Monday, April 1, 2013

Predictions for 2013-2014, Part II - the Players

- If Ejim makes an improvement like he has the last three years, he could be a unique and special player not only in recent Cyclones history, but Big 12 history too.  However, depending on how the JUCOs turn out, I wouldn't be surprised to see him play a little more 3 and handle the ball and shoot some more.  His three point shot is very good, and he's starting to show something off the dribble.  If Hoiberg owes anything to any of these players, it's Ejim.  He's a long way from home, recruited by the previous regime.  Stuck it out and put up the best rebounding numbers in the big 12 this year.  First recipient of the Big 12 Scholar Athlete award.  Could have his number retired.  I doubt Ejim is a NBA player, but he could make a go of it overseas if he wanted to, and I think Hoiberg would like to showcase that a little bit.  He made Diante Garrett a fringe NBA player, and I watched Chuck Hayes play center for the Rockets for a few years, so nothing is impossible.  I feel like we're just starting to see some of the explosiveness he showed in high school and as a freshman.  More should be in store.

- Monte Morris.  Everyone's focus had been on Matt Thomas, but I think Monte Morris could have the bigger impact next year.  Shooters aren't easy to find, but it's a specific skill set.  If Morris can translate his point guard play and winning ability to the college level, Iowa State shouldn't see a drop off at that position, and that can't be understated.  ISU's point guard play has been inconsistent at best, especially at the start of the season.  And that could be expected from a freshman as well, except what I've read, Morris plays beyond his age level.  This year, ISU didn't need a PG that 'made plays' so much as facilitated the offense.  Eli Manning instead of Peyton Manning.  And I think that will be true next year as well.  Bubu might start next year, but Monte should start by the end, and I expect him to provide solid play down the stretch.

- It doesn't look like a lot of love for Thomas, but what a shooter's dream!  Everyone on the court has a green light.  From anywhere.  ISU works the ball around quite a bit, so I don't think the transition to the speed of college ball will be too much of an issue at first.  If he's good, he'll have to start making shots like Tyrus, but that kind of respect won't come right away.  I don't think we see him starting at first.  And maybe Fred runs him off the bench like Tyrus, but shooters excite me, and strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams.

 - The wild card - SDW.  Who is Sherron Dorsey-Walker?  What kind of player is he?  These questions will be answered this year, and hopefully the answer is he's a Chris Babb clone.  I'm worried the Cyclones will be small at guard, and tentative with the help defense.  ISU needs someone to eliminate one scoring threat on a nightly basis.  I think SDW's best long-term chance at seeing the starting lineup is with a three guard set, and him as the third, defensive guard.  Either this or SDW comes off the bench as the spark plug, but K.J. Bluford seems to have the inside track.  It's been pointed out that SDW had a pretty impressive list of offers, including Michigan, with HC Belein listed as the main recruiter.  Hopefully Fred is just stockpiling talent, and this kid is special.

- Georges Niang.  Not often do you see a kid make an impact early, and then improve during the season as much as Niang did.  He scored early, even though he was obviously slow and a little chubby.  By the end of the season, he looked like a legit college playmaker, and leader.  What excites me the most (after 10000 words...) is Georges Niang.  Unlike other ISU players, who've shown flashes early because of their athleticism (Rashon Clark comes to mind), Georges is doing it with skill.  He's eaten up some of the best big men in the country with post moves.  He shot threes at the second best rate on the team.  Forty percent!  But he's got great hands, great vision.  I think he got the short stick on fouls this year.  I rarely saw him make a bad foul, he just didn't get that calls.  That changes next year with a little more respect.

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