The Iowa basketball program is trying to take the next step this year after back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances under Fran McCaffery. Unlike football, where Kirk Ferentz entered the season under tremendous scrutiny, McCaffery enters the season in a much more comfortable situation and for the most part viewed at very positively. For that course to continue, he must reach the NCAA tournament yet again and possibly reach the Sweet 16.
They have been within striking distance and that's the benchmark that needs to be checked. Of course, the Hawkeyes' faithful won't complain if they can even outdo those standards.
Post player Adam Woodbury will play a pivotal role now that both Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni have moved on. He was once a decorated recruit, and with it being his senior year in the program, it's his time to shine.
McCaffery explicitly stated in his Media Day presser that Woodbury's minutes would increase and that he would be expected to log 30-36 minutes a contest. That's something the senior has no worries about achieving.
"Who's eyebrows did that raise?," Woodbury questioned when told some media members perked up about the statement made by McCaffery. "Yeah, (it's an uptick in minutes) but I could have played 30 plus last year. I was in good enough spae. It just wasn't asked of me. The biggest thing is that I just have to stay out of foul trouble. That's all I got to do."
"If I'm not in foul trouble, I'm going to play those minutes," he added. "I just have to pick and choose my spots. Last year I didnt have to worry about minutes, I was going to play 20 every night whether it was good or bad. I had the fouls and they didn't roll over. I used them as I could and became physical and set the tone. This year is going to be different and I'm excited for the challenge."
It's almost critical for Woodbury to provide that kind of production with a smaller front line now. They need more positive play out of him and the trust that the coaching staff is putting in him is not lost on him.
"It gives me confidence that coach has faith in me to produce in those 30 plus minutes, now," Woodbury admitted. "It's always fun to have that coach feel that way about you."
There's a lot of minutes to be made up with the losses of Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni but not all of it will be placed on Adam Woodbury's shoulders. Dale Jones is someone that can stretch the floor and freshman forward Ahmad Wagner has the versatility in his game to provide a spark as well. Wagner won't be able to play the five-spot offensively but he should be able to defend it, giving Iowa some options.
"We have some other guys that can step up," Woodbury commented. "It won't be just me. We lost Aaron White, too. We have plenty of other guys that can step up and take that role. We don't need a guy to come in and give 20 minutes but if we have four guys that can give five more minutes than they did last year, we'll make up for it real easy."