Basabe bringing a new look to the court

BY MATTHEW CABEL | JULY 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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Melsahn Basabe looks a little different on the court these days.

He had a breakout freshman year, 2010-11, but the junior forward suffered a sophomore slump this past season. He's using the summer Prime Time League to get back on track.

He showed just how far he's come back on Sunday when he led all scorers with 32 points on 14-of-23 shooting. The Hawkeye sparked his team, Jill Armstrong of Skogman Reality, to a 109-94 victory over Culvers/Ready Mix in the North Liberty Recreation Center.

He also wears a newly styled Mohawk now.

The new-look Basabe also added 9 rebounds and 2 assists to the stat sheet. He also seems to have discovered a rhythm with incoming freshman point guard Mike Gesell, who assisted Basabe numerous times. Together, the duo combined to total 32 of their team's 57 first-half points.

"I love playing with [Melsahn]," Gesell said. "He had some good matchups, so I just had to keep going back to him. As a point guard, you have to look for the mismatches you have on the floor, and he definitely had a mismatch tonight. He was killing it down there."

Basabe's once-limited shot availability, which had shrunk mostly to shots in the low post, seemed to expand on Sunday. He made numerous jumpers from the outside — shots that struggled to go through the hoop during his sophomore season. He also helped to spread the floor, which opened up lanes for him to drive to the basket. These drives resulted in numerous 3-point play opportunities for Basabe, who shot 4-of-5 from the stripe.

His presence under the basket and his height helped the junior to snare rebounds and create second-chance shot opportunities for his teammates. Basabe ran the floor strongly as well, leaving the rim shaking numerous times with slam dunks created off fast breaks.

Basabe's contributions on the defensive end of the court played a large role in his team's victory as well. He was a threat under the basket — he blocked and altered numerous shots in the first half. His defense on fellow forward Aaron White prevented the sophomore from driving the lane and getting the shot selections he prefers.

"We try to make each other better," White said. "He's a good competitor, he's fun to play against, and toward the end he dominated. He thrives in games like this."

But Basabe believes he can do more. He wants to keep improving during an upcoming trip to Europe.

"I don't know how many rebounds I had. I was trying to go for 20 rebounds before the game, and I don't think I got there," he said. "I need to keep progressing and showing it through my performances … I'm going to let my performances speak; I'm not going to really talk about it too much."

White believes that Basabe will continue to improve as the offseason progresses.

"I know he was disappointed with his sophomore season," White said. "I know he's been in the gym working hard. We're all behind him. He's going to have an opportunity to have a good season."

As for the Mohawk?

"That's staying," Basabe said. "At least until Coach McCaffery tells me to get rid of it."

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