By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Like everybody else with a pulse, I pulled Iowa State men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg aside during media day festivities in Ames on Wednesday. Here are some quotes from "The Mayor" that you won’t find anywhere else.
CF: I’ve been reading a lot about what’s going on with the NBA lately. Is there a chance that the college game could be a spike on the national level if the NBA misses its season?
FH: It sounds like they are going to fill the gap with missed NBA games with more college games on ESPN. I do think that people who are basketball enthusiasts will spend more time now trying to get their fix whether if it is D-League or college ball. Hopefully they get it done and there is NBA basketball again soon. In the meantime, college will play a big role in helping people get their fix.
CF: They haven’t all played a lot of ball, but you have a lot of older guys on your roster this season. How have the two young freshmen Percy Gibson and Tavon Sledged mixed in with the older guys?
FH: Offensively, Percy has got as good of touch around the basket as I’ve seen from someone that age. He’s crafty inside and we’re going to need that. We’re going to need someone to get the attention in the paint to free up our shooters. He is a guy who I think can definitely do that. He’s got some work to do on the defensive end but all freshmen do coming into this situation for the first time. I’m excited about his size. He’s 6-foot-9, 240-pounds and he’s long with a great frame. He’s already made strides. When I look at him in the weight room from his testing when he got here to where he is now. He’s shown a willingness to work as well.
Tavon is extremely fast, maybe to the point where he needs to slow himself down and survey things before he gets too far ahead of himself. With the way we play and his ability and quickness, he’ll have an opportunity to get out there as well. Plus, it’s a positional need. We will need somebody to handle the ball and get us into an offense. He has that ability.
CF: So much attention is paid to offense and scoring points. When your program at Iowa State is running exactly the way you want it to be, if it is this year or in three, what kind of defense will Iowa State basketball be known for?
FH: We will change it up. Hopefully our bread and butter is pressure man-to-man defense. You’ll see us do some different things this year than we did last because of our depth. We need to make great strides in that area if we are going to win games in this conference. You can’t do what we did last year and be in the top half of the league. You make it too hard on yourself every night. We need to be a better rebounding team and we need to stay in front of our man better. I think that we will.
CF: I attended quite a few summer league games and I always came away amazed with how good of a passer Royce White is. Can you comment on that aspect of his game?
FH: I think that his best quality is being a passer. He is a very willing passer. He’s unselfish. He told me that he’d rather get an assist than a point. If he draws a double-team, he will find the open man. I promise you that. We’ll have to put him at different spots. We’ll put him at the perimeter with the ball in his hands. We’ll let him facilitate at the elbow some. We’ll put him on the block. The kid benched 185 28 times. That’s more than anybody did at the NBA Combine, I think ever. His strength is super-human. To have somebody with that size, that ability and that touch, it’s something I’ve never seen before.”