Hlas column: White whips shoe, Iowa whips 'Cats
EVANSTON, Ill. — Get that shoe out of here!
That’s what Iowa sophomore forward Aaron White seemed to be saying Sunday, non-verbally. White picked up a Northwestern player’s lost shoe and whipped it into the stands, without a worry where it was headed.
How Wildcat guard Alex Marcotullio lost the footwear midway through the second half, I don’t know. But it was fitting given how his team got figuratively undressed in the Hawkeyes’ 70-50 basketball win at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
It also was appropriate that White was the Hawkeye who fired the shoe into the bleachers during an Iowa possession that resulted in a conventional 3-point play for Eric May. White picked up things in general, like a game-high 17 points, four assists, and four of his team’s seven dunks.
White showed some attitude on the shoe-toss, and even more on the floor as he and his teammates banished a lot of monkeys from their backs.
The 3-game losing streak to start the Big Ten season? Over. The 4-game losing streak here? Done.
The 5-game overall losing streak to Northwestern, which never has been mistaken for a team that was in an NCAA tournament? Over and done.
“I just wanted to get it out of the way,” White said. He was talking about Marcotullio’s shoe, but might as well have been referring to the recent losing.
“We played well for stretches against Indiana, lost. Played horribly defensively against Michigan, lost. Played up and down against Michigan (State), lost.
“I think tonight was big. We played consistently at both ends of the court. We really locked in on them on defense. We really took them out of their stuff offensively.”
White arrived in Chicagoland with a developing head cold on Saturday. “Overnight it just got worse,” he said while coughing his way through a postgame interview.
But during the game he was a carrier of discomfort for the home team, not a sufferer like the last four groups of Hawkeyes to wander through this old gym.
“He’s just been playing great,” said White’s classmate, Josh Oglesby, who had his best game in a quite a while with a season-high 14 points.
“I think he’s becoming a really good leader, too. He’s leading the young guys even though he’s only a sophomore.
“I think (Matt) Gatens had something to do with it last year. He taught a lot of people how to lead, and I think that rubbed off on Whitey.”
For all the fanfare about Iowa’s freshman class in the preseason and the nonconference part of the season, this was strictly Veterans Day. Freshmen starters Anthony Clemmons, Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury were a combined 2-of-17 from the field and managed just five points between them.
Not to worry, this time. The experienced quartet of Oglesby, May, Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe totaled 39 points as Iowa’s bench outscored its starters for the second-straight game.
White, however, was the constant from tipoff until he had logged his 29th and final minute.
He seemed to lose focus at Michigan a week earlier after getting a dunk attempt blocked by Mitch McGary, but he was dialed in here. No cold could slow him. No Wildcat could slow him. No loose shoe could slow him.
“I was just trying to get it out of the way,” White said. “I heard people laugh, so I thought it hit somebody on the bench.”
It almost did. The shoe whizzed past Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery.
“It went right by my chin, yeah,” McCaffery said, but gave the player the benefit of the doubt that it wasn’t intentional.
“No. He’s OK with me, I think.”
The way White played, had he wanted to hit McCaffery, the coach would probably have a shoeprint on his forehead right now.