Connor McCaffery Wants To Stick As Hawkeyes' 'Glue Guy'
Iowa guard Connor McCaffery has played 89 minutes in the last three games, and hasn’t committed a turnover.
And he’s doing it playing multiple positions.
As the Hawkeyes’ rotation continues to be jumbled because of injuries and illness, McCaffery, a 6-foot-5 third-year sophomore, has been steady. He has 38 assists against seven turnovers, a 5.4 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranks fourth among NCAA Division I players and leads the Big Ten.
McCaffery knows his role.
“Just try to be the ‘glue guy’ that plugs in and does whatever the team needs me to do,” he said on Thursday.
But McCaffery knows something else — he’s got plenty of critics, simply because his father, Fran, is Iowa’s coach.
“Absolutely. I know there’s a lot of hate that comes,” he said. “I really don’t pay attention to it. I just try to come out and play how I’ve been playing.”
McCaffery has deleted his social media accounts, but he still gets informed of the things people say.
It hasn’t bothered him, because he knows he is involved in something bigger.
McCaffery’s primary role since he got to Iowa has been backup point guard. But now, with the Hawkeyes playing a smaller lineup, he can do just about anything.
“We brought him into this league and he was obviously a lot thinner and really wasn't planning on (playing multiple positions),” Fran McCaffery said. “But as he got stronger and as the need presented itself, I knew I could move him there because he literally knows every position on the floor. Not only kind of where you're supposed to line up, but the nuances of what we're trying to accomplish, which is the key if you're running sets or out-of-bounds plays.
"It's one thing if I line up up here and I go there. What if the guy is over here? What if they play it this way? What do you do? Where do you go? If that do that, how can we get the ball to this guy or that guy? He's got that all figured out. Clearly makes an impact in the game when you have people out there that really understand it that way.”
If Fran McCaffery wants a lineup with point guard Joe Toussaint, Connor can play the ‘2’. If he wants a lineup of Toussaint and either Jordan Bohannon or Bakari Evelyn at the ‘2’, Connor can shift to the ‘3’.
“I’ve been the guy who’s just switching around,” Connor said. “So I have to know those spots to successfully run what we want to run.”
Connor is averaging 7.1 points and three rebounds this season. He’s averaging 8.3 points and five rebounds in the last three games.
In Tuesday’s 68-54 win at Syracuse, with Iowa having just eight scholarship players in uniform, Connor often found himself in the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, whirling to find open Hawkeyes anywhere.
“Connor, it's kind of a different component. Different dimension,” Fran McCaffery said. “He can still feed (center) Luka (Garza) from the wing. He can make plays from there. He can score.
“Recognizing we have other guys that he needs to get the ball to, whether it's Joe (Wieskamp), J-Bo (Bohannon), CJ (Fredrick), Luka. Still knows what his responsibility is. But physically he's in a good place, I think, to be able to do that for us.”
“I’ve always been good at knowing the plays, kind of picturing what we need to do,” Connor said. “I’ve learned them as the point guard. And as the point guard, you have to know what every spot does, because you have to tell them what to do, if they don’t know.
“I think, because I’ve been a student of the game, maybe it becomes easier. I just catch on quicker.”