Some of it was them and some of it was a disconnect from the University of Iowa basketball program.
Either way, look for former Iowa Hawkeyes basketball players to have a presence in and around Carver-Hawkeye Arena and, perhaps, on coach Fran McCaffery’s coaching staff.
During his introductory news conference Monday, McCaffery said he wants input from former Hawkeyes, several of whom were prominent standing along a wall to McCaffery’s right.
“Well, it’s something that would be one of the first orders of business for me,” McCaffery said. “I want them involved. I will reach out to them.
“I want them coming back. I want them at games. I want them calling me on the phone, ‘Hey, I heard about a player you might be interested in.’ It’s that kind of relationship to me that makes a program special, and that’s what we’re going to build here.”
For whatever reasons, that relationship faded under former Iowa coaches Steve Alford and Todd Lickliter.
Kenyon Murray, who played for Iowa from 1996-96, said life has a way of getting in the way.
“I think part of it was our fault, too,” Murray said. “Once you get out of here, you start families and start doing different things. There are enough of us here where we can provide some resources not only to the coaching staff but also the university and the players.”
Jess Settles, who scored 1,611 points at Iowa from 1993-99, said former players haven’t been embraced over the last 10 years.
“I think a lot of the former players over the last 10 years have had very difficult experiences here,” Settles said. “With the people we have here and the community that we have, it shouldn’t be that way.”
Settles was recruited by McCaffery. He texted some former Notre Dame players and asked them what it was like to play for McCaffery. He believes, bottomline, it will be more fun for players, current and former.
“I think the guys will have more fun than they’ve had in the past,” Settles said. “With everything that’s on the line, it’s still really about the kids. You want kids who come to Iowa to have a good time, and win and compete.”
Former Hawkeye Ryan Bowen, who retired this season after 10 years in the NBA, said former players who live in Iowa and who are around the program should have an influence.
“It’s important for us to help in anyway we can,” he said. “It’s about the current players, the student-athletes, and having them enjoy their time at the University of Iowa.
“It wasn’t lip service (from McCaffery), it was sincere. I look forward to it. We spend a lot of time in Iowa and a lot of us live here and are still huge fans. To know that we can be a part of it really means a lot. I’m excited.”
Former players, especially those in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area, can be a resource, Murray believes.
“All the great programs have the former guys involved,” Murray said. “We want to let the program and the university know that we are a strong group and that we want to be involved. We can provide a lot of different resources, whether it’s identifying a kid who might want to come here or maybe one of us wants to be a GA (graduate assistant) or someone is looking for a coaching job.
“I think we’ve got a great network of people from all areas of life. We just want to make sure that we’re a resource to the university and the basketball program.”
On the subject of a coaching staff, McCaffery said that will be something he looks at in the next couple days. He added that he’s open to having a former Hawkeye aboard.
“I have some coaches on my staff presently that I would give strong consideration to that I know,” McCaffery said. “They know how to work, they know how to recruit. They’re talented. I’ve given strong consideration to having an Iowa presence on my staff, maybe a former player, for example.”
Murray said he’d listen if he got a call.
“I’m happy with what I’m doing, but if the call came, I would listen to it, obviously,” Murray said. “It has to be the right fit, it has to be what they need here. If my role is to continue to be a proponent for the program in the community, like I am and being on the committees I am, then I’ll stay and help it out as much as I can.”
Bobby Hansen, former Hawkeye and current Iowa radio analyst, and Settles could also be candidates to fill out a coaching staff.