Basabe brings the goods for Iowa men's basketball

BY TORK MASON | JANUARY 30, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s “Slime Time” once again in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Junior forward Melsahn Basabe has provided an invaluable spark off the bench this season, and he averages 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in relief for the Iowa men’s basketball team.

Head coach Fran McCaffery acknowledged the possibility of putting Basabe back into the starting lineup for Thursday’s contest against Penn State. It’s something McCaffery said he would weigh after seeing the junior’s performance in practice this week, and he praised the efforts Basabe has given.

“A lot of times when you look at this, it’s not as simple as it may appear,” McCaffery said.

“Obviously, he’s playing well. So the logical conclusion is, ‘We’ll just put him in the starting lineup.’ It may be the right thing for the team; it may not be, because he’s playing the best basketball of the last two years coming off the bench.”

After an All-Big Ten freshman team campaign in 2010-11, Basabe battled through a sophomore slump and saw his minutes and effectiveness suffer because of it. The Glen Cove, N.Y., native averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds as a freshman, but he put up just 8 and 5 in his second year when he was relegated to the bench after 21 games.

Basabe said playing as a reserve has helped him move forward because it served as a wake-up call and made him appreciate his opportunities. But he said he’s not proud of the improvements he’s made thus far.

“If anything, I feel I should have been bringing this last year,” Basabe said. “I don’t really focus on the past. I just think, ‘I have enough talent, I have a lot of experience, so I should be playing to my potential.’ ”

Junior Devyn Marble said his roommate has matured over the last year and that dwelling on past performances — both good and bad — may have held Basabe back at times.

“That would be the difference between having self-confidence and being cocky,” Marble said.

“When you let stuff that’s good happen and linger too long; or not having any self-confidence when you have a bad game to know that you’re still a good player and you can go out there and show that in the next game.

“You’ve just got to find a balance with the two for your own personal good.”

Now Basabe, potentially closing in on his first start since Jan. 26, 2012, said he has to remember the lessons he’s learned over the last year — whether or not he hears his name announced during pregame introductions.

“My thing is to keep myself humble, keep myself focused and use that information I’ve learned,” he said. “Because it’s not good to learn stuff and not use it or let your ego get in the way of [recognizing] weaknesses in your game, what you need to address.”

Marble said it won’t matter if Basabe plays from the opening tip. He can make just as big of an impact coming in as a reserve.

“It’s a role that’s more appreciated at the next level than it is here,” Marble said. “I don’t think coming off the bench is as appreciated as it should be. Being able to come off and provide a spark and finishing games … You want to finish and make sure you’re contributing to the team.

“To some people, [starting] matters; to some, it doesn’t.”

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