Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery shot down talk that the Under Armour basketballs used during his team's loss to Maryland on Thursday had anything to do with his team's performance in the game, quotes from a Friday teleconference that were transcribed by AllHawkeyes.com.
McCaffery's comments about adjusting to playing with an unfamiliar brand of equipment are in line with what his players said immediately after Thursday's game. Asked about the basketballs by the Des Moines Register, junior Peter Jok said that the brand Maryland uses felt "different" and that there "was complaining about the ball" but then flatly denied that it had any impact on the final score.
From McCaffery on Friday:
“We practiced with an Under Armour ball for three days before we went down there,” he said, via AllHawkeyes. “So there is absolutely no excuse for any shots that we missed. That was a function of Maryland’s defense.”
The original article from the Des Moines Register was far from accusatory. It presented Jok's comments along with his thoughts on any effect it had on the game, then did the same with comments from point guard Mike Gesell. This CSN story built on that with context.
If anything, the underlying story has nothing to do with Maryland-Iowa or its outcome.
It is the continuing conversation about variations in feel among different brands of basketballs. Without uniformity, there are instances where teams could theoretically have to adjust to two different brands of balls during two different stops on a regular-season road trip, then return home and use a different brand all together. It happens.
But that conversation has evolved to a point where McCaffery feels the need to push back harder than the team initially did on any sort of notion that the basketballs influenced the game -- even if that was not the basis of the question in the first place. So that is what the coach did, taking aim at the question itself.
“I don’t know why anybody would ask about the ball. That’s idiotic,” McCaffery said. “You can’t ask the players about the ball and then criticize their answer, which is what happened. Nobody made any excuses. It’s a different ball. But it’s the world we live in."
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register, who wrote the original story, responded via Twitter.
Would argue that idiotic question was quite relevant since players confirmed ball felt significantly different than what they're used to.
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) January 29, 2016
It is not the first time that Under Armour basketballs have been mentioned after a game. The context is much different than how the issue was communicated by Iowa Thursday night, but in 2013, North Carolina State's Scott Wood mentioned the balls after a loss to Maryland.
The inference taken from Jok affirming that there "was complaining about the ball" does not have to be that the Hawkeyes are crying that they were wronged. That is the notion that McCaffery is pushing back against today.
It can (and should) be about the lack of uniformity in this small but important aspect of the game. In Friday's comments, McCaffery even made reference to the fact that he does not think it will change because of how entrenched programs are when it comes to individual contracts.
Read more from AllHawkeyes.com here.