The Iowa basketball team stepped up the tempo the past few years and averaged 70.1 points per game last season, which ranked 105th out of 340 Division I programs.
But assistant coach Kirk Speraw said we probably haven’t seen anything yet.
“We’re going to play faster this season because we feel we can with the depth that we have,’’ Speraw said Monday while speaking at the weekly meeting of the Davenport Grid Club. “We’re going to press more.’’
The Hawkeyes, who went 25-13 and finished second in the NIT, are only a few weeks away from starting practice for a season that holds immense promise. They already have gotten in some good work during a trip to England and France in August. Iowa went 5-1 on the trip and, according to Speraw, “played pretty good basketball except for two or two-and-a-half quarters when we didn’t have the energy and execution we wanted.’’
Perhaps most importantly, coach Fran McCaffery and his staff got a chance to integrate Wisconsin transfer Jared Uthoff and freshman Peter Jok into their system. Both players performed well, which is why Speraw thinks the Hawkeyes have better depth than ever before.
Jok, in particular, looked as though he will be a big help. The 6-foot-6 recruit from Des Moines averaged 13.3 points per game overseas.
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“This was a tremendous opportunity for him to get in practices early, before his freshman year plus the games,’’ Speraw said. “So, we wanted to throw him into the fire and see how he responded and see how he’d do. I think this will give him a leg up versus not having the opportunity to do that.’’
Speraw said Jok is one of the best pure shooters he has been around although he cautioned not to set the expectations too high.
“I think he’s going to be like any high school player,’’ Speraw said. “He’s going to have to make the transition from high school to college. He’s going to have to improve his intensity level, improve his defense. He needs to understand that people are going to be up into him and be a lot more physical with him.
“I think he’ll make those transitions. We’ve always had a high opinion of what he can bring to our program and I think he’ll be a tremendous freshman.’’