Fran McCaffery and Keith Adkins first got to know one another in 1988 when McCaffery joined the coaching staff at Notre Dame and Adkins arrived as a sharpshooting freshman guard from Paintsville, Kentucky.
Their careers have taken divergent paths since then although each of them spent a few years at UNC-Greensboro, Adkins as an assistant coach from 1995-97 and McCaffery as head coach from 1999-2005.
But they’ve stayed in touch and always thought perhaps someday their teams might meet on the basketball court.
It finally happens tonight when Adkins’ Lindsey Wilson College team visits McCaffery and the Iowa Hawkeyes in a 7 p.m. preseason exhibition game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The game will afford Iowa fans their first look at such newcomers as CJ Fredrick, Patrick McCaffery and Joe Toussaint as well as a glimpse of where senior guard Jordan Bohannon is in his rehabilitation from off-season hip surgery.
For Lindsey Wilson, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The NAIA program from Columbia, Kentucky, never has stepped on the court against an NCAA Division I opponent.
"The opportunity to play an exhibition game against a team at the highest level of college basketball isn't something that happens all of the time," Adkins admitted. “For a lot of reasons, these types of games are very valuable to NAIA and NCAA Division II programs. We will definitely benefit from the opportunity to play against a team at this level and in that type of environment.’’
Adkins said he has been working for “a few years’’ to set up a game against a McCaffery-coached team.
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“I have stayed in touch with him over the years and I can't say enough about the impact he has had on my coaching career,’’ Adkins said. “I am very appreciative to him and the University of Iowa for this incredible opportunity."
McCaffery said it’s been more like 15 years, dating all the way back to when he was the coach at Siena.
“I’ve known him for years. Really good coach, does a great job, has been the head coach at three different places, and been very successful …’’ McCaffery said of Adkins. “I felt like he had a good team this year and I thought it would be a good time to do it.’’
Lindsey Wilson, which has only been a four-year school since 1987, went 16-15 last season in its first year under Adkins, who previously coached at Life University and Campbellsville.
The Blue Raiders already have played three regular-season home games and have rolled up a bunch of points, defeating Ohio State-Mansfield 116-35, Florida National 104-72 and Martin Methodist 77-59.
If nothing else, they should provide a bit of a test for an Iowa defense that McCaffery feels will be improved over the past few years.
“I think defensively we’ve been good in a lot of different areas,’’ McCaffery said of the way his team has defended in preseason workouts and a closed scrimmage against Illinois State. “I think our transition defense has been better. Our zone defense has been really good. Our press has been solid and has gotten better over the past week, week-and-a-half or so. Our man-to-man has been good.
“I think the thing that I like is we have a number of different players that we can play so you keep fresh players on the floor, which raises the intensity level on a consistent basis.’’