IOWA CITY — Iowa junior Melsahn Basabe’s relationship with coach Fran McCaffery stretches well beyond their days at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
When Basabe was attending prep school in Massachusetts, McCaffery recruited him to Siena, a small Catholic school in Albany, N.Y. Basabe and his mother, Aloha, trusted McCaffery and let him know in no uncertain terms that he was his coach, regardless of the location.
So when McCaffery took the Iowa job in 2010, Basabe was released from letter of intent at Siena and quickly signed with Iowa. Their relationship is highlighted this week in BTN’s “The Journey,” which airs immediately after Iowa’s game at Indiana (about 8:30 p.m. Saturday) and again at 7 p.m. Sunday night.
Basabe, a 6-foot-7 forward, is one of the Big Ten’s most open and amenable players to interviews. But he said having the cameras on him at times made him “uncomfortable” but “honored” to share his story.
“They’re so close to you in practice and stuff,” Basabe said. “You’re used to being in your own little bubble when you’re practicing. The world sees on game days. That’s kind of the time we have to ourselves.
“I can’t wait to watch it. They’ve got a lot of footage so I can’t wait to see what they do with it.”
Bill Friedman, coordinating producer in charge of BTN Original Productions, said he chose to profile Basabe because of his shared history with McCaffery.
“His career hasn’t been very linear,” Friedman said. “He has a great freshman year, then a down sophomore year, and now a promising junior year. He’s changed his physique a couple times in his time at Iowa. Plus, he is a fun guy to be around – and someone who has really put his stamp on the Iowa basketball culture and even the fan base.”
“We always feel that honesty and candidness make for compelling television and storytelling and we came away from our time with both Melsahn and coach McCaffery impressed with how forthcoming they were in assessing both the highs and lows of Melsahn’s Iowa career.”
Basabe also talked about his relationship with teammate Devyn Marble and the word “slime.” But most of his comments were about McCaffery.
“I just told them that coach Fran gave me the opportunity of my life and he has a lot of expectations on me, and I want that and he pushes me as a coach,” Basabe said. “I just appreciate the opportunities he’s been giving me and I told them how it is and I don’t want to be any other place but here.”
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