Fran McCaffery said the medical situation involving his son, Connor, has obviously been frustrating this season.
But the Iowa coach used another word to describe it Tuesday. He said it has been “bizarre.’’
Connor McCaffery has played in only four games with the Hawkeyes because of a sprained ankle, mononucleosis, strep throat and two surgeries pertaining to his tonsils. After undergoing a tonsillectomy on Dec. 27, he had to make a 3:30 a.m. trip to the hospital five days later for a second procedure on his throat.
“We’re still not at the point where he can get back on the court and do anything,’’ Fran McCaffery said Tuesday on a teleconference with reporters. “He’s lost a ton of weight again so he’s got to get his strength back before we can even get him back out on the court. That’s a ways away. There’s still a possibility that he could seek a medical redshirt.’’
The original plan called for Connor to redshirt in basketball and play for the Iowa baseball team this spring.
After playing well for the basketball team on a tour of Europe in August, he began to have second thoughts about that decision and when backup point guard Christian Williams decided to transfer, Connor chose to discard the redshirt and play basketball.
“He’s so excited to play his first college game, but he sprains his ankle and he’s out for two weeks and then gets the worst case of mono we’ve seen,’’ Fran McCaffery said. “Two surgeries later, he’s still 15 pounds underweight. But I’m really proud of him because here’s a guy who gets mono and he still makes the dean’s list …
“He’s tried to help the team the best he can. He’s a positive guy on the bench, he’s positive in the locker room. He’s talking to guys, he sees the game and I think ultimately he’ll be a big help to us. You just kind of have to look at this and say it’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, and hopefully he’ll never have to go through that again.’’
Whether he returns to the basketball team this season or not, it’s not certain whether Connor will play baseball this spring. Coach McCaffery said he’s not sure it’s within the rules to take a medical redshirt in one sport, then play another in the same school year.
Staying strong: In spite of an 0-5 start in the Big Ten, McCaffery said he thinks his team’s mental approach remains strong going into a Thursday night game with Illinois, which also is winless in the Big Ten.
He said he could see that in a 91-73 loss to Maryland on Sunday as his team battled through all sorts of adversity in the first half on the road.
“And there we are with 10 minutes to go with a lead despite everything that happened,’’ he said. “So I think we’re in good position.’’
Official review: There were several controversial officiating situations in the Maryland loss and McCaffery said he had a conversation with Big Ten associate commissioner Rick Boyages, especially about a play late in the first half in which the Terrapins’ Anthony Cowan threw an elbow into the back of the neck of Iowa’s Cordell Pemsl.
“I thought we had a healthy discussion,’’ McCaffery said. “He was disturbed by the play, as was I.’’
McCaffery said he didn’t even see the play happen, but Boyages told him Pemsl should have brought it to the attention of the officials at the time so they could look at a video replay.
Brady will be back: Junior Brady Ellingson did not play against Maryland, ending a string of 52 consecutive games in which he played, but McCaffery said that does not mean he is shortening his player rotation.
“I should have played Brady,’’ he said. “Of course, I wasn’t there in the second half (McCaffery was ejected before halftime) so I probably would have … Brady deserves to play and he’ll be back in there.’’