Iowa’s Fran McCaffery was the nation’s youngest head coach when he took over at Lehigh. Then only three seasons and one NCAA tournament appearance into his head coaching career, McCaffery took a detour to South Bend as an assistant.
To some that make look like a lateral move, but McCaffery called it “a no-brainer.”
“I was young, I was 28 years old and I had interviewed for both the SMU job and the UMass job that year,” McCaffery said. “Both search committees, both institutions were somewhat impressed with me but were very reluctant to pulling the trigger with regard to my experience. Both on a national level in terms of recruiting and coaching.
“So from that standpoint, it was an easy decision. Plus to have the opportunity to coach at Notre Dame was something that I thought obviously dramatically going to impact my career. It was something I wanted to do. It was an experience I wanted to try. The third game I coached there was 37,000 people at the Indiana Hoosier Dome at the time.”
McCaffery spent 11 years as an assistant at Notre Dame. He prepared scouting reports for opponents like Indiana, Duke and Kentucky and learned how to become a major college head coach working for Digger Phelps and then John MacLeod.
“There was no better way to prepare me to do what I’m ultimately doing now than to be in those types of games where you have to game prep for teams of that caliber and actually go through the game itself,” he said. “To sit in the room and watch tape with Digger Phelps and learn how he breaks a game down and how he prepares his team and how he puts a game together. Then I was lucky enough to spend a substantial amount of time with John MacLeod. He coached a lot differently than Coach Phelps did. I would say that my ability to be successful at Greensboro and at Siena and ultimately at Iowa is a result of the experiences that I learned when I was at Notre Dame.”
The game is a blackout for the fans and players. Iowa will wear black for the home game instead of its traditional white or gold. Notre Dame will wear white.
This is the fourth straight game Iowa has wore black in a game. The Hawkeyes wore black in each of their games at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.
Game officials: Bo Boroski, Steve McJunkins, Mike Kitts
This is the first Big Ten-ACC Challenge game for Notre Dame, which joined the league in a basketball capacity this season. Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey said he and his players feel some responsibility to uphold his new conference’s honor.
“You do feel some responsibility,” Brey said. “You’re excited about representing the ACC officially (tonight). It heightens your sense of awareness and sense of urgency that not only are plyaing for Notre Dame on the jersey, but you’re playing for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Certainly you want to represent for the league in your first foray into representing the league.”
Iowa has struggled in the challenge, losing its last seven games and going 2-10 overall. Here’s the schedule how the series has played out:
Big Ten-ACC Challenge games:
Illinois at Georgia Tech, 6:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
Indiana at Syracuse, 6:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Penn State at Pittsburgh, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Michigan at Duke, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Notre Dame at Iowa, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
Florida State at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Wisconsin at Virginia, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Maryland at Ohio State, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Northwestern at North Carolina State, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Boston College at Purdue, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
North Carolina at Michigan State, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Miami at Nebraska, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Here are the team records in the 143-game series:
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