Uthoff ready for emergence in debut season

BY MATT CABEL | JUNE 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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Jarrod Uthoff is used to sitting on the bench.

But after redshirting his freshman year at Wisconsin and sitting out a year after transferring to Iowa, the redshirt sophomore is about to leave the bench and work his way into the Iowa lineup.

“I can’t wait,” Uthoff said. “I’m very excited to play with Iowa, and I’m looking forward to it.”

With summer workouts, which began June 10, in full swing, Uthoff is getting acclimated to his teammates differently now that he’s moved on from the practice squad.

He’ll join the likes of Roy Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe, and Zach McCabe — who will close out their Hawkeye careers this season — and underclassmen Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury, who will try to spark the team they helped lead to the NIT championship game.

“I’m keeping the same routine [as last year] and keeping up having a positive mind-frame,” Uthoff said. “I’ll bring to the table whatever coach wants me to do.”

Joining Uthoff for his first in-game action will be redshirt freshman Kyle Meyer, who will compete with 7-1 Adam Woodbury and 6-10 Gabe Olaseni at center. True freshman guard Peter Jok will also join the team. He, as was Uthoff, was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball during his senior season of high school.

“Jarrod and Peter are going to add a lot to our team and the returning things that we have,” Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw said. “[Uthoff] had a great year of practice — he worked very hard on his game and improving it. While he was learning our system and how we liked to play, he also did a tremendous job of executing scout team roles.”

Uthoff said that his role on the practice squad really helped him enhance his game and learn McCaffery’s fast-paced basketball system.

“I got better at the game and pushed myself to help make the other guys better,” he said. “That pushed me to get better. It was nice to learn what Coach [McCaffery] wants from the team.”

Under NCAA rules, the team is allowed to practice on the court for two hours each week and exercise in the weight room four times a week. Speraw said the team breaks into groups for workouts, both on the court and in the weight room.

In these workouts, Speraw said the athletes focus on staying “fundamentally sound” in passing and shooting skills, putting on weight, and strengthening the core and fast-twitch muscle fibers.

“They’re just trying to enhance what they have in their individual repertoire,” Speraw said. “What’s good for one athlete might not be quite as good for another — that’s why we break them down into smaller groups and make things more specific for each individual player.”

The summer workouts will lead the team toward its ultimate goal: earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Expectations for the team have been high, sparked by the Hawkeyes’ postseason run last season.

“We respect the fact that the expectations are high; we welcome the challenge,” head coach Fran McCaffery said in a release after the team’s second-place finish in the NIT. “It’s better than when you’re picked 11th in the Big Ten, where we were my first year, and you’re trying to fight for every positive. Now, there is an expectation that we’re going to beat people. Now, we have to go out and do it.”

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