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Notebook: Woodbury set to give Iowa men’s basketball inside presence

BY TORK MASON | NOVEMBER 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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Adam Woodbury is giving the Iowa men’s basketball team something it’s lacked in recent years: a post presence.

The Hawkeyes played in a closed scrimmage against Creighton on Sunday, and head coach Fran McCaffery said he liked what he saw from Woodbury.

The freshman was matched up against Creighton’s Greg Echenique, who owned the paint against the Hawkeyes in last season’s matchup. Echenique recorded 15 points and 9 rebounds — just two fewer than all of Iowa’s frontcourt players combined — in the Blue Jays’ 82-59 victory on Nov. 20, 2011.

But Woodbury held his own and made Echenique labor during the scrimmage, McCaffery said.

“I thought Woodbury, from the very beginning, was banging with him and really made it hard on him, didn’t back down from him physically,” McCaffery said. “Woodbury is fearless. That’s what you need to see. Let’s face it, last year, Echenique had his way with us, absolutely had his way, could do whatever he wanted to do. That wasn’t the case. He certainly played well, but he had to work a lot harder.”

Woodbury said his performance gave him more confidence going forward.

“Playing against Division-I players, if you stack up well against them, it’s just going to give you more confidence when you go against your next opponent,” he said.

Hawkeyes have “different dynamic” without Gatens

Matt Gatens was the focal point of the Hawkeye offense last year and shouldered a heavy offensive load in the final month of the season. McCaffery said Gatens’ ability to draw extra defensive attention gave other players opportunities, and he thinks junior Devyn Marble can do that for this year’s squad.

“You’ve got a different dynamic now,” McCaffery said. “[Gatens] isn’t there. I think Marble has the same kind of confidence and approach that Matt had: ‘I know I’m good, I’ll stay within the framework of what we’ve designed, and I’ll be effective in that role.’”

But Marble said this year’s team is more “free” than last season. Players have more latitude to go off-script and just make plays, and he said there are more players who can thrive in those situations.

“We’ve got more guys who are confident in scoring the ball [this year],” Marble said. “Last year, we were looking for Matt to have to score a lot. Now, we’ve got plenty of guys that can score, and I don’t think one guy has to shoulder that responsibility night in and night out.”

White to play more on the wing

Aaron White spent the majority of his time playing power forward in 2011-12, but McCaffery said fans can expect to see more of the sophomore on the perimeter this year. White will have to make adjustments defensively, though.

“He’ll be [on the wing] some,” McCaffery said. He’ll go back and forth. He obviously didn’t guard any 3 men last year, so he’s got to do that out on the floor. Guys are going to take him off the dribble more than 4s and 5s.”

White said his height makes the rotations between playing in the paint and on the perimeter a little easier. His long arms allow him to play off of his man more than a shorter player could. There are still challenges for him to overcome defensively, though.

“The hardest thing for me is chasing them on screens,” White said. “At the beginning of practices, I didn’t know the footwork and had never played like that. It took me maybe a couple days to get used to it. It’s just basketball.”


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