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Are Hawkeyes now built for long-term success?

[ 0 ] March 22, 2014 |

Devyn Marble attempted 436 field goals as a senior, 191 more than anyone else on the Iowa basketball team.

As the page turns to 2014-15, someone’s got to take those shots. And someone has to step up and score some of the 17 points a game Marble left behind when the season ended in the NCAA Tournament last week. Sophomore-to-be Peter Jok is more than willing to try.

“For sure,” he said. “I mean, I’m an offensive player.”

Jok is one of several players who need to emerge next season if Iowa hopes to continue the progress made under coach Fran McCaffery and make it back to the NCAA Tournament. Adam Woodbury and Jarrod Uthoff are two more leading candidates.

McCaffery has taken the program from 10 victories the season before he arrived to the NCAA Tournament in four seasons. While the recent 20-13 season had a disappointing edge to it, McCaffery’s success so far is the big picture story.

“What I told the guys was, this is one of the proudest, storied programs in college basketball, and it had become almost irrelevant,” McCaffery said after a season-ending overtime loss to Tennessee on Wednesday. “And they made it relevant again. I’m proud of what we accomplished and where we are.”

The question now is this: Is the program built to sustain success? That’s where players like Jok, Woodbury and Uthoff come in. Their improvement is vital for this program to keep moving forward.

This is the first time McCaffery has had to retool a significant portion of his roster since the rebuild began. Departing seniors Marble, Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe accounted for 3,684 career points, 409 games played and 244 starts. The returning scholarship players account for 507 games played, 239 starts and 3,715 points. McCabe and Basabe also had a collective 1,261 rebounds.

Forward Aaron White, a third-team all-Big Ten pick who brings 1,301 career points, 654 rebounds and 85 career starts into his senior season, is a good place to start. And point guard Mike Gesell has started 63 of 67 career games in two seasons.

Jok, a 6-foot-6 guard, earned extended late-season playing time with some quality practices.

“When you go from playing a lot to not playing, there are two ways you can go,” McCaffery said. “You can keep working. You can lock in and get better and force me to play you or you can finger-point and blame and go in the other direction. And he’s a young man with character. He’s worked, and he made me play him. And he kept producing.”

Jok played 32 minutes over the last three games, matching his output in the previous 10. His 16 minutes against Tennessee, and his 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, hadn’t been matched since a Dec. 9 game against Fairleigh Dickinson.

“I’ve learned a lot throughout the whole season, just sitting on the bench and watching the older guys,” Jok said. “I looked up to Dev. I guarded him all the time in practice. That’s helped me a lot on my defense. I felt like I was getting better every day in practice.”

Jok said that defense is the area he needs to work on most. He also needs to improve his ball handling, and become stronger with the ball.

“I work on that every day,” Jok said.

Uthoff, a forward who will be a junior, scored in double figures in 10 of the first 17 games, but just once over the last 16. His showed his upside with a 17-point effort against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament, and extended minutes next season should make it easier for him to find an offensive rhythm in games.

Woodbury scored a career-high 16 points against Tennessee, with eight rebounds, and showed an aggressive approach that will take his game to another level next season.

“He’s a guy that I think we all recognize had a chance to be special when he came to Iowa, and we’re seeing that now,” McCaffery said.

IOWA’S 2013-14 SEASON

RECORD: 20-13, 9-9 in Big Ten (sixth).

WHO’S GONE: Devyn Marble, 17.0 points, career top 10 in eight statistical categories, 136 games, 103 starts; Melsahn Basabe, 1,119 career points, 752 career rebounds, 136 games, 101 starts; Zach McCabe, 871 career points, 509 career rebounds, school-record 137 games, 40 starts.

WHO’S BACK: F Aaron White, third-team all-Big Ten, No. 2 scorer (12.8 ppg), No. 1 rebounder (6.7); G Mike Gesell 7.8 ppg, led Big Ten in assist-to-turnover(128-42) ratio; F Jarrod Uthoff, 7.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg; G Josh Oglesby, 6.6 ppg; C Gabe Olaseni, 6.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, team-high 43 blocked shots; C Adam Woodbury 5.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, improved FT percentage from .510 to .710; G Peter Jok, 4.4 ppg; G Anthony Clemmons, 2.4 ppg; F Kyle Meyer (appeared in just 12 games).

WHO’S NEW: Trey Dickerson, a fleet point guard and native New Yorker who signs a letter of intent in May. He averaged 19.8 points and 5.7 assists at Williston State and has three seasons of eligibility remaining. Iowa also signed Dominique Uhl, a 6-foot-8 forward from Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., and Brady Ellingson, a 6-3 shooting guard from Sussex, Wis., in the fall; Iowa still has one scholarship remaining for next season.

HIGH POINT: An 85-67 victory over No. 10 Michigan on Feb. 8. The Hawkeyes led by as many as 27 points against a team that won the Big Ten regular-season title by three games.

LOW POINT: A 67-62 loss to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, a team the Hawkeyes had defeated by 26 points twice during the regular season.

COULD HAVE USED: Better defense, a consistent No. 3 scorer and better 3-point shooting, though the Hawkeyes did improve their percentage from 30.5 last season to 35 percent this season.

MVP: Marble. He became Iowa’s first Big Ten first-team selection since 2007, and finished No. 5 on Iowa’s career scoring list with 1,694 points.

OPTIMISM FOR 2014-15: Players like Uthoff, Woodbury, Jok and Gesell showed flashes of outstanding play, and Dickerson will improve team’s toughness and athleticism.

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PROJECTED 2014-15 STARTING LINEUP

Guard: Mike Gesell. Struggled offensively (one point) in the final two games of the season, but was the No. 3 scorer and had the best assist/turnover ratio in the Big Ten.

Guard: Josh Oglesby. Improved his 3-point percentage from .269 to .403 after missing first 11 games with broken foot.

Forward: Aaron White. Has started every game the past two seasons, and will need to be a leader as a senior. Improved perimeter skills will make him tougher to defend.

Forward: Jarrod Uthoff. Seemed to regain confidence late in the season and will need to become a double-figure scorer in 2013-14.

Center: Adam Woodbury. Defense, screening and passing skills are undervalued. Strength and consistency on offense a work in progress.

BY THE NUMBERS

Points

Seniors: 30.6 ppg

Returning: 50.9 ppg

Rebounds

Seniors: 11.8 rpg

Returning: 28.6 rpg

Assists

Seniors: 5.2 apg

Returning: 10.9 apg

Steals

Seniors: 2.7 spg

Returning: 4.4 spg

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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