Dailey set to lead Iowa men’s basketball defensively

Maishe Dailey feels his role this season is as a defensive stopper, and Iowa needs it.

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Dailey set to lead Iowa men’s basketball defensively

Iowa guard Maishe Dailey (1) looks for an open pass around Wisconsin's T.J. Schlundt (20) during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes are going into the game with a conference record of 1-7. Iowa went on to defeat Wisconsin 85-67.

Iowa guard Maishe Dailey (1) looks for an open pass around Wisconsin's T.J. Schlundt (20) during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes are going into the game with a conference record of 1-7. Iowa went on to defeat Wisconsin 85-67.

Ben Allan Smith

Iowa guard Maishe Dailey (1) looks for an open pass around Wisconsin's T.J. Schlundt (20) during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes are going into the game with a conference record of 1-7. Iowa went on to defeat Wisconsin 85-67.

Ben Allan Smith

Ben Allan Smith

Iowa guard Maishe Dailey (1) looks for an open pass around Wisconsin's T.J. Schlundt (20) during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes are going into the game with a conference record of 1-7. Iowa went on to defeat Wisconsin 85-67.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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Maishe Dailey isn’t Tyler Cook. The Hawkeyes do not rely on him for consistent scoring, and the offense doesn’t run through him.

He’s not Jordan Bohannon. While he does play some point guard, he’s not expected to make every 3 or distribute the way Bohannon does.

Dailey’s role is clear to him, though: defensive stopper.

“I think since high school, I’ve always had the ability to defend 1 through 4,” he said. “No matter the speed or size, I feel like I can be that versatile defensive stopper and defend and lock down the other team’s best player no matter what position it is.”

Dailey knows production on defense can turn into offense, and it showed in Iowa’s 77-63 season-opening win over Missouri-Kansas City on Nov. 8.

He said head coach Fran McCaffery gives his players the freedom to shoot and drive with the ball whenever they feel comfortable, allowing him to drop 11 points and 2 assists coming off the bench.

Last season, Iowa finished with the third-best offense in the Big Ten, putting up 79.7 points per, so scoring wasn’t an issue. Defensively, though, the team closed the season with the worst opponents’ points per game mark, giving up 78.7.

“I feel like if we focus on defense, and I focus on defense, our offense will take care of itself, because we had one of the [top-45] offenses in the country last year and then 200-plus defense,” Dailey said. “I feel like if I buckle down defensively, and focus on defense individually, and lead my team defensively, I’ll bring guys along.” 

RELATED: Garza, Baer lead Iowa hoops past Green Bay 

Defense served as Iowa’s biggest weakness in 2017-18. Now, just one season later, Dailey and his squad have some lofty goals on that end of the floor.

“I feel like we can be a top-25 team defensively,” Dailey said. “We have goals set every single game on the board to meet those top-25 defensive goals in the country, and we’re working there.”

Coming off the bench, Dailey brings energy to the floor, much like Ahmad Wagner did last season and Nicholas Baer continues to do.

McCaffery said he believes Dailey has the tools to be a key defensive leader, and now that he’s older, it will only help him.

“When he’s really flying around it’s a big impact, because his activity level, his lateral quickness, his length, his leaping ability is impressive,” McCaffery said. “Toughest thing is to sustain that over long periods of time, and that comes with experience and strength, maturity. And he’s a junior now and physically, probably in the best place he’s ever been, so he can certainly be that guy.”

The Hawkeyes have seen some improvement defensively. It didn’t show up as much against Green Bay, as Iowa gave up 82 points to the Phoenix, although they are a team that likes to fill the bucket up.

In the season-opener against Missouri-Kansas City, Iowa held the Kangaroos to just 36 percent shooting from the field — a sign of improvement despite its only being one game.

“What I’m really proud of is, we talked about it all fall, all spring, all summer, and we came out and our defense is what held us in the game,” forward Ryan Kriener said. “We played pretty good defense. I think we held them to [36] percent shooting, and that’s pretty good stuff. I was really proud of that.”