By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Peter Jok led the Iowa men’s basketball team with 467 field-goal attempts last season.
No other player on the team took more than 304 shots, so there is definitely a shooting void that needs to be filled on offense with Jok having used up his eligibility.
Sophomore Isaiah Moss broke out laughing when he thought about all the shots that will be available now that Jok has moved on.
“Yeah, there is a lot shots,” Moss said Thursday. “Coach has been telling me to be aggressive and keep shooting no matter what.”
Moss will experience life without Jok for the first time officially this season when Iowa hosts Chicago State in the season opener on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Replacing Jok’s scoring is one of the biggest challenges facing Fran McCaffery as he enters his eighth season as the Iowa head coach. Jok led the Big Ten in scoring last season with 19.9 per-game average.
“I’ve been working on that a lot, being more aggressive in practice,” said Moss, who attempted 204 shots last season. “Coach has been telling me to be more aggressive.”
Fran McCaffery talked about the need for Moss to be more assertive at Thursday's press conference.
"Yeah, he's doing it," McCaffery said. "He knows he's going to have the opportunity. Pete's gone. He's been really aggressive. I've given him the green light. We talk about that a lot. But the key with that is you've got to let him miss. You can't give the green light only when he's making. You've got to let him go and tell him to attack and mix it up.
"The thing about him is he's really good off the dribble, getting to the rim, especially in transition. But he's also a terrific jump shooter. So he can still get 20 even if his three ball's not going, and that's what we need him to do."
Moss is coming off a redshirt freshman season in which he started the final 26 games and averaged 6.5 points per game. The 6-foot-5 Chicago native showed flashes of brilliance, including scoring 15 points in the first half at Nebraska, but was inconsistent.
Moss excelled in transition and showed a knack for getting to the rim. But he was streaky from the perimeter, making 29-of-81 3-point shots.
It didn’t matter as much last season when Moss disappeared on offense because he was mostly just a role player who deferred to Jok.
Moss was also mostly just a role player for Simeon High School in Chicago, so this season will present a new challenge for him.
“It’s a new position for me,” Moss said. “I’ve always been kind of like a role player, I guess. But I’m confident in myself. I know I can do it what coach asks me to do.”
BAER DOWN: Fran McCaffery was asked on Thursday where he will most 6-7 junior forward Nicholas Baer the most.
Baer, the Big Ten's Sixth Man of the Year last season, is out for three to four weeks with a broken finger.
"Well, he's a veteran," McCaffery said of the 6-foot-7 Baer. "Even though we have a lot of depth, and I think we have talent, we have size, we don't have a lot of upperclassmen. When you think about it. Dom is an upperclassman. He'll play. He'll play some. But without Nicholas, if I started Jack, we'd have three freshmen, two sophomores. If I start Ahmad, it's three sophomores, a freshman and a junior.
"So it's not a really seasoned veteran team at all. But he's on the floor, it's different. He's a shot maker. He's a savvy guy. He's a versatile player, energy, but he can handle it. He can rebound. He does a lot of everything. So that's a big loss. But I do think we have others that can step in. And I expect them to play well."
Baer was the only Division I player last season, and the only Big Ten player in the last 25 years, to amass 250 points, 45 steals, 45 3-point baskets and at least 40 blocked shots in a season.
Junior Ahmad Wagner, senior Dom Uhl and freshman Jack Nunge will help to fill his void. The 6-7 Wagner is expected to start on Friday.