By Pete Ruden
Maishe Dailey used to be the forgotten freshman.
In a recruiting class with the likes of Tyler Cook, Jordan Bohannon, Cordell Pemsl, and Ryan Kriener, Dailey only played sparingly in his freshman season last year.
He said he sees his best fit as a shooting guard, but the opportunity wasn’t there last season, with Big Ten leading scorer Peter Jok and Isaiah Moss manning the position.
But this year, Dailey has been the player the Hawkeyes needed.
The sophomore from Beachwood, Ohio, started off the season with career-highs on back-to-back nights against Chicago State and Alabama State, dropping 10 and 11 points, respectively.
He has kept his fast start going in other aspects of his game as well, grabbing rebounds with his impressive leaping ability and knocking down shots from behind the arc.
In the past three games, Dailey has knocked down 46 percent of his shots from deep.
His play has earned him more minutes; he averaged 20 minutes of action the past three games, a clear uptick from the average of 12 he was granted the three previous contests.
It’s safe to say his level of play thus far has pleased head coach Fran McCaffery.
“He’s just gaining confidence,” McCaffery said after Iowa’s 91-60 win over Southern on Sunday. “He’s versatile, he sticks his nose on the glass, he can handle the ball, he’s got a great stroke, and he’s not afraid to put it up. He’s always looking for it. He was clearly a difference in the game.”
Dailey has been something of an energy guy for Iowa this year, much like what Nicholas Baer is and what he was when he first started making an impact.
Whether it’s scoring, shooting from deep, passing, or playing defense, Dailey has been able to contribute.
His length is a great asset on the defensive end of the floor, as is his athleticism and quickness, which allows him to guard numerous positions and finish plays on offense.
“I am pretty comfortable with [the energy role] just because I’m not really doing out of the ordinary for anything that I’ve ever done,” Dailey said. “I’m just playing my game, and it’s all working … It makes me feel good just to know that all the hard work I’ve put in since I’ve gotten here is starting to show.”
Another key for Dailey’s rise is that his teammates and coaches trust him.
While he might not have seen a lot of action last season, he still has some experience and knows what he can do when he gets his chance.
His teammates have seen the work his has put in and seen him play in practice for well over a year now, so nothing he has done on the court this season surprises them.
“It’s something we knew he was going to have because of the work he put in in the offseason and what we know he’s capable of doing because he’s so athletic and he’s so versatile,” Bohannon said. “He’s one of those players you love having on your team. Being in our class, we know where he’s going to be on the floor because we’re so close off the floor … He’s been huge these last games for us and going forward.”
Dailey’s play this season hasn’t surprised anyone around the program, but has he surprised himself?
“Not at all,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’ve been playing that great, [but] I feel like I’m getting better every game … I’m just learning with experience.”