IOWA CITY — Freshmen Adam Woodbury and Anthony Clemmons were pivotal for Iowa in a nine-point win against Iowa State two weeks ago.
Woodbury, a 7-foot-1 center, scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds. Point guard Anthony Clemmons directed traffic in his 29 minutes, scoring 14 points and dishing eight assists. But their fortunes changed one week later in an 80-73 win against Northern Iowa.
Clemmons had three fouls, two turnovers and no points in 11 minutes against the Panthers. Woodbury also struggled, scoring just one point with two turnovers and three fouls in nine minutes. It was an inconsistent performance but hardly indicative of they can do for the program, Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said.
“They’re both very resilient individuals,” McCaffery said. “They are very competitive and have a lot of pride. What they have to realize is ... it’s a hard thing because what I’d like to be able to do is allow a young guy to play though his mistakes. But in a game like that that was close, I have other options. I have to go with my other options and find the mix that is playing well.
“They have been very mature and understanding in that aspect and have worked hard in practice the last couple of days. They’re great people in terms of character. I have no doubt they’re going to bounce back.”
Sophomore Aaron White chalks up the freshmen inconsistencies Saturday as learning experiences. After a sizzling start, White fizzled midway through his freshman season. He kept working until he became conditioned enough to make a difference for 40 minutes. He finished his freshman year with 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds a game and a member of the Big Ten’s all-freshman team. White now leads the Hawkeyes in rebounding (6.7 per game) and is second in scoring (13.5).
“I think some of the young guys didn’t really understand how tough it was going to be to play big-time college basketball, maybe,” White said. “I think it’s great to see how much we’re learning, how quickly we’re learning. A player like Anthony Clemmons was getting spot minutes at the beginning of the season depending on the game, 15-16 minutes. Now games like the Iowa State game, he totally dominated and had eight assists.”
The freshman pendulum swung the other way Saturday for guard Mike Gesell, who scored 23 points and earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Gesell struggled offensively against Iowa State, shooting 2-of-10. Against Northern Iowa, Gesell was 6-of-9 with four 3-pointers.
Inconsistency often follows inexperience but it won’t define any of Iowa’s freshmen this year, McCaffery said.
“It is part of it,” McCaffery said. “Obviously, we don’t want it to happen, but it’s sort of inevitable sometimes when you have young guys. True freshmen, it’s amazing what they’ve accomplished so far, and they’ll continue to get better. They didn’t play well; they played against an experienced team. It’s part of the growth process. It’s a matter of how you handle and approach it.
“How do you show up in practice the very next practice? Those guys have worked really hard and really got after it.”