By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
The Iowa State men’s basketball team will officially begin practice for the upcoming 2011-12 season on Friday. Wednesday was media day in Ames.
Below is everything that you need to know from head coach Fred Hoiberg’s press conference.
THE PG SITUATION: As expected, it didn’t take long for somebody to ask Hoiberg about Iowa State’s situation at point guard heading into the season. Who’s your point guard coach? Hoiberg was quick and honest with his response.
“I don’t know," Hoiberg said. “That’s obviously the biggest thing that we are going to have to replace.”
Get used to hearing the words "point guard by committee" Cyclone Nation.
With an anticipated starting lineup of Scott Christopherson, Chris Allen, Chris Babb, Melvin Ejim and Royce White, there isn’t a true point guard in that group.
"But there are guys who are capable with Royce being a big part of that at 6-foot-8 and his ability to handle against pressure is a pretty special talent to have," said Hoiberg. “Chris Allen played some spotty minutes at the point at Michigan State. Scotty is a guy who can get us into our offense at times and we have some guys on our bench with Tyrus (McGee) and Tavon (Sledge). Bubu (Palo) is a guy who can do that.”
EXPECTATIONS: According to our front page poll at CycloneFanatic.com, 84 percent of the Cyclone Nation is expecting this year’s team to make the NCAA Tournament. Those are some lofty expectations for a program that hasn’t danced since 2005.
"We had zero expectations last season. Some of that was with what we had returning in only three scholarship players and a bunch of young guys coming into the program," Hoiberg said. "Expectations are high and that’s what we want. We want to be in a position where we are competing for Big 12 championships."
While fans are already planning March road trips, the national media isn’t buying in. Of the three major preseason publications that were recently released, Iowa State was picked to finish seventh, eighth and ninth in the Big 12.
Like many members of the national media, Hoiberg sees holes in his team.
"I understand some of that because we haven’t proven anything," said Hoiberg. "Royce White hasn’t played a game in two years. Chris Allen, Chris Babb and Anthony Booker haven’t played a game in over a year. I understand some of that."
=== JOTTINGS ===
*** Hoiberg said that he expects senior Scott Christopherson to assume a larger leadership role with this year’s team based off of "where he’s been and the fact that it is his senior year." Hoiberg also mentioned Allen and White in the leadership conversation.
*** Is there pressure on Hoiberg and his staff to win this season? Absolutely.
“There is pressure on all of us as coaches. You have to show that the program is on the right track.”
*** Expect the Cyclones to press more this season.
“We will pick up a lot more full court. We’ll throw some different types of traps in there at times. We want to get up and down the floor. I talked about that when I got the job, really getting up and down.”
=== QUOTEABLE ===
Fred Hoiberg on what he tells his team…
"It doesn’t matter how talented you are if you don’t have chemistry, you aren’t going to achieve your goals."
Fred Hoiberg on the competition in Italy…
“We rebounded very well in Italy but you five guys sitting in the front row are the size of guys we were playing against.”
— Note that I was one of those five guys in the front row. Watch it coach!
Fred Hoiberg on the physical nature of the Big 12…
“Every time that you suit up against a Big 12 opponent, guess what? They’re coming after you. They are going to hit you in the back of the head and they’re not going to care about it. If you can’t block them out, you’re going to be on Sports Center getting dunked on.”
Fred Hoiberg on all of the options he’ll have this season…
“We’ll play big. We can play small. Last year, it was pretty much, this is who we are. We are going to play this lineup most of the time for 35 minutes a night.”