Connor McCaffery will be out of action with the Iowa basketball team for at least two weeks.
And don’t be surprised if the 6-foot-5 freshman guard ends up taking the rest of the season off and filing for a medical redshirt season in order to retain four years of eligibility.
McCaffery, the son of head coach Fran McCaffery, underwent a tonsillectomy Wednesday that hopefully will take care of the ongoing issues he has had with mononucleosis and strep throat. At the very least, he will be sidelined until mid-January.
“His body has not responded to recovery from mono and strep," Coach McCaffery said Thursday as he prepared his team for its final non-conference game tonight, against Northern Illinois.
“He had a very serious strain of strep and the doctors felt it required that his tonsils come out and that was part of the reason he wasn’t recovering as quickly as we hoped. He can’t get his body back to where it needs to be. There’s no explosiveness at all, no conditioning."
Under NCAA rules, Connor is eligible to take a medical redshirt if he has played in less than 30 percent of the team’s games and does not play in the second half of the season. He has played only 53 minutes in four games so he should qualify although his case would need to be certified by medical personnel and approved by the NCAA.
Coach McCaffery indicated Thursday that “it looks more and more like that will be a possibility.
“When you watch him, you can really see it,’’ he added. “He’s really trying to get back. You can see it in practice, you can see it in the games. He’ll be really, really sucking wind and it’s just hard to play that way …
“My concern right now is his physical well-being. I don’t want to put him out there and put him at risk of any further injury because his body has been so compromised. I think that’s the key and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s my son.’’
Connor originally planned to redshirt for basketball this season and play baseball for Iowa in the spring. Coach McCaffery said he doubts Connor could play baseball now if he doesn’t finish the basketball season.
“I don’t know that you can redshirt medically in one sport and then play the other,’’ he said. “I don’t know how that works, to be honest with you.’’
Connor’s situation leaves the Hawkeyes with only four scholarship players who typically play guard: Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, Brady Ellingson and Maishe Dailey. McCaffery said he thought Bohannon was fully capable of playing 30-plus minutes per game and he said junior Nicholas Baer and senior Dom Uhl also could be used in the backcourt, if needed.
“Those guys are veteran players,’’ he said. “They know the plays. They can guard 2s and in some cases, 1s. We’ll be fine.’’
It helps that Dailey has emerged recently as one of the team’s most reliable reserves. The sophomore scored a career-high 16 points while playing a career-high 27 minutes last week in a victory over Colorado.
“Maishe has earned more minutes anyway,’’ McCaffery said. “He has played extremely well and he has blossomed with the opportunity. He really played well, I thought, down in the Caymans and he has played well ever since.’’
The only other significant health issue facing the Hawkeyes (8-6) at the moment is a sprained ankle suffered by Ahmad Wagner in a Dec. 19 game against Southern Utah. McCaffery said Wagner practiced Wednesday but was very sore and is “questionable’’ for tonight’s game. Ellingson also sustained a sprained ankle in that game, but is back to normal.
McCaffery warned that his team cannot afford to look past Northern Illinois to the resumption of Big Ten play next week.
“I really like their team,’’ he said of the Huskies. “They’re quick. They’ve got multiple scoring options. They’ve got some depth. The kid (Eugene) German is terrific. He had 28 against Iowa State, 26 against Milwaukee, both on the road.
“Probably if you were to evaluate a lot of our non-conference opponents, they’re 7-5, they’re probably one of the better teams we will play.’’