Notebook: Hawkeye men's basketball not concerned with prognostications

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s basketball team still has some work to do if it wants to reach the NCAA Tournament, according to national pundits. And the Hawkeyes say they don’t care.

Sophomore forward Aaron White said the prognosticators, such as ESPN’s Joe Lunardi or CBS’ Seth Davis, provide more entertainment than influence.

“They really don’t have as big of an impact on the selection committee as people would think,” White said. “They’re not even on the committee; they’re just experts that predict this and that.
“You see the last four in, first four out, next four out, stuff like that. That’s all for TV, to be honest with you.”

Many analysts believe the Hawkeyes need to win the conference tournament this weekend if they hope to reach their first NCAA Tournament since 2006. Other predictions say winning just two or three games will be enough. Head coach Fran McCaffery said that’s all part of March in college basketball, but his players ultimately have to take care of what’s in front of them.

“They’re hearing [the predictions], maybe I should address it,” McCaffery said. “But I haven’t really talked at length about it. To me we have to win on Thursday night [against Northwestern] … You can talk about all that other stuff. We’ve got to win on Thursday night.”

Gesell to play Thursday

The Hawkeyes will get their starting point guard back against the Wildcats. Mike Gesell suffered a stress reaction — which is a disruption of bone metabolism because of repeated stress but isn’t a fracture — against Nebraska on Feb. 21 and hasn’t been in the lineup since.

McCaffery said Gesell will play against Northwestern on Thursday, although he wasn’t sure if the freshman would start.

“That would still be up in the air, [we’ll] see how he does today and tomorrow,” McCaffery said. “It’s a good possibility, though.”

Olaseni developing

Gabe Olaseni saw his minutes sharply increase in the wake of Gesell’s injury. The sophomore was averaging 9.2 minutes per game beforehand, and hehas played 18 minutes per game in the four games since.

Olaseni hasn’t disappointed Hawk fans with his performance. The Londoner has posted 11 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in his last four contests, including 10 blocks in his last two outings.

McCaffery said Olaseni has been able to relax more this season as he’s gotten more comfortable with his own game. Devyn Marble said that newfound comfort has changed the team’s dynamic from the start of conference play.

“[The team] is much different,” Marble said. “We’re even better defensively now, with another guy that can block shots at the rim and really cause havoc down there. He can rebound. And he’s one of the best big men I’ve ever played with as far as running the court.

“He brings a different dimension and dynamic to the game than other big men bring.”

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