IOWA CITY — Iowa blasted 11 dunks in its 80-50 pasting of Coppin State in their non-conference finale Saturday. But the ambiguous method of determining a dunk champion depends on your perspective.
Is it volume? Iowa sophomore Aaron White had six dunks en route to a game-high 20 points. Is it the instant reaction? Senior Eric May rocketed from just inside the free-throw line to throw one down and send the arena in a frenzy. Is the dunker’s reaction? The normally modest sophomore Gabe Olaseni threw his hands in the air and stared at teammate Melsahn Basabe on the bench after the second of his three dunks.
Or is it the lead-in? Sophomore Josh Oglesby threw a full-court pass to White for a breakaway dunk. Walk-on Chris Rickert hit Olaseni wide open underneath for a late-game exclamation point.
Let’s start the dialogue with White. Who would have won a dunk contest?
“Gabe would have won,” White said. “His actions after the dunk were hilarious.”
What about May’s dunk?
“I forgot about Eric’s. That was good, too. A lot of good dunks. A lot of good plays.”
What about Olaseni think?
“I’ll give it to May, easily. It was pretty nice.”
What was May’s reaction?
“I have to see it again, but there’s a lot of highlights tonight, dunking wise.”
May’s dunk was the most authoritative. With just under 12 minutes remaining, May took the ball from outside the 3-point line, dribbled once and glided toward the hoop. He slammed it on top of Coppin State’s Andrew Armstrong, who drew a foul. May chest-bumped his teammates on the floor, then red-shirt Kyle Meyer and transfer Jarrod Uthoff on the bench. Coach Fran McCaffery folded his arms and smiled.
“I knew Coach would like that, dunking on somebody’s head,” May said. “That’s what he always talks about. I knew he’d love it.”
Of White’s dunks, the most impressive collectively was midway through second half. Oglesby inbounded the ball just right of Coppin State’s basket after Coppin State’s Michael Murray committed an offensive foul. Oglesby launched a pass flat-footed that caught White in stride near Iowa’s free-throw line, past Murray. White slammed it, was fouled and completed a three-point play to put Iowa (11-2) up 53-26.
“(Murray) was kind of flustered after he got an offensive foul,” White said. “He wasn’t really paying attention. It was a good pass by Josh.”
Oglesby resisted the urge to play quarterback at Cedar Rapids Washington in high school. With that toss Saturday, a few of his curent teammates offered that suggestion as well.
“I’ve heard that a couple of times,” Oglesby said. “If he’s open, coach emphasizes on throwing that.”
Anthony Clemmons dished to Olaseni under the basket for a power slam with 4:47 left. Olaseni glanced at Basabe on the bench and smiled.
“My team was just telling me I never react whenever I do anything,” Olaseni said. “I just looked at him to know he got into my head, and he likes when I give him feedback.”
Late in the game, Chris Rickert found open Olaseni open under the basket, and Olaseni powered it down for the game’s final bucket.
“The best alley oop pass we’ve had all season was thrown by Chris,” McCaffery said. “Good for him. Good for Gabe. The crowd loved it. But I would have preferred that we not make that play in that situation.”
Iowa now has 11 non-conference wins, the most since 2004-05. For May, the team’s 11 dunks were a bonus.
“We were all over the rim,” May said. “It was fun.”