Aug. 6, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa senior men's basketball player Melsahn Basabe used two months at home in New York to work summer jobs and concentrate on conditioning and mental focus. Now he is glad to be back with Hawkeye teammates and coaches.
"I missed everyone and the positive vibe here," said Basabe. "I have a lot of love in New York, but here in Iowa everything is so comforting and enjoyable."
The 6-foot-7 forward was plenty busy the past couple months. When Basabe wasn't working summer youth camps or making deliveries for a pharmaceutical company, he was in the gym lifting weights and working on his conditioning.
"The critical thing for me this summer, and moving forward, is where I am mentally and with my conditioning," said Basabe. "I need to continue to listen to my coaches and work as hard as I can to improve my conditioning and basketball skills."
UI head coach Fran McCaffery believes Basabe's game is at a point now where he's doing a lot more things.
"He's not making mistakes and he is playing with a great energy level," said McCaffery. "He knows this is his last year, and he needs to have the kind of season that he should have. We've all seen greatness from him. It's always been a matter of how consistent he is. He has challenged himself to be as consistent as he possibly can be this year."
McCaffery said that being a senior, Basabe will have added responsibilities as a leader.
"He recognizes that he's going to be a captain this year, and that he needs to act like a captain," said McCaffery.
Basabe arrived back in Iowa City on July 31 and said it's been great reuniting with his teammates.
"I was so excited the first day I got back because I love playing with my teammates and I appreciated it even more when I was away," said Basabe. "I was following their progress this summer on Twitter, their Prime Time League games, and how hard they have worked. I was eager to return."
UI junior Aaron White said it's good to have Basabe back.
"He's in good shape," said White. "He has been active in our practices, all over the glass and he has been running the floor hard."
Like his teammates, Basabe is looking forward to next week's tour overseas.
"This will be my first trip to Europe," Basabe said. "It's a great way to start my senior year. I'm excited. I want to soak everything in and do as much as possible. Everything over there is going to be like an amusement park for me. It's mainly a business trip, but we're going to have some fun too. The whole experience will be a blessing."
Basabe, who averaged 6.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game during his junior campaign, wants to improve those numbers in his final season as a Hawkeye. The 10 practices and live games in August will be beneficial for Basabe and the rest of the Hawkeyes in October.
"Usually in the summer you are working on strength and individual skills, but this allows us to get our basketball stamina and focus back early," said Basabe. "This also allows us to set a benchmark for where we want to be when we start practice in the fall."
The Hawkeyes have five more practices in Iowa City before departing for England on Sunday. Iowa will play a pair of exhibition games in London, Aug. 13-14, before concluding their trip in France with four games (Aug. 16-17 and Aug. 19-20).