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Basabe gets back to the boards

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | JANUARY 25, 2012 7:20 AM

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Fran McCaffery's goal for Melsahn Basabe is simple.

Be yourself.

The sophomore forward appeared to have figured things out after a cold start to the season. Basabe averaged better than 13 points per game and shot better than 57 percent from the floor during the month of December.

But Basabe's slump appears to have resurfaced. He scored 4 points per game over Iowa's last five contests. Basabe's lack of productivity is also partially responsible for his average of just 16.8 minutes in those games.

The second-year coach said Tuesday Basabe will remain in Iowa's starting lineup, but he wants him sticking to his basketball identity.

"I'm just trying to get him to go back to doing what he does," McCaffery said. "That's run the floor, rebound, and block shots. Don't try to be what you're not … I think players who do that get into trouble."

Basabe's recent performances are certainly disappointing for a player who averaged more points (11.0) and rebounds (6.8) last year on the way to being selected to the Big Ten's All-Freshman team. But the Glen Cove, N.Y., native might be his own most heated critic.

Asked to grade his performance thus far this season, Basabe said, "C-minus, D. I'm a hard grader on myself, so, really, if you ask me, I might say F."

Basabe said he's placing a renewed emphasis on rebounding. Watching star Kansas forward Thomas Robinson yank down 10 boards on TV Monday night reminded him of the importance of attacking the glass and the good it can lead to for the rest of a player's game.

"It was crazy because he just got every rebound," he said. "That's how he dominated the game, and everything else fell into place."

The same mentality allowed Basabe to prosper in high school.

"That's what I'm going to do from here on out … just try to get every rebound," Basabe said. "That's how I started my career, and then I let everything else come."

Iowa prepares for first game in nine days

The Hawkeyes' game against Nebraska on Thursday will mark their first contest since a 75-68 loss at Purdue on Jan. 17. Iowa continued its regular practice schedule, though players received two days off.

"For us, I think it was a good thing in terms of where it was timed," McCaffery said. "We just started the new semester academically, so they had a chance to refocus there. We had a couple of guys with nagging injuries, they got a chance to take care of those."

McCaffery said the squad was able to largely forget about any opponent during the layoff, instead sharpening up its own offensive and defensive sets. Freshman guard Josh Oglesby said the team is implementing 15 to 20 new plays. But in the midst of his first college season, the Cedar Rapids native was particularly thankful for the break for another reason.

"It helped us get everything settled for the rest of the year," Oglesby said. "It's a long season — especially for the freshmen. I'm dead tired."

McCaffery also acknowledged the possibility of a negative effect from the layoff. He said teams naturally fall into a routine of playing two games a week with two-day prep periods in between.

"Will we be a little rusty?" he said. "We'll find out."

Follow DI men's basketball reporter Jordan Garretson on Twitter.

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