“(Women’s) assistant (basketball) coach Jan Jensen and I were on the way down here and they gave us cards to tell us what to talk about when we were up here to speak,” Davis said. “On the back of hers, it said talk about last season and your expectations for next year. On the back of mine, it said ‘Score some more points!’
“Last season didn’t go so well. Moving on to next season, then,” Davis joked.
For the most part on Friday, the mood around the tailgate event was once again one of optimism. For the first time in quite a while, however, it was because of the basketball program after Iowa finished its third season under McCaffery with the second-most wins in a single season.
The 25-13 season saw the Hawkeyes play their way into consideration for an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2006. Iowa only added to expectation levels in the postseason, advancing all the way to the NIT championship game in New York City at Madison Square Garden before falling to Baylor in the first NIT title game for a Hawkeye men’s basketball team.
“It wasn’t just that they beat teams in the NIT, they beat some really good teams and beat them decisively. They beat a team in Indiana State with quality wins over Miami and San Diego State. Then they went to Virginia where Duke had lost and dominated there and they did the same thing to a good Maryland team in New York,” Hawkeye football and men’s basketball play-by-play voice Gary Dolphin said Friday. Dolphin served as emcee of the event and has had a front row view to the growth of Iowa basketball under McCaffery.
“The difference in where the program is now to where it was a few years ago is night and day,” Dolphin said. “We knew when he got here that he could coach. He’s coached and won at schools like Lehigh, Greensboro and Siena. His style is the biggest selling point. Kids want to get out and run and his style suits the way they want to play.”