dillard, my friend played for him at Indiana State so I asked him about Dillard when Fran hired him. I dug up the email response he sent me if you're interested.
"He's a recruiting machine. Can sell ice to Eskimos. He can go in the hood and recruit and can go to Beverly hills and do the same. Parents and kids will love him. Basketball wise he's very strong. Incredible motivator. Maybe just a little lacking x and o wise."
Thanks for sharing that. Those characteristics sound perfect for an assistant coach, and I'm sure he's developed in the X&O's aspect lately to make him an even better coach.
Wow, that's interesting. If you ever get the chance to see the bench on TV, watch how he acts. I can definitely see why people like Dillard a lot. He seems to carry himself really well. Just comes off as a likable guy. Hopefully Iowa starts to snag some bigger fish out of the Midwest now that Fran and Co have shown some improvement.
This is what I find disturbing about the whole Kentucky thing. In that game @ Robert Morris, there wasn't a kid who wasn't rated below a 4☆ 94 rating who played in that game. I looked it up. 3 were 5☆ recruits. And thats what Calipari can do with that much talent? Now hes got 6 of the Top 14 (as rated by 247) players committed...all 5☆'s. There's talk that they will be the preseason #1 team. But hes got more commits than open scholarships. Hes trying to talk a couple of players into transferring, because he can't win without the über talent.
I can only assume Ralph and Lute would have had similar success as what they had before they came to Iowa, enjoyed at Iowa, then had after they left. Both had that special combination of recruiter and coach. I thik one has to give "legend" coaches their due, particularly when they "due it" at multiple schools and over time.
ESPN has their top 50 schools over the past 50 years blog going on right now. I have no reason not to believe we would easily be in the top half of that list had Lute stayed to coach and tend the garden. Football differ somewhat from basketball programs, as some football programs can survive the changing of the guard. It's hard for me to think of a top basketball program whose reputation isn't specifically tied to one, maybe two, well-tenured coaches. I could be wrong on that, but I can't come up with a variance on just my first morning cup of coffee...
I would amend this comment to "one superstar AND ONE GREAT COACH can completely alter a team's fate..."
Personally, I see no ceiling for Iowa's MBB program as long as Fran is there, and we continue to recruit at the same level...we could easily be in the same class as Sparty or the Hoosiers starting as early as next year and continuing for the next decade.
I don't think there is any ceiling with our basketball program. I know the state of Iowa doesn't produce a ton of big-time talent but with Chicago just a few hours away I could see Iowa really start to bring in some talent from there. It would be really nice if Fran started with Ulis and Cunningham in the 2014 class.
Depends on how high of a ceiling we're talking about. IA was more often ranked in the top 25 under Lute and Dr. Tom than not. Could we make the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 one or two times in a decade? Probably. Can we be a national or Big 10 contender year after year, no! Iowa basketball started in 1902 and since then we have danced 22 times, reached Sweet 16 seven times, elite 8 four times and have had three final 4 appearances. We can't get the kind of players Mich St or Indiana do. Looking at the list of prospect in the coming years there are a few 5 star players Iowa is in the contention for, that list is many times as long for schools like In, Mich St, and Mich. and it takes more than one good player to get you there unless you're talking about players of Magic or Bird Caliber.
This post was edited by Hawklove 13 months ago
That's what I was referring to. With the right coach and some stud recruits, I think a lot of programs have the potential to be at that level for a 2-3 year span, but very few programs can sustain that level over the long term, such as 8 or 9 years out of 10. I realize that even programs like UNC, Duke and Kentucky have down years, but those years are still at least mediocre, and it's usually just one year before they're right back in the mix at the top of the heap.
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