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Aaron White speaks up, takes on leadership role

[ 0 ] November 6, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni were roommates at the Hillcrest dormitory as freshmen. Two shy, quiet teenagers, trying to get acclimated to college life.

But once practice started, Olaseni saw White come out of his shell.

“Even as a skinny freshman he was a vocal guy, going back-and-forth with guys like Matt Gatens and Bryce Cartwright,” Olaseni said.

White spoke about his team in critical terms after Sunday’s 87-65 exhibition victory over Augustana of Illinois.

“I think people have the sense that we’ve done something, but we haven’t,” White, now a junior, said after the game. “This team hasn’t won anything. We’ve got to prove, on the floor, what people are saying about us.”

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery gave his team the same message after the game, saying they had been “substantially outplayed” by Augustana. McCaffery repeated his message before practice Tuesday.

“Some guys’ heads weren’t in the game,” Olaseni said. “It was just a learning experience. I’m just glad it didn’t happen in Friday when it really counts.”

Iowa opens a season of high expectations against North Carolina-Wilmington Friday at 8:30 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. McCaffery said his team has responded to his criticism.

“They realized what I was saying and tried to effect change,” McCaffery said. “That’s what you want to see. You want to see improvement as an understanding of what’s expected. In particular from some of the individuals, I think (Devyn) Marble has really been good and (Melsahn) Basabe has really been good.”

McCaffery said the fact that White spoke up after Sunday’s game is a sign of his developing leadership.

“And I appreciate that,” McCaffery said. “And that’s what our team needs. I can’t be the only one that says that, I guess is the point. Somebody in the locker room has to say it.”

McCaffery said he wasn’t surprised that White stepped up and spoke his mind.

“You can do a lot of speaking in the locker room, but it better come from somebody who knows what they’re talking about and has the credibility to say it,” McCaffery said.

White, from Strongsville, Ohio, and Olaseni, from London, England, are still roommates. Olaseni said that White’s leadership skills are a reflection of his playing time at Iowa – he’s logged 1,934 minutes in 73 career games – and the experience he gained while playing for the United States in the World University Games over the summer.

“It’s starting to come out more because he’s an upperclassman,” Olaseni said.

Clemmons update. Iowa sophomore point guard Anthony Clemmons, who missed Sunday’s exhibition game with a sprained ankle, has returned to practice and will be in the rotation for Friday’s season opener.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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