IOWA CITY — This is how high the expectations had gotten for Iowa forward Tyler Cook before he ever played his first game in an Iowa uniform.
When the 6-foot-9 freshman only managed 15 points, six rebounds, three steals and three dunks while making his debut in a preseason exhibition game Friday night, a few people probably walked away mildly disappointed.
Fran McCaffery wasn’t one of them. Neither was Cook.
Then again, both of them feel Cook can and will dominate much more in future games than he did in the Hawkeyes’ 95-73 victory over Division II Regis University.
"He was terrific," said McCaffery, who gave his team mixed reviews in its first public appearance. "He was a presence at both ends of the floor and he fit in well with what we need him to be. We just need to go to him more. He had 15 points on nine shots. Those numbers need to be doubled."
Cook agreed that he did OK.
"But there was lot of things I could have done better," he added. "I think I did good job of finishing, hit my free throws. I’ve got to do a little better job on my outside shots."
Cook arrives from Chaminade High School in St. Louis as perhaps Iowa’s most ballyhooed recruit in a decade and he did nothing to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm during the summer with his spectacular play in the Prime Time League.
Teammates such as Nicholas Baer said the spin moves and resounding dunks the kid showed Friday are what they already have come to expect.
"He’s a big recruit for us," Baer said. "I think Hawk fans are really excited to see him play. We’re going to try to continue to get him the ball and he’s going to finish like he did tonight."
There weren’t many real surprises in the Hawkeyes’ final dress rehearsal for next Friday’s regular-season opener against Kennesaw State.
Peter Jok, expected to be one of the most electrifying scorers in the country, tossed in what seemed an almost leisurely 28 points.
Baer, expected to provide a jolt of energy for the Hawkeyes, finished with nine points and team-high totals of seven rebounds, three blocked shots and countless floor burns.
New point guard Christian Williams was solid, with 11 points, five assists and no turnovers.
And all those youngsters expected to play supporting roles had moments of solid play flavored with a sizeable dose of inconsistency.
“There was a lot of good but there are a lot of things to work on …’’ McCaffery said. “I thought our effort level when we got the lead was not what it needs to be … You can’t play the game that way. You can’t play in spurts.’’
The Hawkeyes pretty much won the game on the basis of two huge spurts. There was a run of 18 straight points in the first half that was mostly Jok.
After getting just three little free throws in the first 14 ½ minutes, the 6-foot-6 senior fired in 16 more points before halftime, including four 3-pointers. Then he opened the second half by flinging in a shot conservatively estimated at 28 feet.
After the Hawkeyes relaxed on defense and went about 7 ½ minutes without a field goal in the second half, allowing the Rangers to close to within nine points, Baer and Williams sparked a 17-3 scoring run to put the game out of reach.
At one point during one of the interceding lulls, Jok took over for McCaffery in the huddle, vigorously pleading with his young teammates to step up their intensity.
“Today’s game was a wakeup call,’’ said Jok, who only attempted nine field goals on his way to his 28 points. “We need to make things happen on defense. We didn’t play great defense tonight.’’
It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from a 22-point conquest of a Division II team that won nine games last season. Then again, it probably was better than losing an exhibition, as the Hawkeyes did a year ago against a much more formidable Augustana University team.
“It was fun,’’ Cook said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff we’ve to work on obviously. We’ve got to pick up our intensity defensively and our offensive execution obviously wasn’t the best either ...
“We kind of eased off the gas a little bit and that can’t happen.’’