To preview the Baylor - Iowa State basketball game Monday night, we've brought in "CanAzn", who is part of a great team of writers covering the Cyclones at Wide Right And Natty Lite.
1) Under Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State seems to have returned as a basketball power by attracting transfers from all over the country. How has he been able to integrate so many players on second chances into a cohesive team and is this a formula for long-term success?
Fred has said that he approaches the transfers just like the recruitment process. He looks at kids' backgrounds and talks to their former college and high school coaches to figure out if the kid is capable of being re-coached into a new system, so to speak. He has also mentioned that this is not a plan for the future, as he would prefer players to experience all four years in Ames as he did when he played for Iowa State, but it was the quickest way to make the Cyclones an attractive destination after the last half decade of bad basketball. Another advantage of having all of the transfers from a year ago come in together means that they were able to gel as a group together all of last year. Of course, success in practice doesn't immediately transfer to results on the court, so it has taken a while to completely mesh, as evidenced by the early season losses to UNI, Drake and Michigan.
2) Royce White is leading the team in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and assists. How is he such a versatile player and what do you think his ceiling is?
Royce seems to be blessed with the vision of a point guard but grew into a power forward's body. At least once a game he will throw a pass that will make you wonder how anyone could have saw the open man. He still shows weakness with his mid-range/outside game, and sometimes forces the play, and almost every ISU fan is well versed in his free throw struggles. His opportunity to become completely dominant and succeed in the NBA lies in the development of a mid-range game and an improvement in free throw shooting. His ceiling is probably a Kevin Love type, but he has a ways to go.
3) Where is Iowa State on the bubble right now and what do they need to do over the next month to ensure they're playing in March?
Recent projections have Iowa State somewhere around a 10 seed and I imagine it should stay that way barring a major upset of Missouri, a sweep of Baylor, or a crippling home less to Texas Tech or Oklahoma. Including the tournament, 21 wins SHOULD get the Cyclones in, 22 wins would be a guarantee.
4) Baylor plays a 1-3-1 zone defensively while Iowa State takes a lot of 3's, how big a problem do you think this might be in Monday's game for the Bears?
The 1-3-1 has weak spots in the corners and in the lane close to the basket, two areas Iowa State can be lethal. Iowa State can send any of Anthony Booker, Chris Allen, Chris Babb, Scott Christopherson, and Tyrus McGee to the corners and have major threats from beyond the arc. Couple that with Iowa State's willingness recently to make the extra pass to make a good shot a great shot and that can kill a zone (much like Missouri did).
With someone like Royce White who is strong with the ball and tall enough to pass through a double team, he presents another option of sitting at the elbow and distributing. While he makes some ill-advised passes, more often than not he's going to make you pay even if it becomes a hockey assist for Royce. A double team will break part of the zone and Royce has a knock for finding that open guy. Letting Royce drive between the wings will lead to the bottom guy being stuck in a 1-on-1 in a battle Royce is going to win the majority of the time.
5) How did Iowa State lose both Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott (an All-American candidate at Creighton) years ago when both guys grew up in Ames and do you think that would have happened if Hoiberg was in charge?
Iowa State heavily recruited Harrison Barnes from the time he was a freshman, and one has to think even a mediocre level of success would have made him think long and hard about staying in Ames, but I can't fault him for not wanting to stay to partake in what he saw. Would Fred Hoiberg have gotten us to a point where he would have come here?
We'll never know, but just based on his first two years compared to McDermott's, I'd say so.The recruitment of Doug McDermott, on the other hand, is really the epitome of what was wrong with the Greg McDermott era at ISU. Greg was quoted as saying he didn't even want to recruit his own son because he was quoted as saying he didn't like the "culture he had created". This is all while McDermott recruited players like Wes Eikmeier, Clinton Mann, L.A. Pomlee and others who, no offense to them, were just not cut out to play BCS conference basketball.
If you can recruit these type of guys while also overlooking your own son's talent, that says everything about you as a talent evaluator, and ultimately, head coach.