MADISON, Wis. — As Iowa’s basketball pep band belted out “In Heaven There Is No Beer,” and fans celebrated the Hawkeyes’ 70-66 victory over Wisconsin on Jan. 19, the players lined up for their traditional post-game handshake.
Iowa’s Aaron White, who had scored 17 points, was at the end of the line. When White got to Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, the two shook hands. Then Ryan pulled White back, not once but twice, for a brief conversation.
“He said I reminded him of Chris Street,” White said. “And he said he recruited a kid from Brecksville, Ohio, which is right by my home town (Strongsville). He was joking around, saying he should have recruited me, and how good of a player I’ve developed into.
“I think I made something like 15 free throws, and he said, ‘Way to knock down your free throws.’ A big compliment from a guy like that. A guy who is one of the biggest names in our league and college basketball.”
White and Ryan will meet again at the Kohl Center Wednesday when Iowa visits Wisconsin for an 8 p.m. Big Ten game. White, and the Hawkeyes, have had Wisconsin’s number of late.
Iowa has won three straight in the series for the first time since a stretch between the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. Iowa’s third straight came two months after Street, a junior Hawkeye standout, died in an automobile accident on Jan. 19, 1993.
“I had watched him work out,” said Ryan, who was the head coach at Wisconsin-Platteville when Street died. “It was just a shame
that he was taken so soon. I thought he had a career in front of him that would have lasted for a long time.”
Many have compared White’s game to Street’s. Iowa’s third straight victory in the series last month came on the 20th anniversary of Street’s death. White’s 17 points included 13-of-15 shooting from the free-throw line and seven rebounds.
White, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, scored 18 points in his first career Big Ten road game, a 72-65 victory over the 11th-ranked Badgers on Dec. 31, 2011. He scored 12 points when Iowa defeated the 16th-ranked Badgers in Iowa City last season, 67-66.
“He can do a lot of things,” Ryan said of White. “He’s rangy. He creates offense from defense with his deflections. He’s a rhythm shooter, boy. When he starts hitting those jumpers, whether they’re threes or twos, he has a very good stroke. And he’s a good passer. Just a good all-around player.”
Ryan was an assistant coach at Wisconsin in the early 1980s when he recruited Scott Roth out of Brecksville, Ohio. Roth had a solid career at Wisconsin, and played four NBA seasons. He’s now an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery found White in Strongsville, Ohio, just 15 miles west of Brecksville. The Hawkeyes were the only Big Ten school to offer White a scholarship.
“I don’t take satisfaction in that aspect of it,” McCaffery said. “I take satisfaction in the aspect of I know Aaron White and I know what kind of person he is and how hard he works. And I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of the fact that he’s succeeding.”
White is Iowa’s leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 13.9 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Iowa has scored at least 70 points against the Badgers, traditionally one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten, in two of the last three meetings. No other Big Ten team can make that claim. And White has played an instrumental role in all three victories.
“It could be a matchup thing, it could be a style of play thing,” McCaffery said when asked why White had success against Wisconsin. “It could be coincidence. I never really thought about it, to be honest. I look at him and say, 'Boy, he plays well against pretty much everybody.’ I see a guy who is pretty consistent in terms of his performance.”
WEDNESDAY'S IOWA MEN'S GAME
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
Tipoff: 8 p.m.
Television: Big Ten Network
Radio: WHO-AM (1040) and Hawkeye Radio Network
About the Hawkeyes: Iowa will be trying to beat Wisconsin for a fourth consecutive time. It hasn’t happened since Iowa ran off six straight between 1986 to 1989.
About the Badgers: Forward Frank Kaminsky, who didn’t play in a 70-66 loss to Iowa Jan. 19 because of an eye injury, scored a career-high 19 points in Sunday’s 74-68 victory at Illinois.
What to watch for: In the six games he has played since injuring his left ankle and left toe in practice last month, Iowa’s Devyn Marble has made just 15-of-50 field-goal attempts. That includes 3-of-18 shooting from 3.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball