Fran McCaffery is notorious for having one of the most vicious tempers in all of college basketball, and he exploded on Sunday night. He is perhaps best known for this chair throwing incident.
With No. 22 Iowa leading No. 4 Wisconsin 41-39 in the Kohl Center, McCaffery went off again. He was upset about a no-call at one end and a foul that was called against Iowa at the other end, and he exploded. He had a couple of magic words to say, I mean scream in a spittle-laden tantrum at the officials. That earned him the first technical.
When he got lit up, he really lost it, bumping a second official. That got him ejected.
He’ll be hearing from the league after that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a suspension was handed down.
There’s worse news, however.
Simply put, McCaffery’s ejection was the turning point. The Badgers hit the four technical free throws and then hit a fifth free throw on the ensuing possession which sparked a 10-2 run that put Wisconsin in control. The Hawkeyes had a run in them, eventually getting the deficit back to just a point, but they were never able to come all the way back. They lost 75-71.
But the bottom line is that Iowa really could have used this win. They cost themselves a win at Iowa State with poor free throw shooting. They gave away a win over Villanova in the final of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Now, it’s important to note that the Hawkeyes could have easily lost this game if McCaffery had kept his composure. Wisconsin was down 35-24 at the half and had already exerted taken control of the game, and I’m sure the frustration at giving up another double-digit lead in one of the toughest road environments played a part in McCaffery’s eruption.
For the most part, McCaffery is a good coach whose overreactions are worth a chuckle. The same can be said about his wife, who has been tossed out of games before. But when your actions, your inability to control your temper, starts costing you wins — wins at Wisconsin, nonetheless — it’s time for a change, no?
The Hawkeyes have enough depth and talent to be considered the best team in the Big Ten not named Michigan State, Ohio State or Wisconsin. I think their performance against the Badgers, despite McCaffery’s antics, reinforces that point.
But Iowa is still in a position where they have three losses and their best win is against Notre Dame. Eventually, if they are going to be taken seriously, they’ll have to close out a win against elite competition.
Doing so without having to overcome game-changing spurts created by their head coach would be a good thing.