Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pre-Season Q and A Part IV

What else will you be looking for out of this year's team?

JMeeks writes:

Everyone knows the Cyclones will play fast and score a lot of points.  It looks like this team will play even faster and score more points, if that's possible.  The next step is to start playing quality defense.  You can play undersized and shoot threes and try to outscore the other team, but defense is harder.  To play great defense, you need size and pride.  One or the other isn't going to cut it.  ISU has had plenty of prideful players over the last few years, but just hasn't had the size and depth to compete all game in the paint.  This year, they'll have size and depth with Niang, Hogue, McKay, Nader, even Edozie and the Greek.  That should provide them with enough minutes and fouls to bang down low all game.  But will they have pride to play great defense for 40 minutes?  I know Hogue and Edozie do, and Niang tries hard within the constraint of 5 fouls.  It'll come down to the newcomers McKay, Nader and BDJ.  McKay is definitely the most athletic big man ISU has had in a long time, but he isn't Joel Embiid.  He'll need more than talent to make an impact in the Big 12.  Will Nader be willing to use his size to defend big men?  Will he work hard enough to defend guards if he has to?  Being an off the ball defender might be the most demanding position in basketball.  Will BDJ be able to provide stretches of shut down defense like Chris Babb was beloved for?  Team defense is better than no defense, but it's still a compromise.  To make the jump to elite, the Cyclones will have to be able to play great individual defense when it counts.  For what it's worth, I'd be disappointed if they didn't.  Having the transfers practice against the current players every day for a year had to bring out some intense individual battles.  Niang is the on-court motivator and Naz is the on-court mediator.  Since Coach Fred Hoiberg has already called out the ultimate goal, he won't tolerate a lack of effort and has the depth to back that up.

GreenIvy writes:

Because you mentioned defense I’ll stick with the subject because I think they will be significantly improved.  By the time conference season rolls around and for the first time in Hoiberg’s regime, ISU won’t be undersized all of the place on defense.  There will be no more conceding two point baskets in certain spots like we have seen before and in the grand scheme of things hopefully it will help them land a few more calls.  Hoiberg has actually mixed in a zone to disrupt the pace.  Is this something he will employ more this year?  There are certainly some matchups it will come in handy, namely against Texas.  Fred has a lot of length to use so its certainly something to keep an eye on.  Do I think he will use much of it?  No, I don’t because it typically slows down the pace and generates fewer possessions but its something they could have in their arsenal if the time is right.

I’m also looking to see if this year’s team has a Chris Babb defensive force on it.  Abdel Nader could be that guy.  When Babb was here you knew that no matter who the other team’s stud was, he wasn’t getting his points that night.  It was such an advantage to make sure their stud wasn’t the one that was going to go off.  I think they might employ more of this strategy this year with their depth and the fact that their help is down low in Jameel McKay.

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