The Hawkeye men’s basketball team had its first winning season in three years (18-17) and now is ready to take the next step.
What does that mean?
How about 20 wins, finishing in the top half of the Big Ten and making it to the Big Dance (the NCAA tournament)?
They have a chance, and with only one senior on the roster, the future looks bright.
Eric May (6-5, 217) is the last man standing. He came in with Cully Payne and Brandon Cougill, but they both are gone.
“I’m proud of sticking it out and I’m glad I did,” said Eric at media day last week. Eric is trying to step up his leadership role with Matt Gatens graduating.
“I have been trying to pick up speaking out, letting the guys know what needs to be done and how to do it,” said Eric, who has averaged 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in his career. “If leading by example, working hard is what I’ve got to do, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said Eric is finally healthy and in great shape.
The junior and freshman class will be the backbone of the team.
Zach McCabe (6-7, 232), Devyn Marble (6-6, 194) and Melsahn Basabe (6-7, 225) make up the junior class.
Zach has started 32 games in his first two years, averaging 7.8 points and 4.6 rebounds last year as a sophomore.
Zach said Matt Gatens helped him learn and understand the game the last two years. “I’m trying to get these young guys to understand what we’re trying to do,” said Zach. “It will be cool having Gabe (Olaseni )and Adam (Woodbury) in here. Having that size makes us a better basketball team.”
Aaron White (6-8, 225), Josh Oglesby (6-5, 190), Olaseni (6-10, 225) and Darius Stokes (6-7, 203) are sophomores and will help out with size and outside shooting.
Aaron needed to improve his conditioning in the off-season to get through the grind of the Big Ten.
“I worked on conditioning all summer and I think I’m in a lot better shape than I was last year,” said Aaron, who averaged 11.1 points and led the team in rebounding with 199 boards. “We have a lot of guys with a lot of talent and we’re a lot deeper than last year. The freshman are competitive and that’s what makes it fun.”
Josh will be counted on to hit the three pointer and Gabe might be the best athlete on the team. Gabe really showed some good offensive moves in the Prime Time league last summer.
The freshman are led by top recruits Adam Woodbury (7-1, 230) and Mike Gesell (6-1, 180).
Adam gives the Hawkeyes a solid Big Ten center that the Hawks haven’t had for a while.
Adam grew up a Hawkeye fan and is looking forward to being a Hawk.
“It’s really an honor,” said Adam about being a Hawkeye. “I’m really excited about it and to wear a jersey like this really means a lot to me.”
Both Adam and Mike are expected to start. They were teammates in AAU in high school which should help the transition.
Anthony Clemmons (6-1, 185), Patrick Ingram (6-2, 190) and Kyle Meyer (6-10, 220) round out the freshman class.
Mike, Anthony and Patrick are really good perimeter defenders, something Iowa hasn’t had in a few years.
I like the energy and the chemistry of this team.
Normally, it’s hard for a freshman to lead the team, but Mike Gesell is not your typical freshman. Mike took three classes this summer and got all A’s. Not surprising, as he was a 4.0 student in high school.
Coach McCaffery said the Hawks will press more and play more up-tempo.
The pieces are in place to make the next step. It will be fun to see how good they can be.