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Plenty of options at shooting guard

BY DANNY PAYNE | OCTOBER 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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The last time Iowa basketball fans saw their team on the court, some of the team’s contributions came from an unfamiliar player. Peter Jok hadn’t scored double-digit points in 21 games, dating back to nonconference play.

Perhaps Jok’s strong 4-of-5 performance from the floor — including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc — in Iowa’s 78-65 overtime loss to Tennessee in the play-in round of the NCAA Tournament, foreshadowed this year’s edition of the team.

The sophomore is one of four — potentially five — options Iowa has at shooting guard. He and Josh Oglesby are the most likely to start come the Hawkeyes’ Nov. 2 opener. Oglesby has eight career starts, including one last season, while Jok didn’t start any in 2013-14.

“I would say it’s an open spot,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “I think you look at it two ways. Obviously Josh and Pete — that will be the logical place to start. Both of them are established.”

McCaffery did note other options, including moving point guard Mike Gesell over, as well as junior Anthony Clemmons and junior-college transfer Trey Dickerson.

McCaffery said freshman Brady Ellingson, who had off-season foot surgery, may redshirt depending on how his injury plays out, but if not, he could get some minutes.

Whether at Iowa or at a previous school, all of those players have played the position and been relied on to score. Dickerson averaged 19.8 points last season at Williston State in North Dakota, Clemmons shot 51 percent from the field last year and hit double-digit points four times as a freshman.

Perhaps more than those two, McCaffery will rely on Gesell for an increased offensive contribution this year.

“Can [Gesell] be a 15-point scorer? He certainly, I think, has the capability,” McCaffery said. “… When I move him over, he’s more aggressive, shooting 3s, attacking the rim, shooting his ball up.”

After averaging 7.8 points per game last season, Gesell knows he has to do what his coach said, and he has no problem with that increased responsibility.

“I’m comfortable playing either the 1 or the 2,” Gesell said. “You’ll see different lineups throughout the year.”

Because McCaffery and Company think they have a number of options at shooting guard, it raises the question, How are all of them going to get on the floor to contribute.

Oglesby thinks it will take different players in different roles. For example, he said, Dickerson could come in and get some stops on defense while Ellingson could knock down a few shots.

“I think everyone is going to have a type of role this year, and it’s just how well they play their role,” Oglesby said.

McCaffery caught some heat last season for rotating too many players on the floor at different times, but he doesn’t care about that criticism. He gave the example of big men Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni, averaging 5.7 and 6.5 points per game last year, respectively. He doesn’t view each as an individual contribution, rather getting roughly 13 points per contest from that position.

With that said, the coach entering his fifth season at the helm of Iowa will have plenty of options when the season starts in a few weeks. It’s just a matter of finding different ways to use them. McCaffery even said that could mean going with a shorter team.

“We’ve got different pieces,” he said. “We’ve got shooters, we’ve got length, we’ve got quicker guys … We can play a smaller lineup, but I think still be able to rebound.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s basketball team.


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