Not a lot was expected out of Iowa State last season. Almost everyone figured they could be last in the Big 12 conference with just two players back from the season before, but the Cyclones were sort of a surprise. Ordinarily, it is hard for people to become enthusiastic about a .500 season, but it was the first time Iowa State did not possess a losing record since the 2005-6 season.
In Fred Hoiberg’s very first season Iowa State totally changed their identity. Heading from a slow it down and grind it out group to one which ran much more and spread the court. That modification of pace helped the Cyclones rank fifth in the conference and 39th within the nation in offense at 74.8 points for every contest.
Iowa State also shot the 3-ball incredibly effectively last season, draining 275 (8.6 for every game) shots from beyond the line. That was ample to pace the conference and rank 13th in the country.
Only two starters return for Iowa State this year, however the real key could be the addition of four transfers. Last season this group was called the best scout team within the country and helped keep every practice competitive. Now Chris Allen, Chris Babb, Royce White, and Anthony Booker will be ready to prove themselves on the floor.
Last year Iowa State wasn’t extremely deep, so they performed a more conservative half-court defense. With more talent on this year’s roster you can wager they will probably be extra aggressive in utilizing pressure to force turnovers.
Iowa State is going to have to search out a strategy to replace Dainte Garrett’s numbers. He was a high quality point guard who blotted his name all over Iowa State’s record books for both assists and points.
There’s still a whole lot of talent in the Cyclone backcourt. Scott Christopherson is a quite talented shooter who has nailed 131 career three-pointers already. He drained 86 last year, ending up second within the Big 12 and 33rd in the nation at 2.8 each contenst. His 44.1 three-point percentage was good for 11th around the nation and he’s buried a trey in 34 consecutive games. Christopherson doens’t turn the ball over, works hard, and shouldn’t have to log countless minutes this year because of the team’s bench.
You may likely see Iowa State using a good deal of three-guard sets because of possessing so much talent in the backcourt. Transfers Chris Allen, Chris Babb, and Tyrus McGee are strong shooters. Allen and Babb had been Big 10 starters and both avereaged just less than ten points for each game back in 2009-10. McGee is coming over from Cowley Community College.
Chris Allen brings 3 years of expertise from his time at Michigan State. He hass played in 14 tournament games and two Final Fours. He can not only shoot from the outside, but can be a defensive stopper.
Chris Babb made 69 3-point shots in his final season at Penn State and averaged 10.2 ppg in Big Ten action.
Tyrus McGee made 115 3-point baskets last year at a 48.7% clip. He was a NJCAA First-Team All-American and may play both at the two and at point.
Two additional players to keep an eye on are Bubu Palo and Tavon Sledge. Palo played all 32 games last year and proved capable of playing the point position. Sledge is the one with the most potential. He’s incredibly fast and was ranked as the 3rd best participant in New York City following averaging 25.3 points and 5.2 assists in his senior year.
Mevlin Ejim and Jordan Railey each should see time as returning letterman while Royce White, Anthony Booker, and Percy Gibson will all make an impact as newcomers.
Ejim experienced a really productive freshman season last season for the Cyclones. The Canadian put up 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for every game. He was only the 12th freshman in school history to record double figures. Despite his quality production, Hoiberg thinks Ejim will probably be even much better this season. Ejim is more of a small forward, but was forced to move down low last year thanks to the team’s lack of depth.
Royce White was an extremely highly touted recruit two seasons ago, but didn’t perform a game for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and then he sat out last season immediately after transferring to Iowa State. White is sturdy and can be an superb passer. He’ll be beginning at power forward and may very well be the star of this team.
Percy Gibson was one of the top big guys in Michigan last year, averaging 21.2 points and 12 boards every game. Booker was a top-50 player coming out of high school, but only averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds when he was a freshman for Southern Illinois.
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