Defense still the focus in Central Michigan prep

By Chris Williams, Publisher Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams

It wasn’t a perfect outing, but the Iowa State basketball program took some major steps towards improving its team defense in last Friday’s 86-76 win over rival Iowa.

The Cyclones held the Hawkeyes to only 27 points and 38 percent field goal shooting in the first half of that game.

“We still have a ways to go with that but that first 20 minutes against Iowa was a great start. We did everything right that half," said head coach Fred Hoiberg. "Busting through screens. Guys were there helping each other when guys got picked off. Ball screen defense was very good. Overall effort was there. That’s what you have to have. If you’re going to be a solid defensive team, you have to have those things every single time you take the floor.”

Without having any games this past week due to finals, defense has once again been the focus for the Cyclones during conditioning based practices that come with the time off.

“We’ve been doing a lot of toughness drills," said junior Chris Babb. "A lot of defensive drills. A lot of rebounding drills. Just a lot of competitive stuff.”

Hoiberg recently called the Iowa win his team’s best all around performance of the early season. Still, the finals break came at a nice time for the Cyclones.

“It is a good opportunity to get back and practice on the things that we didn’t do well in that game against Iowa and build on the things that we did do well," said Hoiberg. "I like the practice time. It gives us a chance to condition these guys and really get after it. We had quite a few games there in a short stretch. This gives us some time to get back to basics.”

CENTRAL MICHIGAN’S STAR: The continued commitment to playing better defense is a good thing leading into Sunday’s date with Central Michigan. Even though the Chippewas are currently sitting on a 4-5 record (they will host UIC on Friday night), Central Michigan’s roster still consists of one player who can flat out score.

That man is Trey Zeigler, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who is currently averaging 17.9 points per game this season. Zeigler, the son of sixth-year Central Michigan head coach Ernie Zeigler, was the 28th ranked player in’s Class of 2010. Zeigler chose to play for his dad at Central Michigan over the likes of Michigan, Michigan State and UCLA to name a few.

“He can post up. He’s very good off of the dribble and he’s extremely strong at going to the basket," said Hoiberg. “He’s a load. He’s got a really good pull up game. Great strength.”

This will be a good test for the Cyclones, as Zeigler is a Big 12 caliber player. The Chippewas are a guard oriented basketball team. Along with Zeigler, Austin McBroom and Derek Jackson are averaging 11.4 and 10.9 points per game respectively.

The Chippewas lost to Minnesota by a 76-56 final on Tuesday night. Zeigler led Central Michigan with 19 points.