Oct. 2, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior Aaron White isn’t sure what year Jarrod Uthoff is in terms of class standing with the University of Iowa men’s basketball team, but he’s certain Uthoff is ready to have a bigger role with the 2014-15 Hawkeyes.
“I am looking forward to him stepping up and I know he is too,” said White. “He’s a tough match-up. Do you put a small guy on him? Then he shoots over them. Do you put a bigger guy on him? Then he goes by them. It is going to be interesting to see.”
Uthoff is entering his fourth season as a college student-athlete, but this season — his redshirt junior season — will be just Uthoff’s second year of game action. He redshirted as a freshman at Wisconsin, transferred to the UI in the summer of 2012 and was forced to sit out the 2012-13 season.
“He has been around, but he still only has played one year,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “I don’t think it has been easy, sitting out two years and then playing half the game. For him getting extended playing time and getting more comfortable, you’ll see him play completely different.”
McCaffery expects Uthoff to step into the starting lineup at the small forward position, and he’s versatile to slide down to power forward. Regardless where he plays, Uthoff is entering the season with a scoring mentality, one that he struggled with in his first as a Hawkeye.
“My first thought this year has to be, `Do I have an open shot?'” he said.
“I have enough confidence in his ability to shoot that I want him to shoot the ball every time he’s open. If you’re open, shoot the ball, you’ve got the green light. He has the potential to be a 50 percent shooter from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range, and 80 percent from the line, which is a guy you want shooting the ball. You want him shooting a lot.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery on Uthoff
McCaffery urged Uthoff to shoot time and time again a season ago, but Uthoff says he was hesitant to pull the trigger.
“I didn’t want to miss any shots,” said Uthoff. “I didn’t want to let the team down. Maybe it was because my feet weren’t set, but I didn’t want to take any shot I wasn’t comfortable with.”
Uthoff played in all 33 games in 2013-14 as a reserve, where he averaged 7.6 points on 50 percent shooting in 18.2 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in 11 contests, including a season-high 19 points in the win over Penn.
McCaffery believes Iowa was better when Uthoff was looking to score.
“When he was aggressive last year, we were a better team,” said McCaffery. “I have enough confidence in his ability to shoot that I want him to shoot the ball every time he’s open. If you’re open, shoot the ball, you’ve got the green light.
“He has the potential to be a 50 percent shooter from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range, and 80 percent from the line, which is a guy you want shooting the ball. You want him shooting a lot.”
Not much changed in the offseason for Uthoff. He spent summer working on all aspects of his game from dribble pull-ups to 3-pointers to taking the ball to the basket. He says the biggest difference is the confidence he has in himself to step up and perform.
“The flow of my game is a lot better, my tempo is better, and I have prepared to take shots when I am open,” he said. “I am ready and confident in myself.”
Official team practices begin Oct. 6. The Hawkeyes host Northwood (Florida) in an exhibition contest Nov. 2 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena before hosting Hampton on Nov. 14 in the regular season opener.