Iowa Men's Basketball Notebook: Woodbury, Olaseni combination could be lethal for Hawkeyes


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Throughout the off-season, head coach Fran McCaffery hinted at the possibility of Adam Woodbury and Gabriel Olaseni playing on the court at the same time this season.

While the duo didn’t see any time together in Iowa’s Nov. 3 exhibition win against Augustana, they did combine for 18 points and 19 rebounds, numbers McCaffery would gladly accept during the regular season.

“Between those two guys, they go at it every day, and their numbers have been spectacular, which is interesting because they're both really trying to stop the other one,” the coach said. “But they're both different. Their games are different, and I think it's been good for both of them that way.”

The preseason has provided plenty of battles between the two players. And Olaseni and Woodbury have both felt the effects of facing one another on a daily basis in practice.

“I’ve got a few cuts and bruises; I’m sure he’s got some, too,” Olaseni said. “But I’m sure a lot of guys do. We play pretty hard. It’s all for more wins at the end of the day, so it’s fine.”

Olaseni is more than two years older than his counterpart down low, but it’s expected that Woodbury is going to get majority of the playing time at center this season. Olaseni isn’t concerned with his minutes at this point, and the London, England, native expressed his optimism that Woodbury can be a dominant force for the Hawkeyes this season.

“I think confidence is key in any young player,” Olaseni said. “I’ve just seen his ability to finish around the rim a lot more. He’s more athletic than he was last year, shooting the jumper much better and his free throws have improved as well. I’m excited for him.

“It’s exciting every day, waking up knowing you’re going up against a 7-footer that’s as skilled as him. I’m looking forward to it.”

Hawkeyes sick of preseason hype, ready to start season

There’s no question this is the most hyped Iowa basketball season in recent memory. What comes with that is added pressure and anxiety for the players.

They seem to be handling it as well as it could be handled. But at the same time, players have expressed their irritation with the non-stop talk and are ready to hit the court in a game that counts.

“Expectations for the team, we have that pressure on us, but at the same time it’s good thing because it encourages us to play better as a team,” forward Jarrod Uthoff said.

Iowa will officially begin its season Friday, when North Carolina-Wilmington will visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

It’s possible that the team could be a little too excited and some rust and nerves could be evident Friday. But in a way, playing in an actual game should serve as some relief for members of the team, seeing as the preseason has been such a drain mentally.

“It’s always good to go against someone other than your teammates,” Olaseni said. “We’ve been doing that for a long time right now, before Europe. So we’re just looking forward to playing in front of our fans and to rack up a few wins this season.”

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