IOWA CITY — Peter Jok said he knew back before the season even began that he wasn’t the only quality 3-point shooter on the Iowa basketball team.
He knew what he was talking about. While most of the conversation about the Hawkeyes this season has focused on defense and Jok’s diversification as a player and the on-court savvy of freshman Jordan Bohannon and a stellar freshman class, Iowa very quietly has blown away some school records for 3-point field goals.
And although Jok led the Big Ten in scoring, the 6-foot-6 senior hasn’t done that all by himself. In fact, he doesn’t even lead the team in 3-pointers right now. Bohannon does.
The Hawkeyes (19-14) have 284 threes as a team entering Sunday’s 4 p.m. game against TCU in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
That’s 10 more than the 1995 team had in setting the previous standard. And they could end up playing as many as four more games if they keep executing the way they have recently.
”We knew this was the best 3-point shooting team we’ve had here in a while,’’ Jok said. “Coach always said that to the media, but in practice I knew everybody could shoot. It was just a matter of time before they played at their own pace and had the confidence to shoot it.’’
It has been a season-long assault from 3-point range. The Hawkeyes set school records for 3-pointers (18) and attempts (43) in a game in the second game of the season against Savannah State.
But it has become a much more efficient attack recently.
Over the past five games, they are shooting 48.7 percent from long range (56 for 115) and four different players have led them in threes in those games.
Against Maryland, it was Bohannon who knocked down eight 3-point field goals — one short of the school record — in 10 attempts. The next game, against Wisconsin, Nicholas Baer made his first four shots from behind the arc. Jok went four for five and Baer went four for four in the regular-season finale against Penn State.
Bohannon dropped six more bombs in a loss to Indiana in the Big Ten tournament. And in the opening round of the NIT against South Dakota on Wednesday, Isaiah Moss drained four straight threes before halftime.
Oh, and the top guy from a percentage standpoint for the season is Brady Ellingson, who has made 47.8 percent (32 of 67).
“Any time you have multiple guys who can shoot from deep, that’s just going to give you a different dimension,’’ Baer said. “It’s harder to guard when you have four shooters on the floor vs. three or two … When you have guys who can shoot the ball and spread the floor, it really opens up the defense.’’
Baer, who is 19 for 35 from 3-point range over the past eight games, said he thinks the recent surge in success is a blend of team-wide confidence and crisp offensive execution.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,’’ he said. “I think it’s probably the shot selection we’re taking and I think we’re doing a better job of running and getting in transition. If you get wide-open transition threes, it’s going to be a better percentage for you instead of late shot clock, having to force one up. It’s been helpful for us to get our running game going and also being able to find our shooters.’’
Head coach Fran McCaffery has said the Hawkeyes aren’t necessarily emphasizing 3-point shooting more this season although they also broke the school record for attempts in a season Wednesday. He does admit he has more players than ever before.
Bohannon has made 82 shots from behind the arc, which is the sixth best mark in Iowa history. Jok is No. 8 on that list with 79.
All of it has opened up more opportunities for the players who play a little closer to the basket.
“Pretty much everybody on our team can shoot the ball,’’ freshman forward Tyler Cook said. “When we’ve got a lot of guys on the floor who can stretch the defense like that, it gives me a lot of room to operate in the zone.’’