Hawkeyes spell team C-O-L-E


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Jarryd Cole isn’t a superstar.

Iowa’s senior center doesn’t average 20 points per game. He doesn’t consistently throw down poster-worthy dunks or swat opposing shots into the bleachers. He doesn’t even really look like a center, because he stands only 6-7.

But if Cole isn’t a superstar, he’s one hell of a leader.

The 22-year-old is the longest-tenured Hawkeye on the team roster. The three-time cocaptain was recruited by Steve Alford and played three years for Todd Lickliter before making a seamless transition to Fran McCaffery’s fast-paced game. He has adapted to coaching changes, played through illness, and generally been Iowa’s rock since 2007.

Perhaps the best example of Cole’s role on the team came when he made the defensive play of the night in Iowa’s Feb. 5 win over Indiana. He took offense to Hoosier freshman Will Sheehey’s prance around the court after slamming a monster dunk on Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe, and he was waiting when Sheeheytried to swoop into the lane again on the next possession. The senior got his hand on Sheehey’s shot and stared the Hoosier down after the play.

“I’m not a flashy kind of guy, and I don’t like that being done to me or people I care about,” Cole said on Feb. 7. “I’m a father figure, I guess.”

The paternal attitude has been particularly important this year, because eight of the 14 players on the Hawkeye roster are Big Ten newbies in their first year with the team. Teaching these players the ins and outs of playing in one of the country’s most competitive conferences has fallen on Cole’s impossibly broad shoulders.

No one has benefited from his presence more than Basabe. The frontcourt duo don’t share the same skills — Basabe has the potential to be a bona fide Big Ten star — but the freshman has repeatedly said he’s glad to have Cole as a role model.

“In practice, he always gives 110 percent,” Basabe said on Dec. 7. “I definitely [feed] off him.”

And Cole is perfectly happy to provide the moral support and leadership for his younger teammates.

He is the consummate team player, and it’s almost impossible to persuade him to talk about himself. He even refused to take any credit when he ripped Northern Iowa for 10 points and a career-high 15 boards on Dec. 7, instead saying his numbers were a product of the in-state rivalry and near-capacity crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

None of this is lost on McCaffery. The Iowa coach has spent 15 years in charge of four different teams, but he said Cole provided one of the most inspirational performances he has ever seen when the center battled a gut-wrenching flu bug and contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds in the Hawkeyes’ win over Louisiana Tech on Dec. 21.

“Jarryd Cole’s performance [was] one of the guttiest that I’ve been around,” McCaffery said. “He was sick all night. We had to put an IV in him at noon. [He] hasn’t eaten anything in about a day and a half, and he gives us a double-double.”

Cole was too ill to speak to the media after that game, but it’s pretty easy to guess what he would have said.

It’s all about the team.

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