Woodbury, Olaseni show improvements in the post

BY MATT CABEL | JUNE 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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Gabe Olaseni and Adam Woodbury are only inches apart in height. And that’s where the similarities end. 

“It’s like yin and yang,” Olaseni said. “I’m the 6-10 athlete, he’s the 7-foot, back-you-down-low kind of guy. He’s got a good low-post game. We complement each other.” 

The two centers were primarily matched up against each other in Thursday’s Prime Time League early game, and they demonstrated that earning playing time in the post will be extremely competitive during the 2013-14 Hawkeye season. Olaseni tallied 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists, leading his team to a 96-91 victory. Woodbury turned in 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 1 assist. 

Olaseni, a player who was frequently on the end of the bench, became a force in his sophomore campaign. From his poster-worthy dunks in pregame warm-ups — and in game — to becoming a terror on the boards and blocking shots, the London native’s game has noticeably improved since April. 

“He was attacking in [the post],” forward Zach McCabe said. “He had opportunities inside, and he was taking them. That’s what he’s been working on all summer, and he’s been improving every day.”

The 6-10 center was calling for the ball inside the perimeter last night, passing it out to open teammates at the top of the key. Olaseni even brought the ball up the court on a few occasions.

It made no difference who was guarding him — and many did — because Olaseni’s shot looked confident. This is something he’s been working on nearly every day. Incoming freshman Peter Jok said Olaseni is already practicing when he arrives to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for practices, working on his jump shots, dribbling, hook shots, and free throws. 

“It was a good game between those two,” Jok said. “They were going at each other. At practice, they always go hard at each other, and that’s how you get better.”  

On Thursday night, with Woodbury on the bench, Olaseni received the ball at the top of the key.

Olaseni, normally a pass-first kind of player, pushed off his feet, took his big frame into the lane, cocked his arm back, and delivered a one-handed slam-dunk that left the rim rattling.   

“He’s getting better every day,” Woodbury said. “He’s capable of doing a lot of things. He’s getting more confident. The repetition he’s putting in is really paying off.” 

Woodbury also showed signs of improvement — including a jumper from 20 feet out, even though it came with Olaseni resting on the bench. Woodbury believes that playing against Olaseni makes him a bigger force in the post in game situations. 

Woodbury moved more fluidly under the basket as well. He asserted his dominance in the second half when he received the ball, pivoted under the basket, and finished with a left-hand lay-up over Olaseni — a good sign to see after the center struggled posting up against other bigs in the Big Ten. 

“It’s literally the same [matchup] as practice every day,” Olaseni said about guarding Woodbury. “We even try to compete against each other in the weight room, even running to the weight room.

“It brings out the best in us … but once we step off the court, it’s all love.”

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