Woodbury and Olaseni face off in Prime Time League

BY KYLE MANN | JUNE 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s basketball team has had the luxury in the past couple of season of having two tall, productive big men down low in Gabe Olaseni and Adam Woodbury. On June 26, the two found themselves matched up against one another in the Prime Time League, giving Hawkeye fans a chance to see how they stack up.

Randy Larson’s team and Kevin Sanders’ team went down to the wire, with Larson’s — anchored by Woodbury — eventually winning, 107-106. The game was a treat for the fans in attendance, but that should be expected with such a notable head-to-head matchup.

“Every time you go against one of your teammates, you want to be able to say you tried your hardest and you did your best,” Olaseni said. He said that is even more pronounced at the Prime Time League, “because guys want to bring it because people are watching.”

Those in attendance saw Olaseni bounce back from just a unremarkable performance in Week 1 to score 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting, grab 6 rebounds, and swat away countless attempts at the rim.

One of his most emphatic blocks came from behind in chase-down fashion on — guess who? — Woodbury.

“He’s a freak athlete,” Woodbury said. “He’s a tough matchup for anybody; his size and athleticism is pretty unmatched by anyone I’ve seen in my first two years.”

Olaseni is working on becoming more than just a tall, lanky, athlete, however, and Woodbury sees the development.

“He’s still an elite athlete, but I know he’s gotten stronger,” Woodbury said. “He’s putting the ball on the deck real well, and his jumper looks good.”

Olaseni scored efficiently last season, but with an increased desire in the program to play the two on the floor together, he’s trying to work on his midrange game, which would better enable him to play the 4.

The 6-10 senior put together a promising performance, but Woodbury’s team won the game largely in part due to Sioux City native winning the head-to-head battle down low.

The 7-1 junior came into Thursday’s game as the league’s second leading scorer after a strong first week, and he picked up right where he had left off.

Woodbury was active all night, scoring 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the floor. He also corralled 9 rebounds, dished out 2 assists, and also had a handful of blocks. What’s really starting to stand out, however, is his ability to put the ball in the hoop.

Woodbury showed that he should still keep getting stronger to finish down low, but like Olaseni, is expanding his game out to the mid-range. 

“He is scoring very well,” Sanders said. “I noticed on four or five shots, he seems to have perfected it and has confidence.”

Woodbury agrees that he is becoming more confident, and after his strong first two weeks in Prime Time, sounds poised to have a breakout season that fans hoped for when he committed to his home-state Hawkeyes over such programs as North Carolina and Ohio State.

“I’ve improved in all aspects. I think my jumper’s gotten a little better; I’m more confident in it. I’m in better shape, and I got bigger and stronger,” Woodbury said. “I feel really good about my game right now. I’m playing a lot better than I did last year at this time, and hopefully, I take it into the season and continue to play well.”

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