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Hawkeye men think this aspect of game can be difference maker

[ 0 ] June 28, 2013 |

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Kent McCausland knows the importance of a successful 3-point shot.

“Good shooters start runs a lot of times,” said McCausland, Iowa’s career 3-point percentage leader at .453. “You hit a couple of 3s and all of a sudden the crowd is energized, the guys are energized, and you get a steal, or a layup. Threes can be a catalyst to great runs. You do that on the road and it quiets the crowd. It’s a weapon.”

What makes Iowa’s 25-win season in 2012-13 even more remarkable is the fact that it happened with little success from the perimeter. The Hawkeyes shot just 30.5 percent from 3 last season, 11th in the Big Ten. Iowa was last in the league in conference games at 28.4 percent.

“A couple more 3s and you think, “That can be a difference maker,’ ” said McCausland, who played at Iowa from 1995-96 to 1998-99.

Of the 345 teams classified as NCAA Division I last season, 117 of them won at least 20 games. But only five of those 20-win teams shot worse from 3 than Iowa. And only one of those five, Marquette, won more games (26).

Iowa’s good season ended in the title game of the NIT. But one or two more 3-pointers in a handful of games would have landed the Hawkeyes in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa has had 12 teams make the NCAAs since the 3 arrived in 1986-87. None of them shot under 30 percent from 3 in Big Ten games.

“I would be surprised if we didn’t shoot better from 3 (in 2013-14),” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Because we have multiple guys who can shoot 3s. It starts with Mike Gesell and Josh Oglesby. And guys like Zach McCabe,Peter Jok, Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons. We’ve had so many games where there are multiple guys making 3s. I think Aaron White is going to be better. He’ll get to where he’s above 33 percent. Now that changes everything. Now you have seven guys that make 30 or more 3s in a season.”

Iowa had four players make at least 30 3-pointers last season. Devyn Marble made a team-high 49 while shooting just 32.7 percent from that distance. McCabe made 31 while shooting 32 percent. Oglesby made 42 but shot just 26.9 percent. Gesell made 33 and shot just 31.7 percent. In Big Ten play, Gesell shot 31 percent from 3, Marble 29 percent, McCabe 28.2 percent and Oglesby 23.5 percent.

“It’s frustrating because you know they can shoot it,” McCausland said. “You watch a guy like Oglesby shoot it, you see his form, and you know he’s worked on it tirelessly. You feel for him.”

Oglesby, who has missed all his Prime Time League games with a finger injury but is expected to return soon, is concentrating on getting his shot off quicker like Matt Gatens did before his senior season of 2011-12.

“(Earlier in his career), Matt just couldn’t get it off,” McCaffery said. “We kept saying, 'For us to score we need you to make shots.’ So he really worked on that. By his senior year (2011-12) he was shooting it right in people’s faces. It was amazing.”

Jok, an incoming freshman from West Des Moines Valley, made five 3-pointers in his first Prime Time League game this summer and is expected to improve Iowa’s perimeter game next season. Jok said he’s up to handling the expectations that he’ll carry with him onto the floor in 2013-14.

“Everyone thinks of me as a shooter, but I can do more than that,” Jok said.

McCabe said everyone on the team is getting a lot perimeter shots up this summer.

“Not having outside success hurt us in a lot of games,” McCabe said. “People have been working on that. It’s just going to help us get better.”

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Of the 117 NCAA Division I teams that won at least 20 games last season, only five shot the 3-pointer worse than Iowa last season:

North Carolina-Charlotte (21-12) — 26.8 percent

Marquette (26-9) — 29.6 percent

Loyola (Md). (23-12) — 29.9 percent

California (21-12) — 30.2 percent

North Carolina A. and T. (20-17) — 30.4 percent

Iowa (25-13) — 30.5 percent

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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