Original publish date: August 14, 2014
This coming basketball season could see the unveiling of Iowa's latest version of the twin towers.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he likely would use a lineup at times that includes 7-foot-1 junior center Adam Woodbury playing alongside 6-10 senior Gabe Olaseni. Woodbury and Olaseni mostly rotated at the center position in each of the past two seasons with Woodbury as the starter.
"Woodbury and Olaseni, I think they have to do that," said former Iowa basketball player Steve Waite. "It's not only interesting. But I think it's a necessity right now. Gabe is just too talented I think to keep him off the court."
The 6-10 Waite knows a thing or two about the effectiveness of having twin towers on the front line. He was part of one of the best in school history, along with 6-10 Steve Krafcisin.
Together, they helped Iowa reach the NCAA Final Four in 1980 when Waite was a junior.
"It helped back then, but I would say that the game has changed quite a bit," Waite said of having twin towers. "You don't see a lot of 6-10, 6-11 or 7-foot guys, period. If you do, you don't see them in the lane posting up, defensively maybe. But the game has changed, the 3-point line, the perimeter shooting, the skills of the players, it's not the traditional 'you have your point guard and off guard' and so on and so forth. You have five guys who can move pretty well and they can shoot pretty well.
"So the days of having those twin towers and having them really clog up the inside, that's different now. It's changed. But I think it's still effective, especially against certain teams. It can really be effective."
Olaseni, who is from London, England, made huge strides as a junior this past season. His playing time increased by an average of six minutes per game. He more than doubled his scoring average from his sophomore season. And he led the team and ranked second in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds, averaging 2.5 per contest despite not starting a game.
"He's still learning, and that's what's exciting," Waite said. "I think he's a fantastic talent and maybe one of the faster guys out there. He certainly jumps well and I know he's working on his shot. And if he gets that offensive game and some of those offensive moves down, he'll be tough to stop."
Olaseni helped Iowa make the NCAA Tournament last season, ending a drought that had dated back to 2006. He then raised a few eyebrows by being selected first overall in the Prime Time League draft in June, although Olaseni wasn't surprised by it.
"I think I'm one of the better players on this (Iowa) team," Olaseni said.
Waite feels the same way and is eager to watch Olaseni play on a regular basis this season. Waite just recently accepted a job with the University of Iowa's MBA Program. He has spent the past three decades living in the Des Moines area and working for Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
"I hope to get to all of the (games)," said Waite, who started for three seasons at Iowa while also making three appearances in the NCAA Tournament. "We had season tickets the last couple of years. And unfortunately, because of my work schedule when I was at Pioneer, I think I was only able to get over to five or six games. I hope that changes now. I'll be here, so I hope to be at every game."
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.