DALLAS — Good morning from the "Big D." Over the next week, this website will be flooded with content from the Big 12’s annual two-day media event that will unofficially kick off the 2014 season.
However before the onslaught of media day, fall camp and general football coverage hits your computer screens and mobile devices, Monday Musings is all hoops today. That’s because on Friday, I had the opportunity to speak with Fred Hoiberg, who is recovering well from a pacemaker replacement surgery that he endured last week.
The point of the interview was to chat with Iowa State’s head coach about the upcoming season for a preseason magazine assignment that I am working on. But of course, I took the opportunity to gain insight for Cyclone Fanatic as well (I’ll have more from the Hoiberg interview over the next few weeks).
The first question I asked Hoiberg was this: "There has been a lot of talk about this year’s team being more talented than last year’s group that went to the Sweet 16. Do you believe that and if so, why?”
In Hoiberg’s defense, I have never actually heard those words come from his mouth. A couple of members of his coaching staff have said it. Most of the players echoed that this summer in the Capital City League. Through conversations, I have learned that a good chunk of the media that covers Iowa State believes this to be the case too.
As expected, Hoiberg gave what I would refer to as a “cool” answer.
“I think it is hard to say at this point,” Hoiberg said. “The great thing about last year’s team was the toughness and the chemistry that was developed by that group. That is obviously the big question going into this year. We lose two great seniors in the Big 12 Player of the Year in Melvin Ejim and a guy who did everything for us in DeAndre Kane. So at this point to say that we are more talented than last year, I think is a little unfair.”
Unfair to last year’s team or the 2014-15 squad? Well, both.
The 2013-14 group was one of the best teams in Iowa State history. Bryce Dejean-Jones still needs to prove that he can fit in (He is scheduled to arrive in Ames today). Jameel McKay has yet to play a single minute of Division I basketball. It looks good right now, but we don’t know that Abdel Nader is a Big 12 player.
Of course, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. The good news is that Hoiberg sees something special in this group and the high expectations are there for a reason.
“I certainly like the dynamics of our group,” Hoiberg said. “I think that Monte Morris will have a much bigger role on this team offensively. Georges (Niang), last year, became our go-to guy. He has had a great summer and lost a lot of weight. He had a great camp with LeBron against some of the top players in the nation. The guys who we had sitting out certainly have a chance to have a major impact. With Bryce coming in as a transfer and Clayton (Custer), I really like what I have seen out of those guys. I think the one thing we will have more of this year than last is depth. As far as a talent upgrade, I don’t know yet. I just haven’t seen how these guys will come together. Bryce hasn’t even been on campus yet so it is a group that I really like. It has a lot of potential and it really just comes down to how well they come together.”
There you go. That came straight from the mouth of The Mayor.
Why we hired Rob Gray
I couldn’t be more excited about the news that our company announced last Friday, that Rob Gray has joined out team as a senior writer. Gray, a longtime newspaper veteran with the Des Moines Register and Cedar Rapids Gazette, has grown to be a close friend of mind over the years and I know that you Fanatics will thoroughly enjoy his work.
Why Rob? Why now?
To be honest, we weren’t really seeking out another full-time staff writer during the offseason. As I mentioned above, Rob and I are close friends and when I learned that this could be a possibility, I made it a priority to add him to the staff.
We want to be the best out there at what we do, and that happens to be unique coverage of Iowa State athletics. To do that, we needed more manpower. Other publications are now dedicating multiple reporters to the Cyclone beat for 365 days out of the year. Rob’s experience will allow us to compete with the big boys and in return, give you, the Fanatics, the best product possible.
That is our goal and in the coming weeks, I will be unveiling a few more cool surprises.
Folks who access the site via their cell pones will especially be pumped. As will avid listeners of the Cyclone Fanatic Podcast.
Big 12 Media Day Schedule
Here is a look at the Big 12s media days schedule for those interested.