Brown: Jok jams boxscore, Iowa is better because of it
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Peter Jok tried something new Sunday. He warmed up with headphones on, listening to hip-hop and R&B.
"I used to do it in AAU all the time, but this was the first time in college," Jok said. "Listening to music helps me focus."
So give Jay Z an assist for Jok's 15 points in Iowa's 71-55 blowout of No. 17 Maryland at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. And give an assist to this sophomore guard who has every intention of becoming known as more than just a shooter before his Hawkeye career is over.
Jok was the apple in the eye of many an elite college program after touring the country on the AAU circuit after his freshman season of high school. The calls quit coming after a knee injury in the summer of 2010.
But Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw liked what he saw. Speraw convinced his boss, Fran McCaffery, to take another look. A scholarship offer came before Jok's senior year at West Des Moines Valley. As you might imagine, the Jok-Speraw relationship has become even stronger at Iowa.
"He's definitely my guy," Jok said. "I call him my second dad. We watch a lot of film together. He knows how good I can be, and he's stuck with me. I've got to be better, and be the best player I can be, to reward him for sticking with me."
Jok saw limited time as a freshman — 9.4 minutes and 4.4 points per game — but made his 11th consecutive start Sunday. His 15 points matched a career high, and included 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point range.
"He's done a great job of keeping his head level, playing through it all and just learning," teammate Aaron White said. "He had a great game (Sunday) and a great game at Michigan (Thursday). It's a by-product of us playing as a team."
Jok got the Hawkeyes off to a fast start at Michigan, scoring eight of his team's first 18 points. He scored Iowa's first basket Sunday, a 3-pointer, and got assists on the next two possessions on Adam Woodbury baskets. His 10 points at Michigan and 15 against Maryland mark the first time he's scored in double figures in back-to-back Big Ten games.
Jok worked hard to build his lower body in the weight room over the summer, giving him added strength and more elevation on his jump shot. But it's better ballhandling and play on the defensive end that have increased his playing time to 19.1 minutes per game.
"He wasn't ready to defend at this level and be a consistent player last year," McCaffery said. "He wasn't ready to take care of the ball to the level you have to be ready for at this level, and he figured that out as the year went on. He worked on those things in the summertime, and you're seeing a different guy now. It's made a huge difference on our team."
A team that is now tied for second in the loss column in the Big Ten at 6-4.
Jok's minutes per game this season might be even higher if he wasn't fighting asthma, which zaps him as the game goes on.
"I've just got to keep working on my conditioning, eating better, sleeping better," Jok said.
Jok is now comfortable with the pace of the game, shooting in the flow and not letting opposition defenses speed him up. Becoming more than just a shooter remains a work in progress.
"I've got a long ways to go to be a complete player," Jok said. "But I'm going to get there."
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.