Fran McCaffery

Iowa’s Fran McCaffery ejected for bumping official, costs team win at Wisconsin (VIDEO)


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.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.