Iowa center Adam Woodbury lost his Prime Time League playoff game Sunday, but he earned a victory at the free-throw line that he hopes is a sign of things to come.
The 7-foot-1 Woodbury made all five of his free-throw attempts and scored 27 points during his team’s 90-85 loss before a capacity crowd at the North Liberty Community Center.
Woodbury and his Iowa Hawkeye teammate, Aaron White, both started a school-record 38 games last season, but Woodbury often didn’t finish games because of his inability to make free throws. It bothered Woodbury to be on the bench with the game on the line. But he only had himself to blame for it.
“That was a big key last year,” said Woodbury, who only shot 51 percent (26-of-51) from the free-throw line last season. “I didn’t play down the stretch that much. I’m trying to be able to play longer and play some more minutes.”
Woodbury struggled at times last season with his adjustment to college basketball, but he always played with energy and with passion. He also gave Iowa a dimension that most other teams didn’t have with his height and with his ability to run the floor.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery showed his faith in Woodbury by keeping him in the starting lineup throughout the season. It ultimately paid dividends, considering Iowa won 25 games last season and finished runner-up to Baylor in the National Invitation Tournament.
“It means that coach McCaffery had a lot of confidence by starting me right away, and I was fortunate enough to keep my starting spot the entire year,” Woodbury said. “It was a long season, and I was fortunate enough to stay healthy as well.
“He has confidence in me. And that only makes me have more confidence in myself.”
In addition to his free-throw shooting, Woodbury has spent the summer working on his post moves with an emphasis on attacking the basket and expanding his shooting range.
“I’m more explosive,” Woodbury said. “I’m stronger around the rim. I’m able to step out further on my jump shot. Hopefully, that’s a key to my success this year. I’m just trying to improve my game all-around.”
Woodbury credits Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis for helping to expand his game.
“I work with coach Francis a lot,” said Woodbury, who averaged 4.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season. “He’s been a great key to my success; just repetition and going back and forth with him. He’s teaching me things I didn’t know, and I’m just trying to absorb it all.”
Iowa senior-to-be guard Devyn Marble has noticed a change in Woodbury’s game since this time last year.
“He’s just more assertive, more aggressive and more confident and making quick moves,” Marble said. “I told him that he has to start making quick moves and he’s doing that.”
Marble’s team was responsible for eliminating Woodbury’s team from the PTL playoff Sunday. Marble only made 1-of-9 3-point baskets, but he compensated by making all nine of his free throws and 7-of-12 shots from inside the 3-point arc while scoring 26 points.
Marble said he was determined not to let Woodbury have bragging rights after Sunday’s game.
“I want to be one up on Wood. I don’t want Wood to be one up on me,” Marble said. “Then I can talk trash to him. There is definitely a competitive factor in there.”
Woodbury’s team was depleted Sunday with incoming Iowa guard Peter Jok missing the game because of an injury to a knuckle on his left hand. Jok said the injury wasn’t serious and that he was kept out of the game only as a precautionary measure.
Former Iowa point guard Jason Price also missed Sunday’s PTL game, leaving Woodbury’s team with just seven players.
Woodbury’s next challenge is preparing for a six-game tour of England and France as part of the Iowa basketball team. The first two games will be played Aug. 13-14 in London.
“The season starts right now,” Woodbury said after Sunday’s PTL loss. “We’ve got to get ready. We’re going to play great teams over there. So we’ve got to get tuned up. It’ll be a great experience for all of us and great competition.”
Woodbury attended Sioux City East High School and was ranked among the top 50 players in the 2012 high school senior class by virtually every recruiting service.
But he still was inexperienced at this time last year. That’s no longer the case with 38 starts under his belt. Woodbury’s presence in the post is one of many reasons why Iowa is expected to end its NCAA Tournament drought this coming season. Iowa hasn’t competed in the NCAA Tournament since 2006.
“The knowledge that I have compared to last year at this time is tremendous,” Woodbury said. “I consider that to be because of the coaches. They’ve helped me through with the process and all my teammates. And I feel way more prepared this year than I was last year.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball