IOWA CITY — Iowa men’s basketball coach Todd Lickliter isn’t averse to providing surprises when it comes to naming captains.
Last year he tabbed then-sophomore Jarryd Cole as a co-captain along with senior Cyrus Tate. It didn’t matter to Lickliter that Cole was coming off season-ending surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee. It mattered even less than Tate and Cole shared the same position.
This year, Lickliter tabbed Cole and incoming senior Devan Bawinkel as his captains. Cole, a junior this fall, was a given considering his previous status. The move to install Bawinkel as a co-captain shocked the player as much as anyone.
“Extremely surprised,” Bawinkel said. “He called me into his offense and I didn’t know what to expect, and he said, ‘We’re thinking about naming you co-captain. So I was in shock a little bit, but I was excited. I was just fortunate to be named that.”
Bawinkel, a 6-foot-5 guard, is the team’s only incoming senior but is entering only his second season with the program. He played one season at West Virginia before transferring to a Highland (Ill.) Junior College. He played in all 32 games last year (starting nine), but he was strictly one-dimensional on offense. He attempted 144 shots, but 139 were 3-point attempts.
Bawinkel’s persona also drew wrinkles from many Iowa basketball observers about the choice. Bawinkel often keeps to himself and brings a low-key approach.
“The vocal part is not really my style,” he said. “I’m more of a quiet guy … just people should do just what is expected of them. I really don’t actually feel like I should tell them. At the same time I know they look for me to be more vocal.”
Lickliter wants Bawinkel to become more assertive on the floor as well as off the court. That includes shooting the ball almost at will.
“I don’t want him to hesitate,” Lickliter said. “I wanted him in position to shoot it, and we need for our other guys to be able to make some plays and get inside the defense. That’s what we worked on a lot, because he should spread the floor for us. And if they collapse, then he should be ready.
“I thought last year his shot preparation needed to be better because either he didn’t shoot it or he was a little bit late and contested. If he’s ready to shoot the ball, and we can deliver it with some precision, he’s a very capable shooter.”
Cole struggled to regain his explosiveness on the court following knee surgery. He started nine games last year and said he’s in good health.
Cole, a 6-7-center, also is a quiet leader who prefers to lead by example.
“I’ve said this time and time again, but I’m not really an authoritative-type figure,” Cole said. “I don’t mind talking by any means. If people need to hear something I’ll make sure that they do hear it. I’m not going to go out of my way to tell somebody that they’re doing something wrong. I’m always going to congratulate them.”
As the team prepares for its second of four exhibitions games in Europe, Lickliter raves about how his upcoming captains are leading the seven-member team.
“Jarryd is doing terrific,” Lickliter said. “I wish I were that healthy. He’s got great strength, and he’s a terrific leader. He and Devan are leading. I really appreciate the way they’ve embraced being captains.”