#21 Iowa State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Iowa State Cyclones

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #21
Conference Rank: #4 Big 12

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By any reasonable measure, the 2013-14 season was one of tremendous success for the Iowa State basketball program. Twenty-eight wins, a Big 12 tournament championship and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen where the Cyclones lost to the eventual national champion is nothing to sneeze at. However, it’s hard not to imagine what could have been if Georges Niang hadn’t gotten hurt during the NCAA Tournament. Down one of their top three players and arguably their very best player, ISU still took eventual-champion Connecticut right down to the wire. This season, with a reloaded cast and Niang back, Iowa State will look to go even further.

2013-14 Record: 28-8, 11-7
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Fred Hoiberg
Coach Record: 90-47 at Iowa State, 90-47 overall

Who’s Out:
The problem with collegiate athletics is nothing ever lasts long enough to run it back one more time. It would have been so exciting to see the Cyclones return in 2014-15 with their top three players back and healthy for another run. Instead, Niang is the only one with eligibility remaining. Both Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane have departed Ames, Iowa. Ejim was the Big 12 conference Player of the Year last season and ISU’s leading scorer and rebounder. For a small forward, he dominated the paint in every way other than blocking shots. He was certainly a unique player, although even harder to replicate may be what Kane brought to this team. DeAndre Kane, the 6-4 point guard, averaged 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting over 48 percent from the floor. He was the definition of a do-everything guard. While Iowa State’s roster for this season is extensive, it will be extremely hard to replace what these two players produced on a night-to-night basis.

Who’s In:
Fortunately, Coach Fred Hoiberg brought in a number of possible replacements, hoping a few of them stick. The freshmen recruit market was fine; nothing out of the ordinary. But the transfer market was busy busy! Hoiberg has three big-time transfer students who will be eligible this season and a fourth ready for next year. Bryce Dejean-Jones is coming over from UNLV. The once highly touted recruit averaged double figures each of his two seasons at UNLV but didn’t mesh there. He sure fits the DeAndre Kane mold though as a 6-6 guard who can pass and rebound. The other transfers should all be factors as well: Hallice Cooke from Oregon State will sit out this season, Jameel McKay from junior college via Marquette will sit out fall semester, and Abdel Nader from NIU will be good to go from day one. Throw in a pair of interesting freshmen in four-star guard Clayton Custer and 7-1 Greek center Georgios Tslampouris, and the Cyclones will have a number of new bodies ready to contribute to a team with Final Four aspirations.

Who to Watch:
The interesting thing here is that Coach Hoiberg has added half a dozen new players to his roster that was already returning a number of guys from last season ready to grab more minutes. Georges Niang is the exception. He’s the star that is coming back to lead this club and will garner as many minutes as he can muster. However, there is a quartet of players who all played between 20 and 29 minutes a night last season and will be yearning for an uptick. Senior Dustin Hogue was like a poor man’s Melvin Ejim last season. He tied for the team lead in rebounds and shot over 57 percent from the floor as a 6-6 forward that can’t protect the rim. He could slide right into the Ejim hole. Naz Long and Matt Thomas were the beneficiaries of a team that was the best in the country at sharing the ball and were part of the reason that ISU finished near the top of the nation in scoring. And sophomore Monte Morris may be the best of the bunch. At 6-2 he’s actually undersized for what the Cyclones have been trotting out at the guard position, but Morris was first on this team in steals and second in assists in around 28 minutes per contest.

Final Projection:
It will be a juggling act for Coach Hoiberg to settle on his rotation and his minute allotment. Last year he had a solid and unwavering seven-man rotation. Seven guys saw at least 20 minutes of action a night, and no one else sniffed more than two TV timeouts worth of playing time. For 2014-15, five of those seven rotation players return, and at least four or five more guys will be clambering for consistent minutes. A lot will depend on how certain players gel obviously. The freshmen and transfer guys will have a system to learn and new teammates to get to know. Playing too many men seems to bite coaches in the long run as there comes a time when he needs to know who he can rely on in big spots and in crunch time. Of course, it might take four total players to replace the production lost by Ejim and Kane graduating. An NCAA Tournament berth is the baseline projection here. If the Cyclones can advance further than last season, it will be because of the maturation and improvement from some of these current role players.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Monte Morris, Sophomore, Guard, 6.8 points per game
Bryce Dejean-Jones, Senior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Georges Niang, Junior, Forward, 16.7 points per game
Dustin Hogue, Senior, Forward, 11.6 points per game
Daniel Edozie, Senior, Forward, 1.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 83.0 (5th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 74.4 (283, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.4 (29, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (94, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.4 (22, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.8 (104, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.3 (188, 7)
Rebound Margin: 1.6 (133, 5)
Assists Per Game: 18.4 (1, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.6 (37, 3)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#71 Bryce Dejean-Jones

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#115 Clayton Custer


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