Nov. 2, 2011
- Purchase Iowa Men’s Basketball Tickets
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Take the Hawkeyes With You: Iowa Podcasts
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Gabriel Olaseni and the University of Iowa men’s basketball team won’t tip-off against Ohio State and its all-everything All-American sophomore Jared Sullinger until Jan. 7, 2012. That’s game No. 17 for the Hawkeyes, but it was one of the first questions Olaseni fielded Wednesday during a Q&A with media inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I wouldn’t say I’m ready; I’m on my way to getting ready,” Olesani said of tangling with the 6-foot-8 Buckeye forward. “It’s going to be a team effort when we play guys like him. We’re definitely up for the challenge.”
Olaseni is one of three Hawkeye freshman newcomers, joining guard Josh Oglesby and forward Aaron White. At 6-10, 225 pounds, Olaseni balances the group as a post. All three have made heads turn in practice.
“All those guys are going to be able to contribute and play big minutes for us,” senior Matt Gatens said. “They all bring something different to the table. Josh is an incredible shooter, Gabe with his size and running ability and Aaron’s a versatile forward who can handle (the ball) and cause match-up problems. We’re expecting big things out of them.”
Olaseni, of Bel Aire, Kan., via London, averaged 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.2 blocks in 28 games last season at Sunrise Christian Academy. He shot 72 percent from the field and led his team to the National Association of Christian Athletes Division I national title. He was named defensive most valuable player of the tournament.
“Gabe is blocking everything and giving us energy,” senior Bryce Cartwright said. “I told him to be ready and out-work whoever he’s playing. When you’re young, you look for any opportunity to get on the court. He’s a high-energy player who always has his motor running He’s been out-running people down the court and if he can do that for however minutes he’s in, then that will be a big plus for us.”
The work Olaseni put in during the summer in the weight room and playing in the Prime Time League is paying off. He said many people thought that as somewhat of a project, he would be behind when preseason practices began. He is proving them wrong.
“I try to get every rebound out there,” Olaseni said. “That’s pretty-much my job — fighting guys like (Andrew) Brommer, (Devon) Archie and Mel(sahn Basabe) is going to help me a lot. I’m concentrating on keeping balls a live and getting extra possession for the team.”
One aspect of his game that took some adjustment was the physical play.
“Sometimes I think guys are trying to tackle me out there,” Olaseni said.
The Hawkeyes host an exhibition game Sunday against Northwest Missouri State beginning at 3:30 p.m. (CT). The first regular-season game is Friday, Nov. 11, against Chicago State. Olaseni senses the excitement around campus and in the community.
“People in my classes have been coming up to me, asking if I’m ready for the season and if we’re going to get more wins this year,” Olaseni said. “Obviously I answered yes. People are getting pretty excited and they have reason to be.”
Even if the game against Sullinger is still two months away.