This is the second part of a two part story about the Hawkeye men’s basketball season with Sherman Dillard, assistant coach. Last week, we looked at the regular season and talked about how good an all around player Matt Gatens was. This week we’ll look at the Big Ten Tournament, the NIT, returning players and the new recruits.
Iowa picked up a really good win in the Big Ten Tournament, knocking off Illinois, 64-61.
Matt Gatens had never beaten Illinois so it was fitting that he iced the game with two free throws with 10 seconds left.
“We got the monkey off our back,” said coach Dillard. “Winning that game will bode well for the future.”
The Hawks had lost five straight opening round games in the Big Ten Tournament. They lost the next game to top seeded Michigan State, 92-75, but have something to build on.
The NIT was up next as Iowa hosted the Dayton Flyers.
I have been to a lot of games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena throughout the years and this was one of the loudest crowds I remember.
The Hawkeyes won 84-75 and would get knocked out by Oregon 108-97, but would finish with a winning record, 18-17.
“That was an incredible experience for all of us,” said Sherman about the Dayton win. “What a terrific crowd. You could feel it when you walked out on the court. That was another major step in building the program.”
The Hawks have a good returning group led by three sophomores– Zach McCabe, Devyn Marble and Melsahn Basabe.
Zach played in all 35 games starting the last 30. He was third on the team in rebounding (4.6) and fifth in scoring (7.8). He scored in double figures 10 times and had a career-high 20 points three times.
“Zach was so versatile being able to play inside and guard bigger guys and he could shot from the perimeter and knock down some shots,” said coach Dillard. “He could spread the defense and open up some things inside.”
Zach is one of those blue collar guys that you want on the team. He brings it every time and when he learns to cut back on early fouls, he will move up to the next level.
Devyn Marble would get my vote for runner-up MVP behind Matt Gatens. He played in every game, starting 27, led the team in steals (53) and was second in scoring (11.5) and assists (125).
Devyn also started at point when Bryce Cartwright was hurt and did a great job when he played the shooting guard.
How about Iowa’s final game of the season when they lost to Oregon despite Devyn scoring a career-high 31 points including 7-8 from 3-point range. He also had five boards, five assists and no turnovers.
Melsahn Basabe struggled early, but came off the bench to give the Hawks a spark at the end of the season.
Mel started the year at 235 pounds but didn’t have the quickness he showed as a freshman. He cut back to 225 and led the team in blocked shots with 35.
“Much was made out of Mel’s slow start,” said Sherman. “It was great to see Mel fight through that. I’ve always believed that when things are coming hard for you, you’ve got to work harder on the court. I thought he became a much more confident player at the end of the season.”
Eric May will be the only senior on the team. When Eric is healthy he has as much talent as anyone on the team.
Eric played in 33 games, starting 21, but only averaged 14.7 minutes a game.
In Eric’s first two years he averaged 31 minutes as a freshman and 25 as a sophomore.
“The injuries held him back,” said the coach. “He’s one of the most likable kids you’ll ever be around and one of the best athletes on the team.”
I think the biggest surprise was Aaron White, who not only started the second half of the year but made the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
Aaron played in every game, starting 14, led the team in rebounding (5.7), was third on the team in scoring (11.1) and steals (31) and second in blocks (23).
When I saw him play last summer in Prime Time (PT) I thought he would be good, but not that good. He hit the game winning shot in the PT championship game and kept getting more confident all season.
“I think if you notice the way he plays, he does have a swagger about him,” said the coach. “The thing about Aaron is he plays taller than he is because of his long arms. He is a gym rat and he has this disposition that he is never satisfied.”
Josh Oglesby showed some flashes of greatness hitting 45 three-pointers, which was second on the team. He played in all 35 games with five starts.
“Josh is a terrific shooter but I think he’s more than a shooter,” said Sherman. “He moves well with out the ball, he knows how to get open and has tremendous range. As time goes on, people are going to like what they see in that young man.”
Gabe Olaseni will keep getting better. He only played in 18 games but ran the court well and is still learning the game.
“Pound for pound, inch for inch, Gabe is probably our best athlete,” said Sherm. “He’s got a terrific motor and he’s worked extremely hard in the off season. Fans will be impressed with his development and it will happen sooner than later.”
The five new recruits are led by 7-0, 235-pound Adam Woodbury from Sioux City East. It was down to Iowa and North Carolina and Roy Williams, NC’s coach, went home with a “No thanks, I’m going to be a Hawkeye.”
Mike Gesell (6-1, 180) is another top-100 recruit from South Sioux City, Neb., that will play point guard for the Hawks.
Mike and Adam have played together in the summer, which should help when they play together as Hawkeyes.
They both have a shot at starting next fall and so much has already been written about them that I will wait to see them in Prime Time before writing about the two.
Anthony Clemons (6-1, 185) and Patrick Ingram (6-2, 190) will bring speed and quickness to the guard court, something Iowa lacked the last couple of years.
Anthony plays the point, can score and play the two spot.
“Clemons is going to give us a much needed floor general with Mike,” said Sherman. “He has terrific vision, can handle the ball and make plays.”
Patrick is a shooting guard who is a three year starter from Indianapolis, Ind.
“Patrick brings that same level of toughness,” said the coach. “He’s a slasher, can score and will be a very good defender for us.”
Kyle Meyer (6-10, 220) is a forward from Georgia that can play the three or four position.
“Kyle has tremendous bounce and is a very skilled kid at that size,” said Sherman.
Size, speed and athletic talent are just what the Hawkeyes need.
Prime Time starts Tuesday, June 19. It should be fun to watch even though the UNI men won’t be there.