Head coach Fran McCaffery rejoining Iowa men’s basketball team against Maryland

The 12th-year Hawkeye head coach missed Iowa’s win over Minnesota on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery watches action on court during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Maryland at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Officials called 35 fouls in the matchup. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 80-75.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Patrick McCaffery just couldn’t resist.

The redshirt sophomore forward’s fiery father, head coach Fran McCaffery, missed the Iowa men’s basketball team’s 71-59 win over Minnesota on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19 and entering health and safety protocols. What was it like for Patrick McCaffery, who dropped 18 points in Iowa’s victory, to play in a college game without his father on the bench for the first time?

“It was a lot quieter,” Patrick McCaffery said before finally letting out bursts of laughter.

“I know he’s been calling pretty much every player individually throughout the week. He’s just bored or something. He’s watching film with [assistant coach Sherman Dillard] over Zoom. It’s a miracle those two were able to get that to happen.”

Sixth-year guard Jordan Bohannon, sitting next to Patrick McCaffery at a table and behind a pair of microphones, chuckled with his teammate minutes before their Tuesday practice. Not long after that practice ended, Iowa’s volume — so to speak — was turned back up. After testing positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 4, Fran McCaffery rejoined the Hawkeyes on Wednesday and will take the reins back from acting head coach Billy Taylor for Iowa’s (15-7 overall, 5-6 Big Ten) 6 p.m. game in Maryland (11-12, 3-9) on Thursday, which will air on ESPN2.

Perhaps the biggest question for the 12th-year Hawkeye head coach to answer in his return to the floor is how he will handle the backcourt rotation.

Bohannon, who has mostly played off the ball this season, found out from his head coach late last week that he would be starting at point guard against Minnesota. In corresponding moves, junior point guard Joe Toussaint (who has started 21 games this season) was removed from the starting five, and sophomore guards Tony Perkins (who made his first start) and Ahron Ulis (who played 21 minutes off the bench) saw a bump in their playing time.

Taylor, speaking in Fran McCaffery’s place at a Tuesday press conference, did not confirm whether or not the backcourt would follow a similar rotation in College Park.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball team dominates second half, beats Minnesota in Fran McCaffery’s absence

“We have the mentality, all hands on deck,” Taylor said. “Everybody be ready to go. So, when your name is called, step up and perform. And if guys continue to have a good attitude whatever their role is for that particular game, that will go a long way for us.”

Iowa’s lineup changes against Minnesota came after back-to-back Big Ten losses.

Taylor said the coaching staff thought the new rotation would help the Hawkeyes offensively, particularly with how Bohannon could distribute the ball to Patrick McCaffery and Keegan Murray (Iowa’s top two scorers) in the post.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit with some of our offensive efficiency,” Taylor said. “So, getting Jordan back at the point pushing the basketball, maybe that will create some more space for Keegan to get opportunities in and around the paint … It gave more room for the other guys for Patrick or Keegan to take advantage of that space.”

The move also ended up providing Bohannon, the program’s all-time leader in games played, assists, and 3-pointers, to get back into his comfort zone.

The former Linn-Mar High School standout from Marion, Iowa, is shooting 27.1 percent from deep since the new year while primarily playing shooting guard for the Hawkeyes. Returning to point guard, where he played the past five seasons, more regularly allowed Bohannon to have the ball in his hands in transition.

“For some reason, I’ve just had a hard time getting into a rhythm the past couple games,” Bohannon said. “Point guard is really the place I’ve been at for the last five or six years here at Iowa. I was able to move back there and kind of get some transition 3s going, get some confidence back and play a little bit more like myself.”

Bohannon played all 36 minutes against the Gophers, including all 20 in the second half despite not scoring. Perkins played 18, while Ulis checked in for 21. Toussaint played just under six minutes — none of which came in the second half.

Toussaint scored nine points and dished out nine assists in Iowa’s win over Maryland on Jan. 3.

Taylor and Bohannon have both emphasized that the speedy guard from the Bronx hasn’t been too discouraged with his reduction in minutes and is staying ready for when his name is called again.

“To have Joe that can still be a positive contributor for us, because he’s going to have moments where he’s going to play extremely well for us,” Taylor said. “Just like Ahron Ulis stepped up, we’ll need different guys to step up. It’s a unique roster, unique team that we have a lot of different guys that can play and can impact the game for us.

“I’m trying to keep him positive,” Bohannon added. “He’s a very hardworking guy — a guy who loves playing for Iowa and wants to continue to help the team win.”