Kyle Lindsted thought seriously about attending the Iowa men’s basketball team’s game against Illinois on Tuesday before finally deciding against it.
He even considered taking two days off work and paying $500 for a flight from his home in Wichita, Kan., in order to attend the game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Lindsted now wishes he had considering what his former player Gabe Olaseni accomplished during Iowa’s 63-55 victory over Illinois.
The 6-foot-10 Olaseni had seven of Iowa’s school-record 13 blocks against Illinois. He had only blocked five shots in the previous 16 Big Ten games this season.
“I almost took the day off work and drove from Wichita to Iowa yesterday,” Lindsted said Wednesday afternoon. “And then when I didn’t do that, I went home for lunch and I thought, `you know what, maybe I should just fly up there. And, no laugh, I checked the price of the airfare tickets and it was like 500 bucks and it would have cost me two days of work.
“So I said, nah, it’s just too much, there is too much involved. But had I known, I would have definitely been there. I just wanted to get there and surprise him. I’ve never been to one of his games and I’ve been to a lot of my other players’ games.”
Lindsted is the head coach at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan. Lindsted coached Olaseni at Sunrise Christian Academy and helped turn him into a Division I prospect.
Olaseni grew up in London, England and was sort of new to the game when he and Lindsted joined forces in high school. Olaseni became a defensive standout at Sunrise Christian Academy, helping lead the school to the National Association of Christian Athletes Division I national title as a senior in 2011.
“Gabe really wants to be a good player and that’s just hard to put a price on,” Lindsted said. “He’s physically capable and he really wants to be a great player. So he’s worked very hard for that.”
Much like in high school, Olaseni’s game is more advance on defense right now. His length, his quickness and his ability to block shots are helping to make him a force around the rim.
“If his offensive game continues to improve, we always knew that was going to be a project,” Lindsted said. “But he can defend and rebound at a high level. If he continues to work on his game offensively, I think that will translate.”
Depth and defense have been two strengths for Iowa throughout a season in which the team has shot poorly from the field. Olaseni and his cohorts will close out the regular season against Nebraska Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa improved to 19-11 overall and 8-9 in the Big Ten by defeating Illinois, and did so despite shooting just 28 percent from the field in the second half.
“Our defense in both halves was what it needed to be for us to win,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.
Olaseni’s presence near the basket was a big reason why Iowa prevailed. He made it hard for the Illinois players to get clear looks on drives to the basket.
Olaseni hasn’t started a game for Iowa. But his defense is earning him more playing time, including 19 minutes against Illinois.
“Fortunately, we had Gabe back there tonight,” McCaffery said after the game. “He was sort of taking care of business for us.”
Lindsted said he and Olaseni talk on a regular basis. Lindsted can tell that Olaseni is happy playing for McCaffery and with his life as a UI student-athlete just by how enthusiastically Olaseni talks about his experiences.
Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis deserves much of the credit for that.
“He talks all the time about how much coach Francis does for him as far as taking him under his wing and just spending the extra time with him whether it be watching film or whether it be getting extra shots up,” Lindsted said. “I know coach Francis has done a lot for his development.”
Olaseni was initially credited with having six of Iowa’s 12 blocks against Illinois. However, upon further review it was discovered that one of his blocks had been overlooked. He is now credited with having seven blocks and the 13 blocks as a team set a new school and arena record.
And to think, Lindsted could’ve been there in person to see it.
Making matter worse is that he even forgot to tape the game, which he usually does if he can’t watch it live.
“Last night I missed it because we were in the gym practicing,” Lindsted said. “I even forgot to record it.”
Lindsted said he remembered to tape the replay of the game, which was shown on the Big Ten Network several hours after the live telecast.
“So I should be able to watch it tonight when I go home,” Lindsted said. “But I talked to Gabe last night.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball