By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
The Big 12 Conference held its annual summer basketball teleconference on Thursday morning. Below is the complete Q&A session from Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg’s time in the spotlight.
A lot of the guys on your team have pretty lengthy to do lists for the summer. Realistically, how much can a guy improve between now and when you get back from the Italy trip?
FH: Right now, our players are working out and they are being led by our seniors. They are very hungry, especially the guys who sat out last year. They really want to get the season started off on the right foot. They’ve been working hard. They’ve been getting workouts with our strength coach in. They are ready to get back out there on the floor. It was very difficult for those four guys to sit out last season. They want to hit the ground running here. They want to play and get their timing back and play a lot of pickup ball heading into our trip to Italy, which will be very beneficial for us. It gives us an opportunity to practice for 10 over the course of the summer and then play four games over in Italy and be able to bond and see what this group can do. I’ve got some questions. We are obviously going to have to fill a big hole at the point guard spot with Diante Garrett leaving. At least some of those questions will be answered in that trip to Italy, about who is going to replace Diante. Who is going to be our ball handler? Who will be the go to player? We will be able to answer some of those questions heading into the season. It will be a very beneficial summer for us.
Right now you guys have one open scholarship. Are you going to be able to use that or do you think you’ll bank it for next year’s class?
FH: We are exploring some different options right now. I don’t know right now to answer your question. It is hard to say but we are looking at some different options. We will see how it plays out.
Have you gotten to know Lon Kruger at all over the years?
FH: I played golf with him twice last week so I got to know him on the golf course. I got to know Lon from our days in the NBA. I talked to him and played against his teams up there. First and foremost, he is a wonderful person. He’s very competitive. I saw that last week. He is great for our league. He brings that experience. He is a great coach. He is a guy who I know I will be able to bounce questions off of, still being new in this process.
Can you discuss some of the candidates at point guard who might be able to replace Diante and how this thing could shuffle out?
FH: We have Tyrus McGee coming in who played last year for Cowley Community College in Arkansas City, Kan. He is a great shooter. He made 119 3-pointers in 31 games last year. He is a tough kid who I really think can guard the point guard spot and create some havoc on that end of the court. It is going to be interesting to see how his game translates to the next level. He was a first team All-American junior college player. I think that he has the toughness to play that position. From talking to his coach and watching him play last year, he has tremendous leadership ability as well. I see him coming in and making an immediate impact at that position.
Another player who has just taken off this spring is a freshman, Tavon Sledge. He has had an unbelievable spring, playing in different all-star and AAU events. He has a chance to come in here and compete for that spot as well. He is only about 5-foot-9 but he is as fast with the ball as anybody I have seen. The way that we play where we really want to get the ball up and down the floor, we have shooters who will run the lanes this year with Chris Allen, Scott Christopherson and Chris Babb. Tyrus McGee will play some 2. His ability to get the ball up and down the floor will really fit our system.
I think that Chris Allen is a guy who we can put the ball in his hands. He played that role with the scout team last year. which was the year he sat out. I would be very comfortable with him bringing the ball up the floor.
The other guy is Royce White. He is a terrific ball handler for his size. You can play some unique lineups with the personnel that we’ll have this year. I’m not afraid to play a little different. You have your forward bring the ball up the floor and just run some different sets with that.
Your guys played so hard last year. For the guys who sat out, did they see that and will that translate over to this year or do we need to wait and see how they react?
FH: I know that they are going to play hard. I don’t have any question about that. The great thing about that group is how they adapted to their roles of preparing the guys who were going out and playing every night and getting them ready for games. They accepted it. They were good at it. All of those practices were their games. They competed every day and got our guys ready. I have no doubt about that. They didn’t like sitting out last year. They saw how many close games we had. I’ve told them that their big thing is to learn from it and to talk about it. They watched a lot of games together last year. They are going to be ready.
The one thing that you’re not sure how it will go is that some of these guys like Royce White, hasn’t played a game in two years. These guys sat out all of last year. I hope that our fans stick with these guys, especially with Royce. He is going to have to get that timing back. You can practice as much as you want, but nothing compares to game experience. It is going to take some time. That’s where that Italy trip will be so beneficial for us. Those guys will be able to play some games and get back into that rhythm of game situations.