Basketball players

Fran McCaffery gives Iowa basketball players the green light to defend themselves on social media

“I would expect them to defend themselves,” McCaffery said of the players being insulted on social media. “I always want my guys to defend themselves.”

Fran McCaffery gives his Iowa basketball players the green light to defend off the court

Iowa’s Kris Murray, right front, takes a jump shot as Illinois’ Alfonso Plummer (11) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, the Sunday, March 6, 2022, in Champaign, Illinois. (AP Photo/Michael Allio)

IOWA CITY — Perhaps the neutral ground at this week’s Big Ten men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis will be welcome in Iowa and the other 13 teams involved.

Unfortunate situations seem to follow partisan crowds, perhaps more than ever. No fan base should claim higher moral ground. But the Hawkeyes had a reason to be angry after something happened Sunday night after their 74-72 loss to Illinois.

An Illini fan allegedly told Iowa player Kris Murray to “(expletive) kill himself” and “you (expletive) suck” after the game. Murray was already feeling rotten after narrowly missing a late-game 3-point shot that could have been a game-winner, and after making just 1 of 7 free throws.

Kenyon Murray, Kris’ father, shared his anger over this on Twitter and received a lot of support from the public.

“Here’s the problem,” McCaffery said. “It’s not going to go away. It happened to my son Jack. He is a freshman (basketball player for Iowa City West) in high school. He gets killed on the road.

At college games, McCaffery said, “As long as they keep putting people close to the field, they’ll be screaming. It’s not just the students. These are the flamers. They are generally worse than the students.

“There are two ways. Either you get out of it, you shut up, or you come back to it, if you want. Whatever works for you. We are not addressing this issue today or at any time in the future. People are going to buy a ticket, and they’re going to come and they’re going to yell at the players. »

Are things worse today in arenas and gymnasiums? Who’s to say? This is, however, a digital world in which people can post truly awful things about anyone without much consequence. At least the thugs in the arenas sometimes get exposed.

“I’ll tell you this,” McCaffery said. “It’s a thousand times worse on social media with what these kids hear and what they’re told and how viciously they’re attacked. So I feel bad for Kris, but I can tell you this, he doesn’t Don’t worry. He’s a tough kid out there.

McCaffery gives his players true freedom of movement on Twitter, Instagram, and more. Some Hawkeyes use the sites as a mouthpiece. Some use them as a way to promote themselves or just to laugh a little. Others don’t care at all.

The option, however, is theirs. College students should open up to the world in which they will have to navigate, without being prohibited from participating.

“You prepare your guys for life and you want them to defend themselves,” McCaffery said. “You want them to take advantage of the platform. Sometimes, yes, there can be a Twitter beef. Often, they use their platform in incredibly positive ways. If you muzzle them, you get no good.

“I would say most of what our guys tweet and post is positive. They will fight back, and I expect them to fight back. Sometimes a line is crossed.

“Sometimes coaches never want to get to that point, so they don’t deal with it at first. So don’t tweet anything, therefore, we may never get to the point where you cross a line. You know what? That’s life. Sometimes you cross a line and deal with it. You may need to apologize. You might have to get scolded or whatever.

“But I would always want my guys to stand up for themselves, and you know me well enough, I will always stand up for them and support them.”

“It’s an interesting journey they’re going through at this level, and I still hope it’s been the best four years of their lives. I want it to be an incredibly positive experience, but that’s not what is life. There’s defeat. There’s adversity. And things happen that aren’t pleasant. So we deal with it, but by all means, you want to fight back, go ahead. I will never tell them not to.

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