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White’s status still up in the air

BY DANNY PAYNE | JANUARY 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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In a perfect world for the Iowa men’s basketball team, Aaron White would be 100 percent healthy, and the Hawkeyes would be at full strength heading into their matchup with Wisconsin.

Unfortunately for Iowa, the world is not perfect, and the Hawkeyes could play the team that beat them by 32 points 10 days ago without White, who leads the team in seemingly any category that comes to mind.

“We really won’t know [his status] until we go through what we go through [Thursday] and [Friday],” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “Obviously, he can run. It’s the other stuff that could be problematic for him when he starts to play.

“We don’t know.”

McCaffery noted that Iowa won’t risk a further injury if there is a substantial chance White could sustain further injury to his neck and shoulder. If the Strongsville, Ohio, native is unable to play, McCaffery said there are “options,” which include going small and starting Anthony Clemmons, giving freshman Dom Uhl his first career start, or adding a bit of height to the lineup in Josh Oglesby.

But when asked, White had a different view.

“I expect to play,” he said. “I mean, I’m not going to play if I can’t play. I’m either playing full, or I’m not.”

If he is able to go, Iowa must hope his comments ring true.

The Badgers absolutely trounced the Hawkeyes when the two teams played in Madison fewer than two weeks ago. Although White only scored 7 points on 2-of-5 shooting from the floor in limited minutes, Iowa is clearly better with him. At a bare minimum, White — who hasn’t missed a whole game because of injury in his college career — brings experience and a smart, veteran presence on the floor.

If Clemmons starts, Iowa will be undersized against Wisconsin, which has an average starting lineup of more than 6-6. If Uhl starts, Iowa loses virtually nothing height-wise, but does lose experience in the starting lineup. If Oglesby starts, Iowa loses offensive firepower; the senior is shooting a measly 27.8 percent from the field.

With or without White, however, Iowa still has players who can pick up some of the slack. Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes with 12 points last time against the Badgers, and Mike Gesell took over for a stretch in the Hawkeyes’ last game, a loss at Purdue, scoring 12-straight points late in the game.

“That’s the way he always played and that’s the way I want him to play,” McCaffery said. “I want him to play with that kind of aggressiveness offensively. I’ve been pleased with him and his development.”

While there are questions surrounding this team, there are a few things clear, too. And, of course, the biggest is whether the Hawkeyes can put the game in Madison in the rear-view mirror.

“We just had a little setback; we’re all capable of bringing ourselves right,” Clemmons said. “… I think we lost so bad that no one will remember that. Games like that, you just have to look at the flaws and try to correct them.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s basketball team.


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