New week, new Big Ten Player of the Week honoree from the Iowa Hawkeyes? Yep yep yep.
Jok becomes the third Iowa player to win Big Ten Player of the Week honors this season, after Mike Gesell and Jarrod Uthoff. As best I can tell, this is the first time Iowa has ever had three different players win Big Ten Player of the Week honors in the same season. He also becomes the second Iowa player to win the honor in the last two weeks, after Gesell won it last week. And if you're wondering whether that has ever happened before... not really.
Iowa has won back-to-back B1G Player of the Week honors (not shared) for the first time in school history. #Hawkeyes— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) January 18, 2016
Adam Haluska was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on January 30, 2006 and Jeff Horner was named Co-Big Ten Player of the week on February 6, 2006, but no Iowa players have won solo PotW honors back-to-back like this.
But back to Jok and his superb week. Iowa's red hot and the belle of the ball right now and Jok's play is a big reason why. He provided some of his best performances of the season in Iowa's wins over Michigan State and Michigan last week, too. He averaged 19.5 ppg while shooting 58% from the field and draining 7/11 three-pointers over the two games. He also logged 3.5 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, and 1.5 steals per game. Against Michigan State, Jok did his damage in the first half, torching the Spartans for 19 points as Iowa built a commanding 47-25 halftime lead. Against Michigan, Jok flipped the script, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the second half and guiding Iowa's game-clinching run.
Jarrod Uthoff's emergence as a superstar has been a big part of Iowa's success, as have best-ever performances by seniors like Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, and Anthony Clemmons and key bench contributions from Dom Uhl and Nicolas Baer. But Jok's development into a reliable second banana (and sometimes even more than that) on offense, as well as his improved defense, has made him a key part of Iowa's success this year, too. Matt broke down the improvements in Jok's game in an excellent post last week:
Jok's offensive rating is back up to 108.5 this season after being at 96.9 last year. And that's great timing, seeing how he has been expected to play a bigger role and give Iowa more offensive output as a junior. His usage rate this season is at 26% after being at 21% the past two years, and he's taking about a third of the teams total shots when he is on the court, which is also up from about 25% the last few years. His shooting this season has helped his efficiency return to respectable levels, but another key is the fact that his turnover rate is at an all-time low. In fact, Jok's turnover rate is currently the best on the team and 99th in the country, by Kenpom's standards. Between bad shots and turnovers, Jok's penchant for empty possessions in the past has hurt Iowa's offense. But that has not been much of an issue this year.
What also hasn't been much of an issue this season is Peter Jok's defense this year. I'm not saying he's a lockdown defender, but he no longer seems to be the defensive liability that he used to be. Again, defense is hard to capture with statistics, but Jok's junior season thus far is the first time he has had a defensive rating below 100 (i.e. 1 point per possession allowed). He also seems to be buying into McCaffery's idea of jumping the passing lane this season, as his steal rate has gone from 1.7-2.0%. in his first two years to 3.2% this season. For reference, KenPom has Jok at 142nd in the country in steals among qualified players.
This is the Jok people imagined seeing in college before he tore up his knee in high school. He's recovered from that setback, fully acclimated to the speed and physicality of the college game, and made himself into a lethal shooter and opportunistic (and increasingly effective) defender. That development has been fun to watch and it's gratifying to see his impressive play rewarded with Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Congrats, Pete -- now let's keep the good times rolling (and the shots falling).