By Brendan Stiles
NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — Trades in a summer basketball league might seem strange, but the one that took place in the Prime Time League proved to be of benefit Sunday to an incoming Iowa freshman.
Forward Kyle Meyer had played two games this summer for the Jill Armstrong of Skogman Realty squad. On Sunday, that was the team he was facing after he was moved over to the Culver’s/Iowa City Ready Mix squad that was down one player the rest of the summer.
As a result, Meyer found himself starting instead of sitting behind junior forward Melsahn Basabe and former center Jarryd Cole. Not only that, but the 6-10 forward saw a lot more playing time. Culver’s/Ready Mix fell 109-94 to Armstrong/Skogman, but despite the outcome, Meyer, who had a combined four points through the first two games, posted a double-double Sunday of 14 points and 12 rebounds.
“He’s here for a reason,” sophomore forward and new PTL teammate Aaron White said. “I think he showcased a little bit of what he can do tonight. I still don’t think he’s fully comfortable with where he’s going to play at the college level, but he can do a lot of things. He’s a big body and he’s going to be good for us in the future.”
Meyer feels the biggest strides he has made this summer have come defensively, particularly becoming acclimated to guarding players on the he knows are as talented as he is, if not more. He also made clear that he hasn’t set any goals for himself as it pertains to what he wants to accomplish in his first season playing.
“I’m not setting any goals,” Meyer said. “I’m just going in there to do the best that I can and hopefully contribute to the team.”
Meyer wasn’t the only member of his team to record a double-double. White finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds, both of which were team-highs. Culver’s/Ready Mix also received a 17-point, six-rebound effort from senior Eric May and an eight-point outing from incoming freshman guard Anthony Clemmons.
Meanwhile, the play of Meyer’s former PTL squad was propelled by junior forward Melsahn Basabe and incoming freshman point guard Mike Gesell. Basabe had 32 points and nine rebounds, while Gesell had a 25-point outing that also included five rebounds and four assists.
Armstrong/Skogman looked to be in complete command of this game after dominating the first half and leading by as many as 15 points. Culver’s/Ready Mix trimmed the deficit down to 79-77 in the second half and with about five minutes remaining trailed 92-88 before a 17-6 run by Armstrong/Skogman sealed the outcome.
“We had the big lead and I knew they’d make a run sometime,” Gesell said. “They made it and we were able to respond.”
Gesell, who shot 11-of-18 from the floor en route to his 25-point game, said afterwards he has found himself in more of a groove this summer in terms of adapting to the college game and knowing what will be expected of him as the guy who will more than likely be Iowa’s starting point guard come November.
He’s also looking to follow some words of wisdom he received from former Iowa player Roy Marble.
“He was telling us how we just have to beat the crap out of each other every day in practice and just make each other better,” Gesell said. “That’s someone you got to listen to when they talk because that guy’s like a God around here. That’s something I’m going to take to heart.”
The first contest of the afternoon saw L.L. Pelling Company/McCurry’s defeat a previously unbeaten Vinton Merchants/Mike Gatens Real Estate squad 98-84 in a game that was one-sided most of the way.
Sophomore center Gabe Olaseni anchored the way with a 20-point, seven-rebound performance coming against incoming freshman center Adam Woodbury, who had eight points and 14 rebounds himself. Meanwhile, junior guard Devyn Marble had a game where his numbers may have looked pedestrian, but his play was anything but.
The stats show Marble finishing with 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting, five rebounds and four assists. But what the box score didn’t show was the burst that was on display when the ball was in his hands.
“He’s way more explosive,” said sophomore guard Josh Oglesby, who had 20 points for Merchants/Gatens and spent most of the game guarding Marble. “He’s trying to score and get his teammates involved. He’s taking control.
That explosiveness is something Marble acknowledged that the Iowa coaching staff has been placing emphasis on when talking with him about ways to improve his game. One such example of it from Sunday’s game came early in the first half. Guarded one-on-one, Marble found an open lane to the rim and without hesitation went up for a two-handed dunk.
“I could’ve easily laid it up, but just having that mentality that a dunk can really change the momentum of a game, it probably helped today with the momentum,” Marble said. “It’s just something that I’ve been working on.”
As for the game itself, most of Marble’s production came in the first half. Once Pelling/McCurry’s went ahead 79-59 in the second half, the outcome was well decided. In defeat, junior forward Zach McCabe had 12 points and eight rebounds for Merchants/Gatens, while incoming transfer and PTL top overall pick Jarrod Uthoff had eight points and eight rebounds.
“We just didn’t play well,” McCabe said. “Guys were getting a little frustrated with in-and-out stuff. Guys stopped moving on offense, and I think it just translated on defense a little bit.”
PTL play resumes July 8 at the North Liberty Community Center, starting at 3 p.m. Central when Culver’s/Ready Mix takes on Pelling/McCurry’s. Armstrong/Skogman will play Merchants/Gatens in the second game at 4:30 p.m. Central. Both games will be played in the Jones Gym.
Pelling/McCurry’s (WHITE) VS. Merchants/Gatens (GOLD) (FIRST HALF VIDEO):
Pelling/McCurry’s (WHITE) VS. Merchants/Gatens (GOLD) (SECOND HALF VIDEO):
Armstrong/Skogman (BLUE) VS. Culver’s/Ready Mix (BLACK) (FIRST HALF VIDEO):
Armstrong/Skogman (BLUE) VS. Culver’s/Ready Mix (BLACK) (SECOND HALF VIDEO):