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Iowa coach McCaffery says he regrets decision not to shake hands

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- UND basketball has deep ties to the state of Iowa. UND coach Brian Jones played at Northern Iowa; assistant Jeff Horner led the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten championship in 2006; and the program is targeting the state more and more ...

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North Dakota Fighting Hawks head coach Brian Jones (right) and Iowa Hawkeyes assistant coach Kirk Speraw (left) talk after the game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa won 84-73. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- UND basketball has deep ties to the state of Iowa. UND coach Brian Jones played at Northern Iowa; assistant Jeff Horner led the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten championship in 2006; and the program is targeting the state more and more in its recruiting.

Whether UND gets another chance to play Iowa, however, may be up in the air after what happened after Tuesday night’s game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where the Hawkeyes beat the Fighting Hawks 84-73.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery refused to shake hands with UND coaches and players, apparently upset with inappropriate play by the Hawks during the closing seconds. He also ordered his players off the court without shaking hands, leaving a few Iowa assistants to talk to UND coaches and players.

It was a sour end to a homecoming game of sorts for UND.

Wednesday morning, however, McCaffery said he regretted his decision.
He told ESPN: "I feel bad about it. I have a lot of respect for Brian Jones. I wish it didn't happen. I wish I shook hands.

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"It was a hard-fought game, and I was being protective of my players. Peter Jok (Iowa’s leading scorer) has been getting beat up, and it was just a few plays in the last minute that I was frustrated about. But again, I think Brian Jones is a high-character guy and a heck of a coach. Assistant Jeff Horner is one of the best players ever to play here. I shouldn't have done it. I feel terrible about what happened."

The postgame dust up also made ESPN SportsCenter late Tuesday night.

The national focus was on the final 3 seconds. UND’s Corey Baldwin turned the ball over with five seconds to go. Iowa's Nicholas Baer held the ball and appeared content to let the clock run out.

But Baldwin stripped the ball from his hands and flipped a pass to Drick Bernstine for a layup, one that didn’t count.

McCaffery turned and headed to the locker room, telling his players to skip the handshake line, leaving Jones, his assistants and players in an awkward situation.

McCaffery indicated he wasn’t happy with several late rough plays late in the game.

Jones, meanwhile, said the incident was a heat-of-the-moment thing.

"I worked here for eight years, that's why I was frustrated -- Coach Horner played here," Jones said in his postgame media remarks. “We want to come here and play well. We want our family and friends to be proud of what we're doing and be respected. I get the heat of it. It's just the heat of the moment. Coach (McCaffery) is a high-character guy. I'm not blaming that. There were some things down the stretch that both teams could have cleaned up. We have to learn from those situations."

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Jones said he’ll address the final three seconds with his team.

"The kid (Baldwin) is a competitive kid; we'll handle that," Jones said. "Our kids are trying to compete. They're not malicious kids. They're good kids. They're trying to compete until the final horn goes off."

UND players echoed the comments of their coach outside the Hawks’ locker room at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” said UND’s Quinton Hooker, who lead the Hawks with 18 points. “It was childish, not shaking our hands. It was a disrespect thing, especially to coach who coached here.”

UND hadn’t played Iowa in 48 years prior to Tuesday’s game.

There are no future games scheduled.

“But “I’d like to play them again,” said Jones.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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