COLUMBUS, OHIO – Connor McCaffery could possibly play a basketball-baseball doubleheader this weekend. Perhaps even on the same day.
He hopes that’s not the case though.
McCaffery, the son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, is a redshirt freshman guard for the 10th seed Hawkeyes who play No. 7 seed Cincinnati in the first game here Friday in the first round.
McCaffery is also an outfielder on Iowa’s baseball team, which just happens to be playing a series at Indiana starting Friday evening.
If the Hawkeyes lose to Cincinnati, McCaffery said he plans to go immediately to Indiana for the baseball series. It wasn’t clear if he meant he would try to play Friday evening or wait until Saturday’s game. It’s about a 3½-hour drive from Columbus to Bloomington, Ind. McCaffery said his mother would drive him there.
Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller added McCaffery to the travel roster for this weekend.
“He texted me and said, ‘Hopefully you can’t make it but if you can, I’ll put you on the roster,’” McCaffery said. “Obviously we’re planning on winning.”
McCaffery already has some practice at juggling both sports. Iowa lost to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament last Friday. McCaffery drove separately from the team back to Iowa City on Saturday morning so that he could play in a baseball game.
He was a pinch hitter the first two games but made his first start on Sunday. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles. He played again Tuesday and went 1-for-3 with a walk.
“I could have waited until the season was over but at the same time, I wasn’t missing anything with basketball,’ McCaffery said. “So there’s no reason for me not to go play baseball. I wanted to show my teammates that I really wanted to be there.”
McCaffery played in 32 basketball games this season, averaging 4.6 points. He also devotes time to baseball work in the batting cage around basketball practices.
He plays the fall baseball season, which causes him to miss about the first 10 days of basketball practice. He goes directly to basketball after the fall season. Once basketball ends, he’s full-time baseball.
“It’s tough but I have a lot of people that help me out,” he said. “Coach Heller and my dad work together really well. They talk and figure out what’s best for me. I’m used to it at this point.”
Playing one college sport can be a physical and mental grind. McCaffery estimates he gets only two weeks each year when he has no commitments with either sport.
“My body is beat up a little bit,” he said. “I’m sore but I’m not hurt. I’ve got to play through that. I feel it’s more of a mental thing [saying], ‘I can do this. I’m good. I can play.’”
McCaffery said his goal is to play professional baseball.