Oct. 7, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Peter Jok’s new number signifies a fresh start heading into the 2015-16 University of Iowa men’s basketball season.
Jok, a junior, wore No. 3 for the first two years of his Hawkeye career, where he played 61 games and averaged 5.9 points per contest. When his junior season begins with an exhibition contest against Sioux Falls on Oct. 29, Jok don No. 14.
“I wanted a new start,” said Jok. “I will have a bigger role than the last two years, and I need to step up. Coach (Fran) McCaffery gave me the green light the last two years, but I finally feel like I have the green light now. I want to go out and do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Jok’s new start began in the offseason following Iowa’s third-round exit from the NCAA Tournament last March. He took two weeks to regroup before examining everything — his diet, weight training, and on-court skills.
“I have been eating better and am only drinking juice and water,” said Jok. “My body has changed, I gained a couple of pounds, but I am leaner and feel faster.
“I have been able to do more (on the floor). I can run more, stay in the game, and make shots when I am tired.”
As a sophomore, Jok earned a spot in the Iowa starting lineup in late December before starting 21-of-22 games. Jok averaged seven points and scored in double figures in 11 contests, including a stretch of 5-of-6 contests in Big Ten play in early February. He scored 12 points in the NCAA Tournament win over Davidson.
Jok was comfortable — to a degree — in his first two seasons. This season, he has a free mind and he feels he can truly play his game.
“The last two years I felt comfortable when (coach) told me I had the green light, but at the same time I stayed back a little because of the upperclassmen,” he said. “Now I am the upperclassmen, and I finally feel comfortable that I can do what I came here to do and finally play my game.”
Jok shot 35.8 percent from the floor as a sophomore, and made 36 3-pointers. He spent the offseason working on ball-handling and getting his shot off in a variety of ways.
“I’m trying to get my shots off differently,” he said. “I can get my shot off when I want to, but it’s more coming off screens, and taking my man to the basket. I am trying to get to the rim more so I can get to the free throw line.”
With 42 victories and two NCAA Tournament appearances in his first two seasons, Jok wants to help the Hawkeyes continue their upward trajectory this season.
“We have to step up,” he said. “The last two years and since coach McCaffery has been here, we have been improving ever year. We need to take another step forward this year.”
Jok’s ready to help Iowa move forward, and is embracing a fresh start.
“Coach McCaffery told me what he expected after last season,” said Jok. “He wants me to go out, do what I do, and score. That made me more confident going into this season. I can just play as myself and go out and play my game.”
It’s a new start for the new No. 14.