Two longtime adversaries and friends will square off Friday when 10th-seed Davidson plays seventh-seeded Iowa in a second-round NCAA tournament game Friday at KeyArena.
Davidson coach Bob McKillop and Iowa’s Fran McCaffery were rivals for six seasons in the Southern Conference before McCaffery left UNC Greensboro in 2005.
“Pretty much, we had to go through (Davidson) and they had to go through us to win the Southern Conference championship,” said McCaffery, who made a stop at Siena before arriving at Iowa in 2010. “So we had some really intense games. They were sort of epic battles.”
McKillop said he first saw McCaffery when McKillop was coaching at Holy Trinity (N.Y.) High and McCaffery was a player at La Salle High in Philadelphia.
“He was a bright, smart, versatile leader as a point guard, and his teams reflect that personality now,” McKillop said. “That’s what I’ve seen at UNC Greensboro, Siena and now Iowa with Fran. He has great stuff, and he gets his players to run it. Anyone can have a magic playbook, but his players run it.”
McCaffery has taken each program he has coached (including Lehigh) to the NCAA tournament, one of 12 active coaches to have done that with four programs.
McCaffery attended Wake Forest during his first year of college and played on the Deacons’ freshman team in 1977-78. He transferred to Lehigh and eventually received a bachelor’s degreein economics from The Wharton School in Philadelphia.
▪ Davidson, which doesn’t have a starter taller than 6-foot-7, struggled in the Atlantic 10 tournament with La Salle and Virginia Commonwealth’s big lineups. Iowa has one of the tallest teams in the country and starts a frontline that includes 7-1 Adam Woodbury, 6-9 Aaron White, 6-9 Jarrod Uthoff, in addition to sixth man Gabe Olaseni, who is 6-10.
“It will be a big thing for us to … use our length to our advantage and contain them in that way,” White said. “They might be a little quicker than us, but I think our length will help us.”
▪ For a second consecutive game, McKillop is facing a player he coached in the 2013 World University Games. Iowa’s White played for the U.S. that year, as did Treveon Graham of Virginia Commonwealth, Davidson’s opponent in last week’s Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals.
White also was a teammate of Davidson guard Brian Sullivan in an Ohio high school all-star team that played a team from Kentucky. Sullivan is from Upper Arlington and White hails from Strongsville.
White is the only player in the country to average at least 16 points and seven rebounds while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line.