Iowa coach Fran McCaffery traveled to Dayton with his team Monday and put them through a workout Tuesday before catching a plane back to Iowa City in the evening.
He will be there this morning when his 13-year-old son, Patrick, undergoes surgery for the removal of a tumor from his thyroid. Then he’ll fly back to Dayton for tonight’s game.
“The other coaches will handle the morning meeting and the shootaround,’’ McCaffery said. “Hopefully, I'll be back before the last meeting we have, which is typically right before pregame meal or right after pregame meal, and be ready to coach the game, assuming all goes well.’’
Iowa senior Devyn Marble said Patrick hangs around at practice a great deal and is “like our little brother.’’ He said he and his players were just trying to make the situation as easy as possible for the coach.
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said he has said a few prayers for McCaffery and his family, too.
“I think it’s a tough thing to deal with in a situation like today,’’ Martin said. “You plan the NCAA Tournament game, your players need you, but your family needs you more. Tough thing to deal with.’’
MIXED KARMA: Dayton Arena carries a few memories for Iowa’s fans and coaches, some good, some bad.
It was in this arena that star guard Ronnie Lester first injured his knee early in the 1979-80 season. He later reinjured the knee against Louisville in the Final Four, derailing any chance the Hawkeyes had of winning the national championship.
But this also is the arena in which McCaffery steered Siena to a double-overtime upset victory over Ohio State in the 2009 NCAA tournament.
“We're in the locker room next to the locker room that we celebrated in,’’ McCaffery said Tuesday at a news conference. “I remember walking off the floor like it was yesterday. And Coach (Andrew) Francis and I were just talking about it five minutes ago. Great feeling, incredible sense of accomplishment, and hope to enjoy a similar experience.’’
WEEKEND WARRIORS: Hard to believe but Iowa has not won a game on a weekday since it defeated Northwestern on Thursday, Jan. 9, in the third game of the Big Ten season. The Hawkeyes went 7-2 on weekends in conference play, 2-7 on weeknights.
NO COMMENT: Bruce Pearl, who has deep connections to both the Iowa and Tennessee programs, was hired Tuesday as the new head coach at Auburn.
Pearl spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Iowa and six years as the head guy at Tennessee. He recruited some of the players on the Volunteers’ current roster. But none of them had anything to say about him being hired by another SEC school.
“We ain’t got no comments on the Auburn situation,’’ junior forward Jeronne Maymon said Tuesday. “We’re here to talk about Tennessee.’’
ALL-TIME LOW: Their No. 11 seed matches the lowest seed ever for Iowa in the NCAA tournament. The Hawkeyes also were an 11 in 1986 when they lost to N.C. State in Minneapolis in the final game of the George Raveling era. Ironically, N.C. State also is here in Dayton, playing in the First Four.
SPARSE EXPERIENCE: Iowa does not have any players who ever have been in an NCAA tournament and Tennessee has only two. The Volunteers made the tournament in 2011 in their final season under Pearl and Maymon played one minute in a first-round NCAA loss to Michigan. Point guard Antonio Barton played in the tournament with Memphis before transferring to Tennessee.