McCabe bounces back in Prime Time

BY CODY GREDELL | JULY 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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Plenty of players use the Prime Time League to get back into basketball shape after spending some time away from the game.

But some players, such as current Iowa sophomore Zach McCabe, use the league to improve their skills in hopes of having a better season.

McCabe, who averaged 5.8 points per game on 35 percent shooting for Iowa last season, is playing for Armstrong/Kroeger in the summer league, and he was a high draft selection for the squad. The No. 7 overall pick said he would like to improve on crucial fundamentals while participating in the league.

“Ball handling, not forcing so many turnovers, and just taking better shots,” he said when asked about what he was working on.

His Prime Time season got off to a late start — literally. The forward from Sioux City missed the entire first half of his team’s season-opener because of confusion over a late schedule change.

McCabe showed up just in time for the second half, but he played poorly and finished the game with only 2 rebounds and no points.

“I started a little bit slow,” he said.

But since then, things have gotten a lot better. The 6-7 post is averaging 14 points and 6.8 boards a contest — and 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in the five games since the season-opener.

“I [have] a little bit more confidence, and everything is starting to work out,” he said.

McCabe has helped lead his team back to a 3-3 record, including wins in three of the last four games.

“He’s getting better every game,” said Dan Aherns, McCabe’s Prime Time League coach. “That’s what I’m hoping these summer leagues are for.”

Aherns also said he has noticed a change in how McCabe runs the court.

“When he makes a shot, he gets back, and if he misses a shot, he gets back” Aherns said.

The coach said he thinks this could be a factor of McCabe’s increased confidence, which has him playing a much more controlled style of basketball than he was showing earlier in the season and for the Hawkeyes last year.

“He’s playing more physically,” Aherns said. “He’s playing more aggressively.”

This proved to be true on Sunday, when McCabe had arguably his best game of the season. He scored 26 points on 10-of-24 shooting, including hitting 5-of-10 from 3-point range. He also collected nine rebounds as he helped lead his team to an upset victory over previously undefeated Anthony Hubbard’s Coach’s Corner/Two Rivers squad.

The game was quite a turnaround from the last time Armstrong played Coach’s Corner, which was the game in which McCabe showed up late.

“Zach is playing really good basketball right now,” said Hubbard, who was held to 19 points in Sunday’s game. “I think if Zach continues to play aggressive — he’ll play like that every game.”

Hubbard also said he strongly believes that McCabe and the rest of the Hawkeyes can use Prime Time to improve on last season’s 11-20 record.

But for now, McCabe is focused on the possibility of winning the league championship.

“[I just need to] play my game and help the team win,” he said. “I like to win a lot, and that’s what I’m going to try to do. And once the [Iowa] season comes around, [I’ll] do anything to win [there, too].”

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