IOWA CITY — In Iowa’s four Big Ten games, freshman center Adam Woodbury has made just 35 percent of his field goals and has yet to break into double-digit scoring.
These are the growing pains that Iowa coach Fran McCaffery expected.
“He’s just got to concentrate and finish,” McCaffery said. “He’s got to attack the rim. He’s flipping it up there a little bit occasionally and fading away a little bit. Those are common mistakes for a young big guy.”
The 7-1 Sioux City native’s minutes haven’t changed. Woodbury also has his spot in the starting lineup. The Iowa offense isn’t built around him and his defensive presence is there but doesn’t always translate to the box score.
Woodbury isn’t panicking.
“If a couple of them [shots] go down here and there, we’re not even having this conversation,” he said. “So, I’m right there. I’m not missing horribly. A few adjustments, I think I’ll be fine.”
The Big Ten is a tough environment for a freshman center to learn on the job.
So far, Woodbury has seen Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Michigan’s Mitch McGary and the Michigan State duo of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne. The degree of difficulty climbs Saturday night when the Hawkeyes (12-5, 1-3 Big Ten) play host to Wisconsin (13-4, 4-0). The Badgers inside army of Jared Berggren (6-10), Mike Bruesewitz (6-6), Frank Kaminsky (6-11) and Sam Dekkar (6-7) made instrumental contributions to help the Badgers become the B1G’s lone undefeated team with a victory Wednesday at Indiana.
You also have to throw in Ryan Evans, a 6-6 senior guard/forward who scored 13 points and led the Badgers with eight rebounds at IU.
Zeller scored 18 points in the first half and managed just five in the second.
“I love it when you come into a hostile place like this and you fight hard,’’ Bruesewitz told UWBadgers.com. “This was all about grit, toughness — whatever you want to call it — this was what it was all about.’’
So, Iowa’s inside players have a lot coming at them in the Badgers.
“They all have kind of different games — Evans, Berggren, Bruesewitz — they’re all really good and they’re all really experienced but they’re all really different,” McCaffery said. “So you’ve got to understand who does what, how we’re going to play them, and you’ve got to be able to fight the post, you’ve got to be able to play them from the perimeter because they can shoot, they can drive it, all three of them can drive it.”
Iowa counters with Woodbury, Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White. White, Iowa’s second-leading scorer at 13.3 points a game, has been in double figures in three of four Big Ten games. Basabe has come off the bench to hit 10 of 11 from the floor in the last two games.
“I wasn’t aware of that, but I’m glad to know that, though. Thanks for telling me that,” Basabe joked when informed he’s hit 10 of his last 11.
McCaffery said he’s staying positive with Woodbury, who’s working on expanding his repertoire of post moves, and that he’s “performing exactly like we hoped he would.”
“I’m just trying to stay confident,” said Woodbury, who’s third on the Hawkeyes with a .537 field goal percentage. “Obviously, my shots haven’t been falling. Hopefully, that continues to change and gets better.
“It definitely gets frustrating. I don’t want to be missing shots for my team. It’s going to happen. Nobody said this was going to be easy for me.”