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Fuller emerging as key contributor

BY BRENDAN STILES | JANUARY 18, 2010 7:30 AM

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During the early portion of the 2009-10 season, Iowa sophomore Aaron Fuller was hobbled by an ankle injury he suffered during a Nov. 20 victory over Bowling Green.

The injury wasn’t severe enough to keep him out for long — he only missed two games after attempting to give it a go against Texas, currently ranked No. 1 nationally — but it hampered his play.

Then came this past week.

Not only has the Iowa men’s basketball team won two-straight games after a 67-64 victory on Jan. 16 over Penn State, but Fuller has slowly emerged into one of the key focal points in the Hawkeyes’ success now that he has what head coach Todd Lickliter described as “two good wheels.”

When Iowa ended a four-game losing streak with a 67-62 win against Tennessee State on Jan. 12, Fuller posted career-highs with 24 points and 10 rebounds, giving the 6-6 forward the first double-double of his Hawkeye career. He did so shooting 10-of-15 from the field.

After that victory over the Tigers, the Mesa, Ariz., native talked about how his will to win was what powered him to have such an impressive performance.

Against the Nittany Lions, Fuller’s presence in the paint ultimately made the difference — he once again recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 boards. This time, he shot 6-of-9 and knocked down 8-of-10 free throws for Iowa.

What made his stat line against Penn State even more astounding was that seven of Fuller’s 10 rebounds came at the offensive end of the court.

“He really hurt us on the glass,” Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis said. “We knew that going in he was the best offensive rebounder. We talked about it for two days, but we just didn’t execute. We didn’t keep him off the glass.”

Fuller credits his performance, as Lickliter does, to having a healthier ankle. But he also made mention of his confidence level.

“I feel like I can help my team out a lot more grabbing rebounds and finishing plays,” he said after the Penn State game. “I just want to keep being aggressive. Opportunities have come to me, and I just took advantage of it.”

The recent play coming from Fuller has also made his teammates take notice, especially after having seen him spend the bulk of the previous off-season working on becoming a stronger athlete.

“I think he has made a huge progression from the beginning of the year until now,” freshman guard Cully Payne said after the Penn State game. “He’s a great player. I’ve known it since the summer when we played. It’s coming out now.”

And while Lickliter doesn’t anticipate Fuller to post a double-double every time Iowa takes the hardwood, he does believe Fuller will keep showing consistency with making strides as a rebounder.

“As long as he keeps going to the offensive glass like that, he’s going to be very productive,” Lickliter said. “He has a great knack for positioning himself in the right spots.”


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