Northern Iowa and University of Iowa basketball players are getting together to play in the Prime Time League. Here are some of the more intriguing players and matchups to watch for. Tyler Davis/The Register
NORTH LIBERTY, Ia. — Maishe Dailey has a checklist of what he wants to improve on heading into his sophomore season as an Iowa guard.
The first three items are identical, summed up in a single word.
Confidence. Confidence. Confidence.
How’s that working out so far?
“My goal is to start, so I’m trying to beat everybody out at my position,” Dailey proclaimed Thursday after playing in the Prime Time League at the North Liberty Community Center. “It’s going to be tough, but that’s my goal.”
Hawkeyes that would seem to have the edge on Dailey for playing time include Isaiah Moss, Nicholas Baer, Christian Williams and Brady Ellingson.
But the fact that Dailey is even aiming so high says a great deal about a player who logged the least game time of any returner on Iowa’s deep roster. Dailey, the last freshman to sign on with the Hawkeyes a year ago, appeared in only 12 games last winter, averaging 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds.
Dailey said he never considered transferring in search of more playing time, wanting to prove that he can have an impact in the Big Ten Conference.
“I think everybody goes through a freshman wall or whatever wall you want to call it. Mentally, I think I can get through it,” Dailey said.
“Coming from a guy that was a star in high school to in college being the last person on my team, that takes a toll mentally. That’s what people told me, but I didn’t really realize it until it happened to me. That’s where the confidence thing comes in.”
Dailey has grown an inch, up to 6-foot-7 now, and he’s not done yet, he said. Also on his checklist — along with improved ball-handling and shooting — is to weigh 205 pounds by the time the season starts in four months. He’s at 195 now.
He hopes the extra weight adds up to a premier defender.
“With how light I am, I can move my feet with the guards. And with how long I am, I can rebound with the bigs,” Dailey said. “So I can play inside and out defensively.”
It’s difficult to picture how Dailey fits in with an Iowa team that will be adjusting to life without Peter Jok. That leaves an opening for a wing player, but everyone this summer seems to be rushing to try to fill it — from junior forward Ahmad Wagner to incoming freshman Jack Nunge. Plus the four players Dailey mentioned.
Dailey’s strength is his lack of a weakness. He does everything well, from rebounding to passing to defending. But does he do any one thing well enough to supplant a more experienced teammate?
“He’s a great facilitator,” said Ellingson, a junior who frequently matches up with Dailey in practices. “You’ve got to respect his scoring but he’s also setting up other people. Probably one of the best passers on our team.
“I think he can guard the 1 through the 3, too.”
Ellingson was matched up with Dailey again Thursday in their PTL game. Dailey burst from the gate with an 11-point first half, including three 3-pointers. But he was scoreless in the second half.
Afterward, he pronounced his confidence as high, the result of hours of individual workouts. But that doesn’t mean he’s checked off those boxes on the first three items of his offseason to-do list.
“That’s always going to be unchecked,” Dailey said. “I just need to keep gaining my confidence and keeping it up there.
“Playing time’s not really my concern right now, just making myself better every day. And then if I do that, my minutes will take care of themself.”