Connor McCaffery’s three-point revival is a sight to behold
Connor McCaffery has been many things to the Iowa basketball team during his career: a secondary ball handler, small ball forward, skilled power post, switchable defenseman, and coach. in the field. Yet over the past month, the fifth-year senior has taken on a role few fans saw coming: the dead-eye shooter.
McCaffery’s dramatic improvement in his three-point shooting may be unprecedented in Hawkeye basketball history. A career 30% shooter from beyond the arc entering the season, McCaffery’s shooting percentage has been boosted over the years by the incredible spacing and number of open shots that have come his way in playing with a center of gravity in Luka Garza and a sniper array at every position. Fittingly, Connor’s numbers completely crashed at the start of the post-Garza era, which saw him shooting just 16% from deep in Iowa’s first nineteen games this season. His struggles were easily attributed to both the absence of Garza and fellow shooters Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick, as well as the numerous injuries McCaffery suffered during his career, including his out-of-town hip surgery. season. Despite being left open deep by almost every defense he faced, McCaffery seemed unable to make outside shots with any level of consistency.
Everything changed in Iowa’s game against Penn State. With the Hawkeyes shooting poorly from the field and leading scorer Keegan Murray at fault, McCaffery managed to fill the void and provide a spark off the bench, shooting 4-7 from three in just sixteen minutes before going out with an injury. Still, despite missing the next game against Minnesota and only playing four minutes against Maryland, McCaffery has managed to continue his hot shot since recovering from his injury at the stadium. ‘shoulder. Since the start of the Penn State game, McCaffery has completed 61.5% of his threes, a stunning improvement from his abysmal struggles earlier this year.
What can explain this spectacular turnaround? Connor attributed his improved skill beyond the arc to a renewed sense of confidence, and as cliché as that sounds, it honestly comes across on the tape. McCaffery spent much of the season missing open threes or hesitating so long before shooting that he was routinely out of rhythm the moment the ball left his hand. Yet whatever mental or physical impediments contributed to the downfall of his three-point shot, Connor not only overcame them, but he’s shooting the basketball better than he has at any point in time. his career.
McCaffery’s shooting streak suddenly made him one of the team’s most reliable three-point weapons. His three-point shooting percentage (39.2%) is higher than all but one of Iowa’s regular contributors, and no rotation player who averages 1+ attempts per game can match his impressive success rate against Big Ten opponents (42.9%). Connor won’t be confused with true gunners like Jordan Bohannon and Payton Sandfort who make a living chasing shots from beyond the arc, but he’s proven himself to be very competent at bringing down open threes when called upon. given the opportunity, which is all Iowa needs from him as a shooter. Teams that just a month ago could build their defensive game plans by leaving McCaffery open to focus on players like Bohannon and Keegan Murray must now consider Connor’s comings and goings on the perimeter, a factor who frees up his teammates to create easier shots.
Finally, McCaffery’s sudden three-point skill helps provide the Hawkeyes with greater lineup clarity. Lineups featuring Connor and Joe Toussaint, Tony Perkins, or Ahron Ulis are no longer dangerously devoid of outside fire. Iowa can transition to a more defensive formation without completely draining their offensive output, as Iowa’s defensive fist guards can treat Connor as a reliable driving and kicking partner when rated as small or powerful attacker. Connor is a true jack-of-all-trades for the Hawkeyes, capable of playing four positions and providing the team with exceptional passing and visibly hard-hitting defensive leadership. With his renewed shooting skills, it’s now much easier for Iowa to easily deploy him without worrying about a huge offensive drop. It’s no coincidence that of Iowa’s last four games, three of them have seen Connor play among the highest minute totals of his season so far. As the Hawkeyes hope to make the playoffs in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, the team will benefit greatly from Connor’s veteran presence on the court, which his newfound three-point prowess has made extremely possible.
Fran McCaffery recently commented that Connor’s three-point streak was a game-changer for the team, and he couldn’t be more correct in his assessment. The fifth-year senior’s late-career shooting revival was as surprising as it was impactful and is helping to reshape his legacy while making the Hawkeyes one of the hottest teams in college basketball. It remains to be seen if Connor McCaffery can produce a second straight month of truly exceptional filming, but Iowa will no doubt be better off if he does.