Anyone who spends time with the Iowa men’s basketball team knows most of the players are naturally funny, at times silly and rarely take themselves too seriously.
That was demonstrated by the Vines put up by Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell last spring. One had Clemmons pushing his face into a sink and scrubbing with “Michael Jackson Face Wash.” When he stood up, it was Gesell’s face. Hilarious.
Well, Gesell and incoming freshman Peter Jok showed their moves last night en route to London. While on a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Jok started dancing. Behind him was Gesell on a moving sidewalk. They should form their own comedy troupe. Here’s that video:
The team arrived in London earlier this morning after an all-night flight. Here’s a sampling of some players and coaches’ tweets upon arrival:
London is very interesting and we haven't started to do anything yet.— Peter jok (@Jok_City) August 12, 2013
Wednesday's game vs the London Lions is sold out at the Copper Box. #Hawkeyes— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) August 12, 2013
Iowa will use multiple combinations in all six games in Europe. Gabe Olaseni, a London native, will get the start and heavy minutes in both games in England. He’ll see less time in France, where the team plays its final four games.
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery wants to explore how players compete with one another based on situations. For instance, how would a zone defense work with Olaseni (6-foot-10), Adam Woodbury (7-foot-1), Jarrod Uthoff (6-9 1/2), Aaron White (6-8) and Devyn Marble (6-6)? Or how does the team react with a smaller lineup, especially with Gesell out with a broken left hand?
“We’ve utilized just about every different combination that you could think of,” McCaffery said. “I wish Mike was able to be in the mix, but he’s in phenomenal condition.”
Iowa regularly played 10 players last year and could have an 11-player rotation this fall. While minutes could become an issue, McCaffery said the team can go uptempo at both ends of the court without worrying the players could become won down.
“I think we can because we’re going to ratchet up the defense,” McCaffery said. “When you’re playing at that level of intensity, you have to come out. Especially when we’re running the ball down to the other end like we do. So we’re playing hard defensively, pushing it down on offense. Nobody complains about coming out when they’re exhausted.”
Although their injuries were not not as a severe as Gesell’s, a pair of outside shooters also had hand issues this summer. Josh Oglesby broke his right pinkie in a May workout, while Jok twice injured his left hand.
“Peter’s hand is getting better,” McCaffery said. “It’s not 100 percent. It’s one of those things where just when it’s getting better, somebody hits it again. Hand and thumb injuries, that’s what happens. But he’s gotten to the point where he’s playing through it.”
Oglesby’s outside shooting has drawn significant interest and will continue to do so until he displays the consistency most expect from the Cedar Rapids Washington graduate. Oglesby, a junior, shot just 26.9 percent from 3-point range last year after knocking down 37.2 percent as a freshman.
“He’s only had one bad day shooting the ball,” McCaffery said. “He’s been on fire and his percentages have been way up. He’s well over 40 percent. He’s had multiple days where he’s made multiple 3s in practice. I think he feels good about himself. He was up to 216 (pounds last year); that’s too much for him. He’s down to 207 and he needs to lose another five.
“He did not struggle as a freshman. I’m fully expecting him to be primed next year and be up around 40 percent.”
Iowa senior Zach McCabe has lost 15 pounds and looks more agile and fluid on the court. He’s a Sioux City native but his ethnicity is largely Irish and Scottish so he’s near to his family’s ancestral home (but with the Irish-Scottish-English ancient rivalries it’s not the same). I did ask him if it was strange that he’ll see some incredible sights, especially in Paris, without his girlfriend. He laughed and said he’ll focus more on basketball.
“Maybe later in life maybe we can do something like that,” he said. “It would be fun to go over there with these guys and play some basketball and play some good teams in competition and just get better as a team.”
Several players have competed internationally and understand it’s a different style of basketball. McCaffery was most concerned with goaltending rules, which allows the glass to keep the ball live, even before it touches the rim.
“We gave them a list of the rules,” McCaffery said. “We’ve been practicing. If you dribble into a double-team, you can’t call timeout. You only have eight seconds to get the ball over the 10-second line. You’re playing with a 24-second clock. Those are some of the major ones.”
McCabe and Jarrod Uthoff have played in Estonia, while Aaron White competed in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
“A lot of guys can play more than one position,” McCabe said. “Guys are more craftier with the basketball moves that they have. It’s just a different game. It’s going to be physical.”
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