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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

2013-14 Iowa State Men's Hoops Prospectus

Release: 08/27/2013
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2013-14 Season Outlook
Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has turned the Cyclones into a high-octane, high-scoring machine in his three seasons in Ames. “The Mayor”, who lost four of his top six scorers due to graduation, will attempt to repeat in 2013-14 what he orchestrated last season despite the turnover.

The Cyclones led the Big 12 and ranked third nationally in scoring averaging 79.4 points per game in 2012-13.

The fast-paced gameplan instituted by Hoiberg paid off as the Cyclones went 23-12 and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

Iowa State posted a pair of top-15 wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma State and finished the season 16-1 at home with only an overtime loss to No. 6 Kansas as a blemish on its resume. In the last two seasons, Iowa State is 32-3 (.914) at Hilton Coliseum. Hilton Magic is back, and you can thank The Mayor.

ISU boasted the nation’s 22nd-best home attendance average with over 13,000 fans per game for the second season in a row and third time since 1993.

Hoiberg’s coaching staff will have a different look this winter as former Nebraska head coach and Kansas Director of Basketball Operations Doc Sadler joins the staff to replace T.J. Otzelberger.

With Otzelberger and Director of Basketball Operations Jeff Rutter’s departure, Hoiberg quickly pegged Sadler as his guy to fill the opening.

“I felt the need to add a coach with experience and Doc fit that need,” Hoiberg said. “He has been in this business a long time and is proven as a recruiter and a coach. As someone that is still relatively new in this position, Doc has already been very valuable for me to lean on.”

The Cyclones will once again have a lot of new faces on the court. They do, however, return a pair of talented posts in senior Melvin Ejim and sophomore Georges Niang, who are the only two of the top six scorers returning to the fold this season.

Hoiberg will again rely heavily on a transfer after adding former Marshall guard DeAndre Kane to the team in late May. Kane, who will be eligible this season after graduating from Marshall, hopes to follow in the footsteps of other Hoiberg transfers like Royce White, Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, Chris Babb and Chris Allen.

The question is, can Hoiberg once again replace a large number of significant contributors and still be relevant in the Big 12 race?

The former Cyclone and NBA star believes because of the system in place, they can.

“It is about getting the right guys for your system,” Hoiberg said. “I give our staff a lot of credit for getting the right pieces here, guys that fit how we play the game. I think we’ve got those guys again this year. We are going to be a lot younger than a year ago with the exception of DeAndre and Melvin. Now it’s about how quickly can those other guys grow up?”

The other guys Hoiberg speaks of are the other five newcomers besides Kane, which includes highly touted freshmen Monté Morris and Matt Thomas. Morris and Thomas, who were both top-100 high school recruits, are joined by three JUCO transfers that will be looked upon to contribute.

Iowa State will likely continue to rely heavily on the 3-point shot after leading the nation with 9.9 threes made per game last season.

Hoiberg still sees making the tournament as the ultimate goal, with anything possible if you can accomplish that.

“The big thing is getting into the tournament and then anything can happen,” Hoiberg said. “I think we showed that last year. We were playing our best basketball at the end of the season. We had maybe our most complete game of the year against Notre Dame and then played well enough to win against Ohio State. I honestly think that had we gotten past Ohio State we had a real chance of making it to the Final Four.”

The Backcourt

Iowa State’s backcourt took a hit with the departure of Babb, Clyburn, Lucious and Tyrus McGee, all of whom played a major role in the Cyclones’ success a year ago.

In losing those four, ISU must replace its top scorer (Clyburn), ball handler (Lucious), defender (Babb) and 3-point shooter (McGee). All four players earned postseason honors from the Big 12.

Clyburn paced Iowa State with 14.9 points per game en route to earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors. Lucious, an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick, started all 35 games at point guard for the Cyclones and was second in the league with 5.6 assists to go along with 10.1 points per contest.

Babb, a member of the Big 12 All-Defensive team, was also a threat offensively averaging 9.1 points per game despite drawing the assignment of guarding the opponent’s top backcourt scorer. McGee, the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, was the nation’s top 3-point shooter at 46.4 percent and chipped in 13.1 points off the bench while playing just 24 minutes per game.

Hoiberg knows the importance of backcourt play and despite the key losses believes there are pieces in place to still be successful, especially with the addition of Kane.

“Losing four of our top six scorers from a year ago from the backcourt is obviously tough, especially when really good guards is ultimately what wins you games,” Hoiberg said. “Right now, it is pretty wide open back there. I think getting DeAndre was a very important pickup for us.”

Kane, a 6-4 guard from Pittsburgh, gives the Cyclones immediate help at multiple positions. He has played 96 career games and is one of just two players nationally to average 15 points in each of his first three collegiate seasons. Last season for the Thundering Herd, Kane averaged 15.1 points and was 11th nationally with 7.0 assists per game as he earned All-Conference USA honors for the third time in his career.

“He’s tough,” Hoiberg said. “The number one thing you see is how tough and competitive he is. He finishes at the basket extremely well. He also makes the right plays. I’ve been really happy with DeAndre and he is a guy that really fits what we want to do.”

The Cyclones will rely heavily on newcomers K.J. Bluford, Dustin Hogue, Thomas and Morris to eat up minutes along with sophomore Naz Long, who was used sparingly as a freshman. Throw into the mix redshirt freshman Sherron Dorsey-Walker and Hoiberg has a solid mix of players at his disposal.

Long, a 6-4 guard from Mississauga, Ontario, saw just under seven minutes a game as a freshman while filling in as a backup point guard. He averaged 1.4 points and 1.0 assists.

Dorsey-Walker redshirted last season while focusing on adding weight to his slight 6-4 frame. The Detroit, Mich. native bulked up to 200 pounds, a 28-pound difference from when he arrived on campus, while also spending plenty of time with Hoiberg fine tuning his jump shot.

“Naz and Sherron are guys that didn’t have to contribute much last year because of the depth we had in the backcourt,” Hoiberg said. “They are two guys that will be counted on as they continue to grow as players.”

Bluford, a 6-1 junior guard from Northeast Community College (Neb.), is another guard that could help fill the void left by four players that averaged over 24 minutes per game graduating. He adds an immediate long distance threat for the Cyclones. At Northeast, he averaged 17.8 points and drilled 113 3-pointers at a 38.8 percent clip. In his two year career at the school, Bluford made 205 3-pointers and scored over 1,000 career points.

“K.J. is a guy that can really shoot it,” Hoiberg said. “We like to have guys in our system that can knock it down and he is a player that can really get it going on the perimeter.”

Hogue, a transfer from Indian Hills Community College (Iowa), adds a big body and potential mismatches on the perimeter for the Cyclones. The 6-6 junior averaged 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds at Indian Hills while shooting 49.4 percent from the field.

“Dustin has really impressed me with his athleticism and physicality,” Hoiberg said. “I think he is another guy that can really defend for us and play big minutes. He’ll play multiple positions and create mismatches because he is good enough to play on the perimeter, can post up on smaller guys and still go around bigger guys if you play him at the four.”

With the offense Hoiberg runs, Hogue is a player that is very valuable to the system.

“Our offense doesn’t really have set positions like a lot of traditional offenses do,” Hoiberg said. “I love versatile guys and Dustin certainly fits that mold.”

The high school duo of Morris and Thomas arrives in Ames with much fanfare. They join Niang as top-100 high school recruits during the Hoiberg era.

Morris, a 6-2 point guard out of Flint, Mich., was one of the top point guard recruits in the nation at Beecher High School. As a senior, “Man-Man” averaged 23.8 points and 8.8 assists on his way to earning the state of Michigan’s Mr. Basketball Award.

Thomas, a 6-3 guard from Onalaska, Wis., earned a No. 51 rating from ESPN. The sharpshooter brings good size and a knack for scoring the basketball. As a senior, Thomas averaged 28.3 points while shooting 50.4 percent from the field. He shot 35.8 percent from behind the arc and 82.9 percent from the charity stripe.

“I’m pleased with what I’ve seen this summer from Matt and Monté,” Hoiberg said. “Both guys have a lot of potential. They’ve got some growing pains to get through, but they’ve gotten better every week and that is very important.”

The Frontcourt

While the backcourt is a work in progress, Hoiberg can rest easy with his options in the post.

Hoiberg will lean heavily on Ejim and Niang, who are both coming off successful 2012-13 seasons and are proven leaders on the team. The duo is one of just two post tandems in the Big 12 returning after both averaged double figures a year ago.

The mobility and basketball IQ of Ejim and Niang allows Hoiberg to do exactly what he wants to do with his offense.

“We love to play fast and with Georges and Melvin you have two guys that can do that,” Hoiberg said. “Not a lot of bigs are used to guarding the actions that we run. They are great at reading when to set a ball screen, when to roll, when to pop or when to dribble handoff. They are two guys that just get it. They understand the game. When your big guys have the IQ they do it makes it very difficult to guard.”

Ejim, a 6-6 forward from Toronto, Ontario, showed tremendous growth as a junior. He averaged a career-high 11.3 points and led the Big 12 in rebounding (9.3 rpg) and double-doubles (15) in earning All-Big 12 Third-Team accolades.

“Melvin was great for us last season,” Hoiberg said. “Leading the league in rebounding and double-doubles is a heck of an accomplishment for someone that is 6-6. He has really improved his shot this summer while playing on Canada’s World University Games team. He was very successful on that team and we expect that will carry over.”

Niang’s great freshman campaign came to the forefront of the college basketball world in the NCAA Tournament when he went 9-for-13 from the field to score a game-high 19 points against Notre Dame. It wasn’t as though Niang went unnoticed during the regular season, however, as the crafty 6-7 forward averaged 12.1 points and earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Rookie Team.

Niang, a Methuen, Mass., native, spent the summer improving his body composition and Hoiberg believes he’ll be even better as a sophomore.

“Georges is returning as a sophomore that I thought was as good as any big guy in the league during the conference portion of last season’s schedule,” Hoiberg said. “His body has improved and he has dropped some weight. He’s a guy that we will lean on a lot. You’ll see us run a lot of offense through him because of what he can do with the ball in his hands, as well as away from the ball.”

No player has reaped the benefits of the addition of Sadler to the Iowa State coaching staff like junior Percy Gibson.

After a promising freshman season, the 6-9 center plateaued a bit as a sophomore. Gibson contributed 4.5 points and 2.6 rebounds off the bench but saw his field goal percentage dip from 65.6 percent to 49.2 percent. Hoiberg has seen the rewards of Gibson’s summer work with Sadler and expects him to be a contributor as a junior.

“Percy has had a really good offseason and our hope is that will benefit him this winter,” Hoiberg said. “He has been really focused and has been working hard with Doc, who he connected with very quickly, and is in much better shape than he was a year ago.”

Iowa State has one newcomer in the post in junior college transfer Daniel Edozie, a product of Tyler J.C. (Texas). Edozie brings his 6-8, 235-pound frame to Ames and provides another option in the post for Hoiberg.

“Daniel is a tough and physical presence in the post and I think he has a chance to be a very good defender for us,” Hoiberg said.

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