After playing an average of 10.7 minutes per game as a sophomore, Iowa’s Gabe Olaseni earned an increase in minutes in 2013-14. Olaseni played 16.7 minutes per game last season, posting averages of 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game on a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Obviously the goal for most players in the offseason is to improve enough to warrant more opportunities, and that’s the case for Olaseni.
However there’s a bit of a road block in front of the rising senior on the form of starting center Adam Woodbury, and in a story written by Don Doxsie of the Quad-City Times moving to the power forward spot may be Olaseni’s best route to more playing time. But with that desire comes the need to show he’s capable of handling the responsibilities that may differ from one position to the other, and that’s something Olaseni’s aims to do this summer.
That would be another first. Olaseni never has played a second at any position other than center in a game at any level, but he’s excited at the prospect of being a four instead of a five.
“I think I can definitely play the four,” he said following a game in the Prime Time summer league. “I know I can guard fours. I just need to show offensively that I can space the floor and hit the mid-range shot, stuff like that.”
With Roy Devyn Marble and Melsahn Basabe having graduated there are two openings in the Iowa starting lineup, with Woodbury, point guard Mike Gesell and forward Aaron White being the incumbents. Who slides into those open roles? Olaseni may be one option in the front court, but also to be considered is junior forward Jarrod Uthoff.
In his first season as a Hawkeye, Uthoff provided 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game off the bench and from an offensive standpoint may be the best bet for that forward position especially when considering the loss of their leading scorer (Marble). The good thing for Iowa is that they have depth, as ten players averaged double figures in minutes last season and seven of those players will return in 2014-15.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.