This just doesn't seem right folks. It is the middle of April, the Spring Game is just over a week away, and I am absolutely thrilled about next season.... Next basketball season. You heard me. I cannot wait until next November when I get my first taste of the new and improved Hawkeye basketball program.
I know, I know. It's a little early to be all in on the Franimal House, but I am really drinking up this Kool-Aid. We've already talked up the record and success he had at Siena, but things are starting to get in motion in Iowa City and the more I hear about this guy, the more excited I get.
Couple that with the fact that we are finally getting some support for the program from the marketing department and the athletic department's wallet and I can't help myself. We have a $20 million addition to Carver that will finally give our basketball program a practice facility, along with a nice little recruiting tool. The Sports Marketing Department is hard at work trying to sell Hawk fans on being "Mad Again" - that is, being excited about getting back into March Madness - and I have to be honest, I am. Heck, there's even talk about changing the floor markings in Carver and throwing new uniforms on the players. In any event, I think the University is taking the right steps to give the program a face-lift and McCaffery is working to do the same.
The first step in rebuilding this program was to start building the support staff around Fran the Man. Yesterday, Iowa did just that. While the Hawkeyes didn't land Fran's ex-right-hand man, Mitch Buonoguro - who was named the new head coach at Siena, they did bring over one of his top recruiters. Andrew Francis (hmmm, I'm spotting a trend here with the "Fran" thing) is a Brooklyn, NY native who is said to be great at finding top talent and helping to develop players both in practice and in-game.
I'm excited about this guy and what he brings to the table. Hawk fans surely have some nightmarish memories of the success Iowa State had with it's New York recruits and I can only pray we get similar results with Francis' NYC ties.
Speaking of ties, did I mention that Siena had some pretty solid recruits who may still be cutting ties with the program? How about Melsahn Basabe, the 6'7" 225 lb PF who was slated to be in Albany for the next four years..... Until Fran left. Specifically, Basabe had a clause in his LOI allowing him to be released should there be a coaching change. Guess who is officially on his radar.
Thank you Andrew Francis. While Fran has been in Iowa City schmoozing the locals, Francis was left in his previous role at Siena for nearly a week. That meant he could still keep in touch with Siena recruits, and keep in touch he did. When asked about his contact with the Siena staff after McCaffery's departure, Basabe said, "I've spoken to Assistant Coach Andrew Francis." When prodded about his future, he replied,"I have the option to go to Iowa and that is something I am seriously considering."
Yes sir, we would love to have you over to our house to play. Carver could certainly use an athletic, scoring big man again. I can already hear you Negative Nellys out there chirping about us needing a point guard. To you I say this: wait and see. Wait and see what pans out with our current recruits and wait and see what happens to our current scholarship players.
There are already rumors about Fuller and Brommer transferring (if one's going, I sure hope it's not Fuller) and as of this posting, Cody Larson has been released from his LOI to play for the Hawkeyes. So let's wait and see what it is we really need and just how many scholarships we have to offer.
To me, Brommer could be an odd man out. If we can snag Basabe and manage to convince Larson that Iowa is still the place for him, we would be fresh out of scholarships and would still have only Payne as a true point man. I think of all the guys left on the roster with a scholarship, Brommer is the most expendable and if there is a quality PG available, Fran has every right to ask Andrew to pick a new place to play or to start paying for his own schooling.
Speaking of available point guards, anybody for a little Bryon Allen? As in, Oak Hill Academy's 6'3" 215 PG who verbally committed to George Mason yesterday. He had narrowed his list to GM, Siena, and a few other mid-majors. Now that Fran and Francis are at Iowa, I think we have a legit shot at talking this kid into joining the Hawkeyes. The commitment to GM is a soft verbal and he is still open to recruitment so let's get him on campus. You can't tell me it's more appealing to play at George Mason than to start right away at a Big Ten school on the rise.
But as I said, I am drinking up the Kool-Aid by the gallon and it's obvious that some others, perhaps, are not (Cody Larson?). Either way, I think it is an exciting time to be a Hawkeye fan. Spring football is underway and basketball fans actually have some positive things to talk about for the first time in a while. We have a nice new facility being built, a new push by marketing to change the face of the program and an exciting new coach who has vowed to make us "Mad Again." There is a lot going on right now for Hawk fans and if you ask me, I think it's all just Frantastic!