Iowa basketball looks to move on


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Adam Woodbury hopes it “doesn’t happen again.” So much so that when he met with the media Wednesday afternoon, he said so — or some iteration of the phrase — seven times in just over a minute.

He hopes to move past it, it being the increased attention he’s received since poking Maryland’s Melo Trimble in the eye during Iowa’s 71-55 win on Sunday, the third incident of that sort for Woodbury in three weeks.

He hopes to move past the frenzy that has surrounded him since, past the questions of his character and integrity, and past the criticism that his coach faced when he refused to answer a question about the incident.

The quickest way to move past it arrives tonight, when Minnesota comes to Iowa City to square off against the Hawkeyes for the second time this season.

“As I said, it’s never happened in my career before, and now it happens three times in three weeks,” Woodbury said. “It’s part of the game. I feel bad that it happened, I don’t want it to happen again. It’s all been inadvertent.”

Luckily for Woodbury, he has two things in his favor. First, he has thick skin. He avoids social media; something he jokingly said has helped a lot. He also avoids television as much as possible, especially recently.

But even before he became one of the most scrutinized athletes at Iowa, Woodbury had thick skin. He attributes that to his brother and his parents, whom he says have taken the recent criticism the hardest.

“They’ve been hard on me, they’ve made me who I am,” he said. “You got to be resilient to play this game at this level and deal with all the scrutiny and stuff that comes with it.”

Through all the controversy, Woodbury has played some of his best basketball this season. He’s put up double-digits in his last two games, shot over 50 percent in the last four, and recently posted or tied career-highs in single-game points (16) and assists (6).

“I honestly don’t think it’s affected him at all,” said Mike Gesell, who was also an AAU teammate of Woodbury. “He does a good job of blocking out the noise.”

The second thing Woodbury has working for him is head coach Fran McCaffery, who took the majority of the heat for his response to a question about Woodbury, to which he told the reporter to “ask an intelligent question.”

Some outsiders called McCaffery a media bully. Others defended him.

“I’d much rather people be upset with me,” he said. “I get paid. For the most part, I don’t care what people think or what they say. I am who I am.”

McCaffery said he didn’t regret the statements he made after the Maryland game and iterated that he responded the way he did because he believed the question to be about the officiating, which he cannot respond to without facing a potential fine.

But in many ways, the attention he grabbed was intentional. Woodbury said McCaffery told the team he’d rather face the scrutiny than them, and Woodbury said he appreciated that.

“Let me tell you this: If I thought he poked somebody in the eye on purpose, you wouldn’t have to ask me if somebody was going to suspend him. I would suspend him immediately, and he knows that,” McCaffery said. “There is no place for that. Who does that? Who encourages that? Nobody.”

Inadvertent or not, it’s no secret that Woodbury will be under scrutiny for the remainder of the season. One more mistake, and this same situation will be repeated, if not more severely.

Woodbury is aware of this and even said that he’ll try to change his game to make sure he doesn’t put himself in that type of situation anymore.

Adjustments such as playing more straight up, rather than swiping down at the ball when an opponent drives may be necessary, Woodbury said, who is accustomed to using his length to counterbalance his lack of athleticism.

“That’s a fine line,” he said. “… I’m trying to not let it affect me, but I really hope it doesn’t happen again. I’m doing everything in my power to not let it happen again. Trying to change some things on my defense [to make sure it doesn’t].”

After Woodbury faced the questions he hopes to never answer again, there was a brief moment of silence that was soon interrupted by another question.

“Well, how about a change of topic?” a reporter suggested.

Woodbury laughed, releasing a built-up tension that had filled the room since the line of questioning started, then responded.

“I’d appreciate that.” 

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa basketball team.

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