IOWA CITY, Ia. – For the first time in his 102-game Iowa basketball career, junior Adam Woodbury wasn't in the starting lineup.
It was for a good cause.
Senior Gabe Olaseni got his first career start in his final home game as a Hawkeye on Saturday. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery made that decision two days before the 69-52 win against Northwestern before a sellout crowd.
"When I told the guys in practice that I was going to do this, the first thing Gabe did was go give Woody a hug," McCaffery said. "That's the relationship that they have."
Woodbury will be back in the starting lineup for this week's Big Ten Tournament. But on Senior Day, McCaffery gave Olaseni the honor of starting with two siblings and his mother, Yvette, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time — having arrived Thursday from their native London.
"It was a nice touch for Coach McCaffery to do that," said Olaseni, who struggled with foul trouble and finished with three points in 15 minutes. "He didn't have to do that, obviously. I wouldn't have really cared if he did. It was a nice touch to hear your named being called. It was interesting, but it's back to where I'm good at — coming off the bench at the Big Ten Tournament."
In the reserve role, Woodbury actually had one of his best games of the season — 13 points and five rebounds (all offensive) in 24 minutes. Woodbury was instrumental in Iowa owning a 14-1 edge over Northwestern on the offensive glass.
It was against this Northwestern team that Woodbury struggled to an 0-for-5 shooting night (and 3-for-8 from the free-throw line) in a 66-61 overtime loss on Feb. 15.
Woodbury was happy for Olaseni, who he said took him under his wing when he arrived on campus.
"It was a little different coming off the bench," Woodbury said. "But I was happy to let him have the start, man. He really earned it. He deserves it."
Defense a strength down the stretch for Iowa.