NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa - Iowa's likely starting inside players showed off why they could be quite a tandem during Prime Time League action here on Monday night. Power forward Aaron Fuller and five man Jarryd Cole each led his team to victory with their tenacious play.
Fuller's team claimed a 109-106 win in double overtime with the sophomore-to-be scoring 27 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Cole scored 25 points to go with 15 boards in a 100-81 triumph.
Cole shot 8 of 13 from the floor, which included making both of this 3-point attempts. He continued to show the range of his offensive game that has been a pleasant surprise for Iowa followers this summer.
Fuller knocked down 11 of 17 from the floor, missing his two trey attempts. While his outside shot still showed some flaws, he usually the most active guy on the floor and much stronger than he was as a freshman.
I caught up with each of these guys after Monday's action and below are the transcripts of their interviews. On a side note, Matt Gatens return to action after missing several games following his appendix being removed.
Q: How is this summer going for you?
A: You know, it's been good. I've been in the weight room trying to get stronger, just working on my individual game and just working out.
Q: What parts of your game are you focusing on?
A: Working on my consecutive shooting, my free throws, just getting stronger and going after every rebound.
Q: What do you need to do this year to be successful in the Big Ten?
A: Just keep getting stronger. It's a tough league. It's a lot different than high school. Everybody is strong. I have to keep my quickness while getting stronger and work on my jump shot and free throws.
Q: As an undersized 4, where are the advantages and where are the disadvantages?
A; I feel like if I have a bigger guy on me, I can take him out on the wing. It creates mismatch problems. At the same time, on the defensive end, if they're a lot bigger than me…I feel like I can still hold my own, though.
Q: How is your jump shot coming along?
A: I try to work on it as much as possible in open gym. I'm always staying afterwards. If I'm not doing summer school, I want to be in the gym shooting around.
Q: Do you feel like it‘s improved?
A: I feel like a little bit, but with the lifting and all of that, I feel like have to keep recalibrating, I guess. If I keep working on it this summer, it will get better eventually.
Q; What type of feel is there to this team compared to last year at this time?
A: The incoming freshmen are all great guys, really great players. We all love being around each other. We have that sense of togetherness. We like being with each other on and off the court. I find that really helps on the court. I'm real excited.
Q: Do you feel like there‘s more chemistry with this group than last year‘s team?
A: Yeah, I feel like there's a lot more chemistry. I really connect with Cully (Payne). I feel like on this team we have great chemistry. He's a great passer, a great shooter, a great point guard. I'm excited to see how this team keeps progressing as the summer goes on.
Q: This is a pretty young team. Is there a leadership role expected of you?
A: I try to set examples for the new guys. But I feel like we're all leaders, the people that are still here. There's a lot of leadership that goes around.
Q: What do you guys expect of this season? From the outside, you guys lost four players to transfer and the other teams return a lot.
A: I think we're going to be a lot better. A lot of people think because a lot of people left that we're just going to fall out. But I think we're going to surprise some people. I'm really excited. All these incoming guys, they're really great guys. They're great players. I think it's really going to benefit us as a team.
Q: How has this summer gone for you?
A: Summer has gone well, probably as good as can be expected. But I'm going to continue to try to improve and keep going up. There's no room to put a ceiling over the Hawkeyes. I'm going to do everything I can to keep us going forward.
Q: From what I‘ve seen and I‘ve heard fans saying, it seems your game has expanded, especially on the offensive end. Was that there before the injury and you‘re just getting comfortable again or is this something you‘ve developed over the last few months?
A: It was something that I was trying to get into before the injury. It was spoken of a few times. I'm just trying to do whatever I can to relieve some pressure off of the guards. We're really a guard-oriented team and anything I can do to get the pressure off of them, I'm willing to do it. If that includes expanding my game a little bit, you know, that's what I'm going to do. Spreading it out is going to allow for that.
Q: I‘ve spoken with a lot of athletes that have gone through ACL injuries and many have said that it‘s the second year back when they really feel all the way back. Is that proving true with you?
A: Yeah, I really do. I can honestly say that I'm 100 percent. I'm not saying that my knee still doesn't have it's days. With any surgery that's going to happen. It gets stiff. It gets sore. But all in all, I think I'm 100 percent. When I'm out there performing, I don't think anything of my knee. That's what I had to do, is get mentally back before I'm fully physically back. I think I'm at that point right now.
Q: What‘s the feel around this team? This is the third Iowa team you‘ve been a part of.
A: I think that everybody who is here wants to be here. We like each other. We like being around each other. We all want what is best for each other and we all want what is best for the team. It feels like we're all pulling on the same rope for the same goal. It feels really good. I'm excited for this season coming up. The new guys came in and gelled real nicely with us seven guys. We haven't skipped a beat. So, they're going to be a great addition to the team and I can't wait.
Q: There‘s a good chance there will be low expectations for this team from the outside. How do you as a leader of this team keep that negativity from seeping into the minds of the new guys and even the veterans?
A: You take it as fuel. There are going to be people that pull for you and people that are going to go against you. And that's fine, either way. They don't' know what's going on where we are at. We're not concerned with what they are thinking. We know who we are and what we want to do. We know what we're trying to accomplish. We're not going to allow any outside force dictate or decide what we're going to do. We're going to work hard and we're going to deserve whatever we get. Whatever the outcome is the outcome is, but we're going to earn it, whatever it is. We're going to be proud of it. I think it will be a good thing when it's all said and done.