Oct. 13, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — For Melsahn Basabe, many point to Iowa’s home game against No. 2 Ohio State last season as the game `the light went on.’ Perhaps for good reason. He became the first Big Ten player in over 15 years to post at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a game when he was credited with 22 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks against the Buckeyes.
Thursday afternoon inside newly-renovated Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the lights were shining on Basabe.
The Glen Cove, N.Y., native talked with reporters at length during Iowa Basketball Media Day, displaying the attitude that helped him have a standout freshman campaign.
The lights are shining brighter on Basabe this year after a rookie season where he became the only Hawkeye freshmen to ever amass over 340 points, 200 rebounds and 40 blocks and first Iowa player to accomplish the feat since Ryan Bowen in 1997-98.
He is a known commodity entering 2011-12, but the brighter lights do not faze him.
“I always expect something out of myself,” said Basabe. “The same people who have all these expectations for me this year, had none for me last year; but I had my own expectations. I worry about my attitude and how I approach things. I let the rest handle itself.”
The rest worked out fine in 2010-11. Basabe was named to the Big Ten Conference all-Freshman team and was an all-conference honorable mention honoree by the media and coaches.
He tallied 210 rebounds, the most ever for an Iowa rookie. The former St. Mark’s High School standout scored in double figures 17 times. He became the first Hawkeye to score at least 20 points in at least five Big Ten games since Adam Haluska accomplished the feat in 2004-05 and was one of only four freshmen in the country to have four or more 20-point, 10-rebound outbursts.
“Basabe established himself last year as one of the premiere players in our league,” said head coach Fran McCaffery. “I think that you have to take that next step, now that he recognizes that he’s somebody that we are going to go to.
“He’s a player that I think is capable of averaging a double double, which would be a big jump and he’s got to go from seven to ten rebounds a game.”
“That is what I expect from myself,” said Basabe on recording double-doubles. “Like I said, just maximizing, playing hard the entire game. I do not want to put a cap on it. If I can get 30 and 10, or 60 percent shooting, then that is what I will get. I am going to take everything I can get.
“I focus on getting better, and I have to keep the same attitude I had last year.” Basabe and the team have a specific goal this year.
“The NCAA Tournament is the goal for this team this year,” said Basabe. “To achieve that we have to win big games, win on the road, and defend as a team. The NCAA Tournament is the ultimate goal.”
The 6-foot-7 forward is focusing on making improvements, and will be a key component if the team is to reach its goal.
“I still do not feel like I have scratched the surface,” said Basabe. “I have a lot of improvements I want to make. There is so much more that I can do. That is what I am looking forward to this year.”
Iowa opponents better take notice, the light is getting brighter.