Video & Transcript: Hawkeyes Come Up Just Short Against Tennessee
THE MODERATOR: We’ll bypass the opening statement from Coach and start with your questions for the Iowa players — Joe Wieskamp, Isaiah Moss and Luka Garza all with us. Questions for the players?
Q. Isaiah, what got into you at halftime? What sparked the comeback in the second half?
ISAIAH MOSS: That just shows our resilience. Like the game against Cincinnati, we don’t give up. We know if we continue to fight we give ourselves a chance to win.
JOE WIESKAMP: At halftime — obviously it wasn’t the start we wanted — we had a decision to make. We could either fold and hand it to them. Or we could fight back. I think we showed that in the second half. And we were able to take it to them in overtime.
LUKA GARZA: Just kind of like in the Cincinnati game, when we had that timeout when we were down 18-5, in that timeout in the locker room at halftime you could tell something was about to happen. All the guys were communicating with each other, believing in each other. Our leaders were stepping up and talking to each other to make sure we weren’t going to go down without a fight. And we were going to leave everything out on the floor.
Q. Luka, the reverse of that, what happened in the overtime? How were they able to take hold of it so quickly?
LUKA GARZA: Grant Williams hit some big shots. He’s a big-time player. And we defended him well. He had a couple turnarounds and different stuff like that.
And I think we executed well down the stretch when we needed to toward the end and got a couple of layups to keep us in it. But I think if we could have stopped him, it was hard. Those were really well-defended shots. Tyler did a great job in those moments on him. Just credit to him for that.
ISAIAH MOSS: What Luka said, he’s made tough shots down the stretch. Tyler did a good job on him the whole game, I thought. But made great shots.
JOE WIESKAMP: Credit to Tennessee. They hit some tough shots. Grant Williams, obviously, the SEC Player of the Year. But like he said, we executed down the stretch, too.
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Q. Joe, seemed like a very disruptive defense from Tennessee that had you guys out of your rhythm in the first half. Is that something that you were able to get back on track in the second?
JOE WIESKAMP: Yeah, I think so. Not the first half that we had hoped for. But you could tell the resiliency and the fight of us in the second half. I think we kind of got into their space a little bit in the second half. We were able to turn them over quite a bit and execute on offense.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. It took a lot of courage to come back, to get to the overtime; they decide to put Schofield on the bench and go big. Did that surprise you?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Yeah, I figured he’d be out there. He played well in the game. He’s one of their better players. But again, I’ve got enough trouble coaching my own team. So whatever Rick decides to do, I have great respect for him, respect for that team.
They were No. 1 for a very long time this year for a reason. It’s not often that you get down 25, come back and tie it. So very pleased with the effort and concentration and execution of our guys to a man.
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Q. There’s a lot of talk from your players about what happened at halftime. Was it more technical changes, emotional? Where did you try and strike?
COACH MCCAFFERY: I think the critical thing in a situation like that, a lot of things that we thought we were going to be able to do we weren’t able to do in the first half. I give credit to our opponent. They were up in our space. They picked us up full court. They were literally sideways going east/west.
Didn’t get great looks at it. Down 44-19, and it just didn’t look good. I challenged Tyler Cook to be who he is. And I’m really proud of him. Not in a negative way. That’s not how I am. He’s a special young man with great character. I knew he was better than that. The same with Luka.
So you talk about a few things from a technical perspective. You stay positive. You challenge a few guys to be better than they were. And you’re trying at that point to build confidence, because we didn’t play like a confident group in the first half. I think that was obvious. So what do we have to do as coaches to get them to play to their capabilities? That’s all you can ask from them. You can’t ask more than that.
It starts with effort. And I think it really started with we got some stops early. We got some run-outs. We got a few buckets. Cook got going. Then Garza got going. Then Moss got going. Then Bohannon got going. And we just fed off of that energy. And the impressive thing for me, and what I’m most proud of as a coach, is how we stayed connected and we stayed together, because anything short of that and you’re not going to be able to come back like we did.
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Q. Obviously you’re disappointed; you wanted to win this game. But to come back from 25 against a team of that caliber, does it make it more palatable to know that you exited the way that, hey, we left it all out there, was everything we could do?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Absolutely. It’s the only thing that we can ever really ask of our guys. We put a game plan together. We know it’s not going to be perfection. It never is.
But what you hope to get is a perfect effort. And that’s what we got. And I think anytime that happens, you just want to hug your guys and tell them how much you love them because you appreciate how hard it was to do what they did.
Q. Quick thumbnail sketch, if you had to describe what makes Tennessee maybe the best team in the country, what would you say?
COACH MCCAFFERY: They’ve got a lot of weapons. They play both ends. They play defense. They share the ball. They have go-to guys. They shoot it well enough so you can’t really just say, okay, we’re just going to back it up. They shoot the ball well. They have low-post options. And they have tremendous speed and quickness.
I think it’s a confident, veteran group, which I think always helps especially this time of year, but it helps you throughout the course of the year. It’s the reason why they have the record they have. So they’re going to be a tough out.
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