IOWA CITY, Ia. – After making major waves as a freshman, Melsahn Basabe’s Iowa basketball career has spun in neutral for the past three seasons.
The 6-foot-7 senior forward has shown flashes since making the Big Ten all-freshman team in 2010-11. But consistency has been missing.
“It’s been frustrating, because I haven’t played up to my ability,” Basabe said after recording his 13th career double-double in No. 23 Iowa’s 92-59 <JU>victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “But I have yet to quit. This is obviously going to be the most important year of my career. Because now I’m on a ranked team, playing against top competition. I still have a whole year to finish off strong and leave a good mark.”
Iowa was 11-20 in Basabe’s first season, when he established career highs of 25 points against Michigan and 14 rebounds against Iowa State that still stand. Basabe’s 12 points and 11 rebounds Monday helped the Hawkeyes improve to 10-1 heading into Friday’s game at No. 17 Iowa State.
“It’s a team with a lot of weapons, you can see that,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of the Cyclones. “They’ve got athletes, they’ve got shooters. They can beat you in a lot of ways. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, a great environment. And we’ll be ready.”
A consistent dose of Basabe’s energy and effort would come in handy Friday, and the rest of the season.
“He’s obviously capable,” McCaffery said. “But when he’s playing with energy like that, it makes a big difference for our team.”
Basabe was one of three Hawkeyes to turn in double-doubles against the Knights, now 3-9 overall. Backup center Gabe Olaseni matched a career high with 14 points and added 10 rebounds. Jarrod Uthoff had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The last time an Iowa team had three players post double-doubles in the same game was against Penn State in a double-overtime victory on March 7, 2009. Cyrus Tate had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Jake Kelly 22 points and 11 assists and Jarryd Cole 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The last time Iowa had three players post double-doubles in points and rebounds was against Cal-Irvine on Dec. 29, 1993. Jess Settles had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Jim Bartels 10 points and 12 rebounds and Russ Millard 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Peter Jok chipped in with 11 points and Zach McCabe 10, meaning four of Iowa’s five double-figure scorers came off the bench.
“Not uncommon for our team,” said McCaffery, whose Hawkeyes had a 54-32 rebounding edge. “Zach and Jarrod, for sure. They’re two of our top four scorers. You can see it coming with Gabe. Every game, he seems to get better.”
Basabe’s double-double was his first of the season. He did it six times as a freshman and three times as both a sophomore and junior. He also scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time this season. He had 15 points in Saturday’s 83-66 victory over Drake in the Big Four Classic.
Basabe said he’s had several sit-down talks with McCaffery this season, an attempt by the coach to get the most out of his senior.
“My coaches are confident in me. Everybody is confident in me,” Basabe said. “I don’t consider this a special performance. I just consider it me doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Senior guard Devyn Marble, Iowa’s leading scorer, is Basabe’s closest friend on the team.
“He knows this is his last go-around, and he’s playing with a sense of urgency,” Marble said. “He’s playing with that energy and intensity he was playing with as a freshman. That’s what the coaching staff has asked from him, and that’s what we need from him. Hopefully, he can continue that.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball