Iowa eyes breakout season

Iowa is an exciting team that looks primed for a breakout as Fran McCaffery enters his fourth season in Iowa City. “Obviously, we’re very optimistic about this year’s team,” said McCaffery. “Recognize the position we’re in and welcome the challenge. I’ve not had a team in my entire career that is this deep.

“I think we have to make sure that we’re able to rotate personnel in a way that maximizes our effectiveness. But I think we have a great level of maturity on this team and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Talent abounds for a program that lost in the NIT title game last year and hasn’t been to the Big Dance since 2006 or won a game since 2001. There’s Aaron White, Josh Oglesby, Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, Melsahn Basabe, Zach McCabe, Adam Woodbury and Roy Devyn Marble. Three guys to watch according to McCaffery: White, Gesell and Basabe.

“(White) is our second-leading returning scorer,” said McCaffery. “You would not have looked at him as a defensive presence as a freshman. More of a steals guy who could rebound. But now you’re seeing somebody who really understands the game and can impact the game defensively and offensively. Truly understands how to win. So I think he would be the guy.

“And I think you look at Mike Gesell as well. Incredibly hard worker, can put pressure on the basketball. Can guard a 1 or 2 and can make shots in traffic, can make shots late. I think those two guys, and the next one would be Basabe. What we’ll see with him is a guy who will have his senior year commensurate with what we saw when he was a freshman. Sophomore year wasn’t so good. Last year substantially better. Completely different level of maturity. Physically ready to go. And obviously we’ve seen the incredible talent that he has.”

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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