Iowa State Cyclones
Overall Rank: #139
Conference Rank: #9 Big 12
2010-11: 16-16, 3-13
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Fred Hoiberg (16-16 at Iowa State, 16-16 overall)
Iowa State did not end the 2010-2011 season very well, losing 12 of their final 14 games. First year coach Fred Hoiberg had his work cut out for him and while the team did have some quality wins, they pretty much fell apart by the end of the year. The bad news, and the good news, is that most of those players are gone and the Cyclones get to start over in the new look Big 12.
Six players averaged over 20 minutes per game during the 2010-2011 campaign and four of them are gone. Diante Garrett was the only player on the team who could create shots for himself and his teammates and his absence will hurt the most. Replacing his 17.3 points per game is manageable, but replacing his 6.1 assists per contest will remain an issue. Darion Anderson was Garrett’s mate in the backcourt and the talented wing brought a ton of rebounding from the wing and a dynamic scoring attack. Jamie Vanderbeken was the big man who could shoot and open up space for the rest of the team. He wrapped up his collegiate career averaging 11.1 points per game and connecting on 42.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Calvin Godfrey rarely earned a start, but he was part of what was usually a pretty short bench and his ability to hit the glass and do the dirty work in the paint will be missed.
Even down a man, the four transfers sitting on the bench last year could have given the Cyclones starting five a pretty good game. Chris Allen, Chris Babb and Royce White join Iowa State via the Big Ten and Anthony Booker landed in Ames after a stint at Southern Illinois. Those are not just four transfers, but four big name transfers. Allen is a superb shooter who played a big part in getting Michigan State to two Final Fours. Babb is a 6-5 do-it-all wing who averaged 9.3 points at Penn State two years ago. White was a great get for Minnesota a couple years ago when they got the local product to stay home over offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin and USC, among others. Unfortunately for the Gophers, the 6-8, 250 pound forward never played for Minnesota and is now eligible for the Cyclones. He should be an immediate starter and a big time player in the Big 12 from day one. Booker is the unsung of the group of the Division I transfers, but the former Saluki is a tough rebounder and a decent interior scorer and shot blocker. At the least he will greatly improve the Cyclones interior defense. Along with all the transfers, Coach Hoiberg adds junior college shooting guard Tyrus McGee, who was a NJCAA All-American last year, center Percy Gibson and point guards Aaron Law and Tavon Sledge.
Who to Watch:
The big question is who can run the point. Scott Christopherson is back after shooting an impressive 44.1 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 13.7 points per game. He is a capable ball handler, but coming off of a season like that he would be more effective off the ball as a shooter. But that is the case with Allen as well. Christopherson may be best suited to run the point since he has more experience with the Cyclones, but this is a whole new group and whoever can run the show without turning the ball over should get the nod. There are plenty of other shooters out there who can take over if Christopherson’s numbers drop because he has to spend more time on the ball. The other option is sophomore Bubu Palo. The only other returning guard to see any significant playing time, Palo has the skill set to run the point, but it may be difficult to take Allen or Babb’s scoring out of the starting lineup.
Melvin Ejim may already have one of the wing spots wrapped up if Iowa State wants to play big. Ejim, at 6-6 and 215 pounds, is really a small forward, but he played at the four spot most of last season and had a great year, averaging 10.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. It is likely he will play at the four spot again this year with White playing at the five. However the positions get sorted out, this is a much, much more talented team then they were last year and a majority of the impact newcomers were practicing with the Cyclones all of last season so the transition should not be too tough. However, the questions at point guard are a concern and unless that sorts itself out, Iowa State will find themselves towards the bottom of the Big 12 standings for one more year.
Projected Postseason Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Scott Christopherson, Senior, Guard, 13.7 points per game
Chris Allen, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Chris Babb, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Melvin Ejim, Sophomore, Forward, 10.2 points per gamei
Royce White, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
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