Woodbury eyes bigger role

Iowa center looks to build off impressive effort against Tennessee

Iowa center Adam Woodbury (34) dunks the ball in front of Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) during the second half of a game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, February 8, 2014. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
Iowa center Adam Woodbury (34) dunks the ball in front of Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) during the second half of a game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, February 8, 2014. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

IOWA CITY — Many could view Adam Woodbury's season-ending performance against Tennessee as ambiguous.

Woodbury, a 7-foot-1 sophomore center at Iowa, scored 16 points and played 30 minutes — both career-highs — and grabbed eight rebounds in an overtime NCAA tournament loss. That effort came six days after a one-shot, zero-point effort in 15 minutes against Northwestern.

One can consider the Tennessee game as a precursor to bright future at Iowa or an aberration based on the Northwestern game. Either way, Woodbury said the Tennessee game provides him with a lift entering off-season workouts.

“It gave me confidence that I can do that against anybody,” Woodbury said. “Jarnell Stokes is going to the NBA, projects to a first-round draft pick. If I'm capable of doing that on him, I'm capable of doing that on pretty much anybody. So that gave me confidence going into next year to keep improving, keep working hard and hopefully the sky's limits.”

Woodbury finished that game 8-of-11 from the field. The 30 minutes were his season-high by five minutes. It also set career highs for baskets and attempts in a game.

Stokes and fellow Volunteer, forward Jeronne Maymon, are physical post defenders, yet neither was able to contain Woodbury on offense. Woodbury would like showcase those skills more often next year, especially in Big Ten play.

The Tennessee game was the only time this season Woodbury had attempted more than eight shots. During the regular season, he primarily set screens at the top of the key and passed from the post. Those plays had value, but it didn't elevate his profile.

“I want to show the coaches I'm more of a low-post scorer,” Woodbury said. “We kind of went away from that this year. They didn't have a lot of faith in that part of my game, more of being a screener and getting guys open. So I'm looking to be more of a focal point in the offense and continue to work on my jump shot. It came along a little bit this year and hopefully my release continues to improve.”

“He definitely can be a low-post scoring threat at both ends because he's going to keep working, he's going to be much stronger next year,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He's going to work as hard, harder than anybody, and he knows what he has to do. He's smart and he really understands how to play the game. He's a winning player, above anything else.”

Woodbury has gained about 20 pounds since arriving at Iowa nearly two years ago. He's physically stronger with more definition and improved as a free-throw shooter. He shot 51 percent from the line as a freshman and increased that to 71 percent last year. As a sophomore, he averaged 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds and has started 71 consecutive games.

To continue making strides, Woodbury took off a few days before beginning spring workouts. He plans to compete on a traveling team to Estonia — like several other recent Hawkeyes — this August.

“I felt I grew in a lot of different areas,” Woodbury said. “Obviously it wasn't a perfect season, but I don't think I'm going to have a perfect season. I felt I wanted to continue to grow, and I did there and I'm looking to make those strides next year.”

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