Woodbury finding other ways to contribute to Iowa men's basketball

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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Adam Woodbury came to Iowa City with many high expectations placed upon his shoulders. A four-star center recruit who spurned a scholarship offer from North Carolina, he was the cornerstone of a top-25 recruiting class for the Hawkeyes.

The freshman has failed to live up to those expectations as his inaugural season is winding down. But neither he nor his coaches is worried about that.

“I could care less what other people think,” Woodbury said. “My coaching staff has set [expectations] of what they want out of me, and obviously, I have high expectations for myself.”

Woodbury is currently averaging just 4.6 points per contest and shooting 47 percent from the floor this season — a steep drop-off from the 17 points per game and 63 percent clip he posted as a senior at Sioux City East last year.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said people might have been premature with their expectations based on Woodbury’s prep career. He also said the degree of preparation at the college level is a new challenge for the 7-1 freshman.

“If you look at it intelligently, you can never really look at what a guy does offensively in high school,” McCaffery said. “He’s scoring baskets last year in high school against guys who were 6-1. He was an effective scorer in the AAU circuit against guys 6-7, 6-11. But nobody’s scouting you [at that level].”

“He’s got to now figure out ‘What are teams doing to me and how can I be an effective member of this team on the offensive end of the floor even without scoring,’ ” the coach said.

Woodbury has found other ways to contribute this season. He averages 4.9 rebounds per game in just under 16 minutes per contest, and he has also shown himself to be an adept passer in the post.

He said that’s good enough — for now.

“That is something I can hang my hat on a little bit,” Woodbury said. “I’m trying to compete every night out on the glass and give our team a better chance to win … But if you reach a point and you’re happy to settle for that, I think you need to walk away.”

Woodbury has also had to deal with the physicality of the Big Ten. He has gotten pushed around by some of the conference’s best big men, but McCaffery said he isn’t soft and refuses to back down. That’s something Woodbury learned long before he put on the Black and Gold.

“My brother used to kick my ass every day, so he’s got it in my mind just to be tough out there,” Woodbury said. “He’s really been a key to my success. I try never to be scared out there. If you’re intimidated on the court, you’re in a lot of trouble.”

That’s not the only way he learned to play tough on the floor, according to fellow freshman Mike Gesell.

“He [was] going against kids a lot shorter than him, football players going out for the basketball team to bang him around, maybe foul him a little bit,” guard Mike Gesell said with a grin. “I think that’s what we did at South Sioux.”

The freshman center has also battled foul trouble all season, and it’s held him back — McCaffery said if he could play Woodbury the number of minutes he deserves, he’d lead the Big Ten in rebounding. 

Woodbury said it seems like the veteran players get a few extra calls, but added, “that’s only fair.”
It’s all part of a challenge he prepared himself for.

“It hasn’t always been easy,” Woodbury said. “But I knew coming into this it wasn’t going to be.”

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