Iowa coach Fran McCaffery knew he was going to miss Adam Woodbury.
He just hoped maybe he wouldn’t miss him quite as much as he has in the first six games of this season.
Woodbury started all but one game during his four years at Iowa and although he was frequently maligned by fans and media for his offensive shortcomings, he always could be counted on to be a stabilizing force at the back end of the Hawkeyes’ defense.
He has been replaced this season by a collection of freshmen and sophomores, and the difference has been glaring. Iowa’s defense around the basket has been one of the primary issues in its 3-3 start to the season.
Seton Hall’s quick guards beat a path to the hoop with very little help defense around the rim. And on Saturday, Memphis’ Lawson brothers — Dedric and K.J. — accumulated 52 points and 21 rebounds with very little resistance from the Iowa post players.
McCaffery said his youthful big men need to be more physical, trust their teammates more, communicate better on the court and “be a little bit better in our anticipation of what’s coming rather than reacting to what’s coming.’’
He said he has a greater appreciation than ever for what Woodbury did.
“Not only was he 7 feet tall but he was one of most effective, efficient, intelligent defensive big guys I’ve ever been around,’’ McCaffery said. “And the impact that had on our team was just immeasurable. He was always in the right place. He always saw what was coming. If we went to a scouting report, he knew what plays they were running and where he had to get himself and where everybody else had to get to, and he communicated that constantly to everybody else.
“The collective calm that resulted from his communication was one of the reasons we won 89 games when he was in the lineup. Hopefully, some of our other guys will get this figured out and it will have an impact moving forward.’’