Adhering to family values is part of the reason Adam Woodbury will be competing against Iowa State on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“All my family has been Iowa fans and I just stayed in line,” Woodbury said Thursday before practice. “I think that’s how most kids grow up unless they want to be rebels and go against who their family roots for. But I just kind of fell in line.”
Woodbury also grew into a talented 7-foot-1 center and is now among three freshmen who will start for Iowa (7-2) against the 6-2 Cyclones on Friday.
The others are point guard Anthony Clemmons and combo guard Mike Gesell.
Woodbury will be matched against a deep and talented Iowa State frontline that excels at rebounding. The Cyclones have outrebounded every opponent this season and they lead the Big 12 Conference in rebounding margin at 11.6.
Iowa, on the other hand, was out-rebounded in its two losses this season against Wichita State and Virginia Tech.
“I try not to look at it as a personal challenge,” Woodbury said. “Obviously, there is going to be one. I want to go out there and play a phenomenal game. But if it doesn’t happen and we still get the win, that’s more important for us.
“But it’s going to be exciting. They’ve got a great frontline. They’re pretty deep. They’ve got guys coming off the bench that rebound really well. It’s a big test for us, and individually as well. I’m going to see where I stand.”
There never was much doubt where Woodbury stood with regard to the Hawkeyes. He simply followed the example of his family, especially his father, whom Woodbury described as an avid Hawkeye fan.
Woodbury fired off a quick one-word answer when asked Thursday if he ever owned any Iowa State apparel as a kid growing up in Sioux City.
“Never,” he said.
Woodbury said his situation was more a case of him being raised to support the Hawkeyes rather than to cheer against the Cyclones.
“I wasn’t anti-Iowa State, but I was a Big Ten guy, and obviously, I loved the Hawkeyes,” Woodbury said. “I rooted for them whenever I could. I had a lot of Iowa fans in Sioux City. I don’t know if the western side is really considered Iowa State country. There are a lot of Nebraska fans, but the Iowa fans are pretty thick over there, too.”
Woodbury showed his love for the Hawkeyes when he turned down a host of scholarship offers to play for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. Woodbury’s final two choices were Iowa and North Carolina.
Iowa State was a factor early in the recruiting process, but then things cooled when Fred Hoiberg replaced Greg McDermott as the Iowa State head coach before Woodbury’s junior year at Sioux City East High School.
“I went and listened to Hoiberg,” Woodbury said. “And then after a while, they stopped recruiting me.
“I don’t think they thought they had a chance. They just stopped calling me and everything. But I’ve got a lot of respect for coach Hoiberg.”
Woodbury was asked Thursday if Iowa State would’ve had a better chance of landing him if McDermott had stayed as the head coach.
“I can’t say that,” said Woodbury, who was ranked among the top 50 players nationally in the 2012 senior class by most scouting services. “I don’t know. I love coach McCaffery and his system. This is the best fit for me.”
Woodbury and Gesell have started every game for Iowa this season. Clemmons has started the last two games, with Gesell moving from point guard to shooting guard.
McCaffery said he won’t change his approach with his three freshmen starters just because it’s a instate rivalry game.
“I don’t typically get into those aspects of competition,” McCaffery said. “That’s just not my style. What I try to do is focus on what we have to do individually, what we have to do collectively? What are the four or five things that are going to be absolutely critical that we do to win this game?”
Clemmons will be matched against fifth-year senior point guard Korie Lucious, who played his first three seasons at Michigan State before transferring to Iowa State. Clemmons grew up in Lansing, Mich., near the Michigan State campus, but he doesn’t know Lucious personally.
Clemmons was only a freshman in high school when Lucious enrolled at Michigan State. Clemmons assumes that Lucious will try to exploit his lack of experience during Friday’s game.
“When you have experience like Lucious does there is really not much you can do,” Clemmons said. “He’s a senior. He’s been to the Final Four and to many NCAA Tournaments.
“He’s using his experience and I’ve just got to go with how I know how to play. My job is to play good solid defense on him and keep him out of his rhythm.”
Friday’s game will be a reunion of sorts for Clemmons and for several other players from both teams with ties to the state of Michigan. Iowa junior guard Devyn Marble grew up in Michigan, as did Iowa State players Will Clyburn and Percy Gibson.
“I’m pretty familiar with the guys there,” Clemmons said. “We’re still friends at the end of the day. But once you step on the court, there are no friends around.”
Iowa State has won the last three games against Iowa, but Iowa has won three of the last four games played against the Cyclones at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball