IOWA CITY — Iowa freshman Melsahn Basabe at times has played like one of the Big Ten’s up-and-coming superstars. That might make him special in Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery’s eyes, but it won’t keep him off the bench if he’s struggling.
Basabe scored just four points in 20 minutes at Penn State on Wednesday. It ended a string of three straight games with double-digit scoring outputs for Basabe. McCaffery said Basabe struggled defensively, and McCaffery chose to play veteran posts Jarryd Cole and Andrew Brommer in tandem instead.
Basabe played four minutes in the second half.
“You know, I probably should have played him more,” McCaffery said Friday. “I just felt like Brommer was playing so well, and we were struggling offensively. Cole’s typically a really good offensive rebounder in those situations and they were playing more of a matchup in the straight zone.
“I thought the experience might be better suited for the situation we were in. In that respect, I probably should have gone back to him and seen if he could figure it out and let him get that experience. But the game was in the balance there. It was a two-possession game, five minutes to go, and I just went with my experience.”
Basabe is third in scoring for Iowa at 9.9 points a game. He leads in rebounding (6.8 a game) and blocks 28. He averages more than 23 minutes played per game. He has scored at least 20 points three times this season, with his career-best 22 coming against top-ranked Ohio State.
McCaffery admits he blew up at Basabe — and the rest of the Hawkeyes — during a late timeout at Penn State. Basabe said McCaffery’s speeches can be motivating.
“Coach ran is the type of coach he has so much confidence in you and he loves his players,” Basabe said. “I don’t take anything personally. He wants to win, and it motivates me when he speaks that way. I like it.”
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