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IOWA HAWKEYES PLAYER PREVIEWS: ADAM WOODBURY

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He's a grump, but he's our giant grump—and if he puts that last 20% of his game together, he'll be a damned good giant grump.

He tall.
He tall.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

Adam Woodbury

Bio: Junior, 7'1, 245 lbs. (Sioux City, IA)
Last season: 16.9 minutes per game, 5.7 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, 51.0% FG shooting

What we saw last season: Last season, Woodbury was about 80% of the way to being a high-level Big Ten player. His size and effort are more than sufficient, his footwork's excellent, he can run, he sees the court well, he gets good looks at the basket, he's a take-no-guffington when things start getting tough... but that 20% is still missing, and that frustrates Woodbury in a way we don't really see from other Iowa players, regardless of whether they're actually playing well or not.

The thing of it is, Woodbury improved rather substantially from his freshman season. He was more involved in the offense, often acting as a distributor on the high post. His presence is becoming dissuasive, as opposing guards and small forwards opted more often to not test Woody's shot blocking skills—say what you will about the Iowa collapse last year, but it wasn't about letting opponents get easy buckets on the inside.

And yet despite having started all 71 of his games in an Iowa uniform, Woodbury seems like the least-liked Hawkeye by fans, drawing a different sort of ire than his teammates get. When Woodbury threw down a dunk then promptly shushed the home crowd, it was a surprise... but it was understandable.

Look, we get it. You see Woodbury's gifts, his opportunities and his hustle and you just want to grab him by his shoulders* and shake him and yell, "how are you not absolutely crushing fools every single night?!" The talent is evident. The results—especially on the ~5-foot shots that continue to rim out with uncanny frequency—are not yet.

*while you're standing on a milk crate, obviously, or however many phone books you need to reach that high.

What we need to see this season: Woodbury's role in the offense is more or less fine, and as soon as those shots begin to fall regularly (like fans have been expecting for far longer than is fair to Woodbury) opponents are going to face a serious problem on where to focus defensive efforts. If Woodbury can channel that chip on his shoulder into confidence and will, he'll be well on his way to realizing his monster potential.

Unfortunately, his foul rate is way too high (6.0 per 40 minutes, and nine games with at least four fouls last year) and his turnover rate—while being down about 20% from his freshman season—was still the worst on the team at 19.0 last year. Woodbury's got to be a more reliable pass-catcher, especially in the Big Ten where the interior play is basically legalized krav maga.

Also, this might be too much to ask from a guy in Woodbury's shoes, but this is a team that could badly use some vocal leadership and a steadying influence. If it's not going to be Woodbury in that role, then who?

But really, it's about finishing the dang shots. If he can push that shot-making rate up past 60%—especially given how readily he can get a shot up and his willingness to do exactly that—the rest will start to fall into place. Woodbury is not shy on the court, and he would gladly hoist 20 shots a game—it's not like he has to work hard to generate a look at the basket. He's 7'1". If those looks become more reliable options than a jumper from the wing, look out.

Best case scenario: Woodbury grows into a small defense's worst nightmare: a reliable 7'1" guy who can run the floor and attack the rim. Depth allows him to log just 25 minutes a game, staying fresh down the stretch and giving Fran McCaffery more offensive flexibility than he's had in his entire Iowa tenure. Woodbury bumps his game up to 10+ points and 8 boards per game, and he becomes one of the most difficult players in the conference to defend. The NBA begins sniffing around, but Woodbury announces after Iowa runs its record to 22-3 that he's coming back for his senior year. There is much rejoicing.

Most likely scenario: Woodbury's production will rise, even if fouls and the continuing emergence of Gabriel Olaseni limit the minutes Woodbury sees. Woody adds some more post moves to his repertoire and gets that hook working better, but there are still pretty good games and pretty rough ones—and it's impossible to predict them until they're in progress. The minutes inch up toward 20, and points are closer to 7 or 8 per this season.

One request: One of the curses of high expectations is that every game can turn into a referendum on the player upon whose shoulders those expectations rest the heaviest. Russell Westbrook and Tracy McGrady come most readily to mind, but look, at the end of the day it's practically a no-win situation. So on this one our request is to the fans: don't take it all out on Woodbury. It doesn't leave anybody happy. Let the man work and live.