IOWA CITY, Ia. – No one has questioned Adam Woodbury’s toughness on a basketball court.
“My brother (Aaron) used to kick my butt every day,” Woodbury said. “He got it in my mind just to be tough out there. If you’re intimidated on the court, you’re in a lot of trouble.”
Woodbury’s freshman season at Iowa has been humbling and encouraging at the same time. But his 7-foot-1 frame still matches his big-picture future.
“You think that somebody who’s got that kind of ability and gets recruited heavily is going to come in and make that huge impact,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter, who brings his team to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. game against Iowa.
Woodbury was a Top 50 national recruit by most scouting services out of Sioux City East High School. He picked the Hawkeyes over North Carolina and had a long list of suitors. Yet in 14 Big Ten games, Woodbury has scored 44 points and committed 40 personal fouls. He’s averaging just 4.8 points and 5.1 rebounds a game overall.
“He’s done a solid job for them, but he hasn’t made a huge impact,” Painter said. “Now he gets that experience and then he can take off and have a great offseason. He’ll start to understand what he needs to do to be a productive player, an all-conference type player. Because I think Woodbury can be an all-conference type player.”
Fans might have expected more out of Woodbury this season, at least on the offensive end. But sophisticated scouting reports, and his struggles to score over the big, strong post presence most Big Ten teams have, has been challenging.
“I averaged 17 points a game for the last three years of my (high school) career,” Woodbury said. “And for it to go down to what it is now, it’s obviously changed my game.”
Woodbury fouls too much, reaching at times and getting too physical in others. He is averaging 4.9 rebounds a game in Big Ten play in just 14.9 minutes.
“If I played him a ton of minutes and he stayed out of foul trouble, he would lead the league in rebounding,” iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I think he’s put a lot of pressure on himself to be a scorer. He’s going to affect the game with his defense, rebounding and running more than anything else.”
Woodbury is Iowa’s first Top 100 post recruit since Jared Reiner, who averaged 3.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 13.3 minutes a game as a freshman in 2000-01. Reiner increased that to 9.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 27.1 minutes his junior season.
“It’s very difficult to be productive across the line as a true post,” Painter said. “Just learning how hard you have to play, learning how to get position, and then just being consistent on a daily basis.”
Iowa and Purdue both have 6-8 Big Ten records. And both are making an investment in the future this season. McCaffery has three freshmen — Woodbury, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons — averaging at least 15 minutes a game with 67 combined starts.
Three of Painter’s top six scorers — center A.J. Hammons, guard Ronnie Johnson and forward Rapheal Davis — are all averaging at least 17 minutes with 53 combined starts as freshmen.
“You need experience,” McCaffery said. “It’s great if you have a one-and-done guy who’s so good that you just go to him and ride him. But the more guys you have that have been through the wars in this league, have been able to be in a position where they made a mistake, missed a shot, they’re not afraid to come down, take that shot and make it, that’s just part of it.”
Woodbury has taken his lumps this season, much like those delivered by a brother who is seven inches shorter and 17 months older than him.
“I feel like I’m growing each and every day,” Woodbury said. “I’m just trying to work hard and get better. It hasn’t always been easy. But I knew coming into this that it wasn’t going to be. It takes a lot of hard work, and I’m willing to do it.”
WHO: Purdue (13-14, 6-8 Big Ten) at Iowa (17-10, 6-8 Big Ten).
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City.
TIPOFF: 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $22 adults, $10 youth (18-under) and UI students.
TELEVISION: Big Ten Network.
RADIO: WHO-AM (1040) and Hawkeye Radio Network.
STAT LEADERS: For Purdue – Terone Johnson 13.2 ppg; A.J. Hammons 6,4 rpg; Ronnie Johnson 3.7 apg; for Iowa – Devyn Marble 13.8 ppg; Aaron White 6.1 rpg; Anthony Clemmons 3.4 apg.
ABOUT THE BOILERMAKERS: Purdue has won 11 of the last 12 games in the series. The lone exception was Iowa’s 67-65 home victory over the sixth-ranked Boilermakers in the final regular-season game of the 2010-11 season.
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: After scoring a total of two points in road losses at Minnesota and Wisconsin, Devyn Marble has averaged 19 points over the last four games. He needs 61 points to reach 1,000 for his career. His father, Roy, is Iowa’s career scoring leader with 2,116 points.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Purdue has turned it over at least 14 times in each of its last four games, which might play right into Iowa’s transition game.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball