Iowa takeaways: Woodbury's minutes, bulked-up forwards, bold freshmen
IOWA CITY, Ia. — This is a big senior year for Adam Woodbury. And there are expectations to match from his head coach.
Fran McCaffery said during Wednesday’s Iowa basketball media day that he expects Woodbury to play “30 to 36” minutes per game.
“Unless he's in foul trouble,” McCaffery said. “We've got to be careful how we use him.”
That minute total raised some eyebrows, considering Woodbury’s high last season was 29 against Texas. But then again, who else does Iowa have at center? Gabe Olaseni, last year’s Sixth Man of the Year in the Big Ten Conference, is now a German pro.
Woodbury averaged 20.5 minutes a game last year, Olaseni 18.3. It was an excellent time-share in the post, but 2015-16 is going to be all about the 7-foot-1 returning player.
“As I told somebody the other day, I could’ve played 30-plus minutes last year,” Woodbury said. “But it wasn’t called upon me. They didn’t ask me to do that, so I didn’t. This year, they’re calling upon me to do that, so I will.”
Woodbury often played entire games in the summer Prime Time League to help build his endurance. With extended minutes, McCaffery made another bold statement about the Sioux City native, who averaged 6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds as a junior.
“He's going to play a lot more now. So you'll see his numbers improve, without question,” McCaffery said. “He's a guy that could lead the Big Ten in rebounding. Will he? I think he could. Thirty-four, 35 minutes, he could be a 10-12 rebound-a-game guy.”
Woodbury’s new backup
Dom Uhl is the new Olaseni. McCaffery said he expected the 6-9 sophomore to play multiple positions, including the 5. That assignment was a bit of a surprise to Uhl, who was a perimeter-oriented forward as a freshman.
“I’ll still play the same way, just at a different position,” Uhl said.
But he’s added 21 pounds since last season, from 195 to 216.
“Lifted like crazy when I went back home to New Jersey and ate a lot,” Uhl said.
He doesn’t drink soda; he ate mostly chicken for protein, cutting beef from his diet.
“Gabe told me it’s not really good for you,” Uhl said.
Speaking of stronger ...
Jarrod Uthoff is carrying 220 pounds — up from 205 last year — on his 6-9 frame. The weight gain has been a good thing for the third-team all-Big Ten pick.
“I thought I’d be slower, but I’m really not,” Uthoff said. “I feel faster. I feel like I can compete longer.”
Uthoff is your go-to guy, with No. 2 all-time leading scorer and No. 3 rebounder Aaron White on to professional ball in Germany.
“I would expect him to be very aggressive. I want him to be aggressive,” McCaffery said. “He's got a unique game, and at 6-9 he's got that kind of versatility. So I'm excited about that.”
New number, new attitude
Peter Jok is wearing No. 14 this season, moving past the No. 3 he wore during his first two seasons at Iowa. The reason?
“Just a new start,” he said.
The former West Des Moines Valley star has high hopes and confidence for his junior season after averaging 7.0 points as a sophomore. His asthma symptoms have dwindled since he cut out soda from his diet. He’s getting more sleep. And he’s feeling as good as ever, which is good timing when one considers he may be the No. 2 scoring option behind Uthoff.
“I feel no pressure,” Jok said. “I’m ready to get the season started. I’ve never felt this confident.”
Like last year, expect senior guard Anthony Clemmons to play some at both guard positions – as Mike Gesell’s backup at the point, and possibly as a starter at shooting guard.
The senior from Lansing, Mich., had a great answer on the 1-vs.-2 question.
“McCaffery will be the judge of that,” said Clemmons, who led the team in 3-point accuracy at 37.3 percent as a junior and is the team’s top defender. “What’s best is having me on the floor. … With my confidence and my ability and the things I bring to the floor, as I say, ‘You keep me on the floor. We’re going to win games.’”
Welcome to Iowa City
Isaiah Moss was the only freshman out of five that didn’t take summer classes at Iowa, as he dealt with an academic hurdle in Chicago before reaching campus. He got here Aug. 18, and he’s good to go now — a big relief to the 6-5 wing.
“I didn’t have any doubts,” Moss said. “My mom and dad really helped me throughout the process. I was just staying focused on everything, and got through.”
Moss described himself as a “slasher” on offense, but acknowledged he was a step behind his classmates in the basketball sense.
Fellow Chicagoan Brandon Hutton is likely competing with Moss for minutes at the 2 and 3.
“We’re all battling (for playing time). But at the end of the day, we’re all one,” Hutton said. “We go to war with each other and for each other. If we’re not out there playing, we’re out there cheering on the bench. Our time will come, sooner or later.”
Less time for Twitter
Freshman Andrew Fleming ditched Twitter a little while back after feeling like he lost focus with what was important.
“A lot of stuff was going on in my life,” Fleming said. “And I just wanted some time to focus on my relationship with Jesus, trying to focus in on that and focus in on my family.”
He even deleted the Twitter app from his phone, no easy decision for a 19-year-old alpha male in 2015.
“It was hard at first,” Fleming said. “But then I realized it’s funny, you really don’t need it.”
He’s back on Twitter again, mostly using it as a vehicle to quote Scripture. He’s focused on basketball, too. Fleming was one of the most impressive freshmen in the PTL over the summer and could play at the 1, 2 or 3.
“I’m trying to build trust in Coach, that he can put me in at any time,” Fleming said. “If there’s a couple minutes left and the game’s tight, I want to be in there. That’s all I’m really trying to do is gain that trust.”
BREAKING DOWN THE HAWKEYES
Coach: Fran McCaffery, 347-252 overall (18 seasons), 96-75 at Iowa (five seasons).
Last season: 22-12 (12-6 in Big Ten, t-3rd), recorded program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2001, 82-50 over Davidson. Lost in NCAA round of 32 to Gonzaga.
Key departures: F Aaron White (first-team all-Big Ten, team-highs of 16.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 1.3 spg), C Gabe Olaseni (Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year, 8.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg), G Josh Oglesby (146 career 3-pointers).
Key newcomers: F Ahmad Wagner (Yellow Springs, Ohio), F Dale Jones (Waterloo/Tyler JC), G Andrew Fleming (Nashville, Tenn.), G Isaiah Moss (Chicago), G Christian Williams (Decatur, Ill.), F Brandon Hutton (Chicago).
October—29: vs. Sioux Falls (exhibition).
November—6: vs. Augustana, S.D. (exhibition); 13: vs. Gardner-Webb, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN3); 15: vs. Coppin State, 4 p.m. (BTN); 19: at Marquette, 8 p.m. (Fox Sports 1); 26-29: at Advocare Invitational, Orlando, Fla. (opener vs. Dayton, 8 p.m., ESPN2).
December—2: vs. Florida State, 8:15 p.m. (ESPNU); 5: vs. UMKC, 2 p.m. (ESPN3); 7: vs. Western Illinois, 6 p.m. (BTN); 10: at Iowa State, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2); 19: vs. Drake at Big Four Classic, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3); 22: vs. Tennessee Tech, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3); 29: vs. Michigan State, 8 p.m. (BTN).
January—2: at Purdue, 5 p.m. (BTN); 5: vs. Nebraska, 8 p.m. (BTN); 14: at Michigan State, 6 pm. (ESPN or ESPN2); 17: vs. Michigan, 1 or 3:30 p.m. (BTN); 21: at Rutgers, 6 p.m. (ESPNU); 24: vs. Purdue, Noon (BTN); 28: at Maryland, 6 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPNU); 31: vs. Northwestern, 2 p.m. (BTN).
February—3: vs. Penn State, 6 p.m. (ESPNU); 7: at Illinois, Noon (BTN); 11: at Indiana, 8 p.m. (BTN or ESPN2); 14: vs. Minnesota, 6:30 p.m. (BTN); 17: at Penn State, 5:30 p.m. (BTN); 24: vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m. (BTN); 27 or 28: at Ohio State, 11 a.m. or 3 p.m. (BTN or CBS).
March—1: vs. Indiana, 8 p.m. (ESPN); 5: at Michigan, 7 p.m. (BTN); 9-13: Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
IOWA MEN’S ROSTER (scholarship players)
Anthony Clemmons (6-2, 193, Sr.): Offensive skill of team’s top defender goes underappreciated.
Brady Ellingson (6-4, 189, RS Fr.): Medical redshirt gives smart sharpshooter four more years.
Andrew Fleming (6-5, 198, Fr.): Scorer’s mentality. Averaged 25.8 points and 21.6 shots in PTL.
Mike Gesell (6-2, 190, Sr.): Understands his role as distributor-first, but can score in a pinch.
Brandon Hutton (6-5, 212, Fr.): Built like a rock; his goal is to become Big Ten’s best defender.
Peter Jok (6-6, 199, Jr.): Viewed as No. 2 scoring option. Seeing positive results of healthier diet.
Dale Jones (6-7, 217, Jr.): JUCO forward is more comfortable behind 3-point line than inside.
Isaiah Moss (6-5, 196, Fr.): Unknown but exciting quantity after missing PTL with academic issue.
Dom Uhl (6-9, 216, Soph.): Had a terrific summer and is bulked-up. Could see time at 3, 4 and 5.
Jarrod Uthoff (6-9, 220, Sr.): Go-to scorer may be most versatile Hawkeye of Fran McCaffery era.
Ahmad Wagner (6-7, 222, Fr.): Recruited by Ohio State in football, his big body also excels in transition.
Christian Williams (6-6, 188, Fr.): Point guard is preferred role, but stuck behind Gesell/Clemmons.
Adam Woodbury (7-1, 249, Sr.): Top-100 recruit’s final stand. Has upgraded endurance, outside shot.
Walk-ons: Nicholas Baer (6-7, 198, RS Fr.), Michael Soukup (6-4, 164, Jr.), Steven Soukup (6-4, 168, Jr.), Okey Ukah (6-7, 217, Sr.).