Basabe Looks for a Bounce Back

Oct. 12, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Junior Melsahn Basabe is looking for a bounce back 2012-13 season with the University of Iowa men’s basketball program… and then some.

After averaging 11 points and 6.8 rebounds as a freshman en route to honorable mention All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Freshman team honors, Basabe’s numbers dipped as a sophomore. The forward lost his starting job midway through the season, and averaged 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game.

Basabe isn’t looking to regain his freshman form… he wants to exceed it.

“I don’t want to return to any form,” said Basabe at Thursday’s Iowa basketball media day. “I want to be the best player that I can be at this point in my career. I should be better. I am more experienced, have more knowledge, been lifting longer and been working on my game for two years.”

Coming off his freshman season, Basabe said his mindset wasn’t where it needed to be for him to build on his laurels.

“I don’t think I was focused enough,” said Basabe of his mental approach following the 2010-11 season. “I worked hard when the coaches were around when they asked me to do stuff, but I don’t think I was hard enough on myself when nobody was around.”

“I expect to return to the determination I played with my freshman year, except to another level… because I am running out of time.”

Basabe used the 2011-12 season as motivation and went full steam ahead during offseason workouts.

“I stayed consistent and worked on my own and with the coaches and had the attitude I needed to improve each day,” he said. “I have to go back to who I am.

“Last year I got too relaxed. Who I am is a determined player who works hard and beats people by being more determined, even if they are more talented than me. That’s what I am getting back to.”

After bulking up 15 pounds to 235 following his freshman season to handle the rigors of the Big Ten schedule, Basabe is back to his freshman playing weight (221 pounds), but in even better physical shape.

“I feel like I trained better this offseason and worked on my quickness,” said Basabe. “I always kept in mind my conditioning because I didn’t want a repeat of last year. I’ve been practicing and working out harder.”

“He’s in the best shape of his life,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “He’s playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. I want to see him play with the kind of reckless abandon we saw more of when he was a freshman than we saw last year.”

While he didn’t live up to his expectations, Basabe’s sophomore season wasn’t a wash. He was second on the team in rebounding (4.8), while leading the team in blocked shots (36) and shooting 52.4 percent from the floor. He scored in double figures in 13 games and posted three double-doubles.

“Everybody looks and says he had a subpar sophomore season,” said McCaffery. “He had great games for us as a sophomore, he just didn’t do it consistently. For him, the key is going to be consistency.”

Basabe is looking to take the next step and help the Hawkeyes climb the Big Ten ladder in the process.

“I expect to return to the determination I played with my freshman year, except to another level… because I am running out of time,” he said.

The UI men’s and women’s basketball teams will hold the 2012 Black & Gold Blowout on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Oct. 19, beginning at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the UI Athletics Ticket Office.