Williams: What losing Bubu means for the 2013-14 Cyclones

AMES — Talk about a major story that got no play whatsoever because of timing…

About two hours prior to kickoff of the 2013 Iowa State football season, a university press release was issued that stated senior point guard Bubu Palo had been kicked off of the men’s basketball team.

The only thing that can bury a story of this magnitude is Iowa State losing to Northern Iowa in football.

Oh wait…

Iowa State likely just lost its starting point guard for the 2013-14 hoops season – part of it at least. This is a big deal. 

Why did Palo get booted exactly? You can read the release for yourself and make your own judgment. Specifics are hard to find but the timeline is clear. Iowa State did what it had to do, when it had to do it. For one reason or another (Palo was found to be in violation of the Iowa State University Office of Judicial Affairs’ (OJA) Student Code of Conduct), Palo is gone.

What does that mean for the program?

As I have already stated, in my opinion, Fred Hoiberg just lost his starting point guard, for the start of the season at least (an argument can be made that a guy like Monte Morris could have eventually won the job after getting his feet wet early on). 

Palo’s modest statistics (3.4 points per game) from the first three years of his career might not pop out at you (nor should they) but here is something that should: experience. That’s what makes this a gut-punch for the program.  

Fact: Palo was never going to lead this team in scoring or 3-point percentage.

Fact: Over the last three years, Palo has proven to be a legitimate Big 12 defender and a guy who Hoiberg credits for having a “soothing effect” on his team.

DeAndre Kane should be pretty good, but he’s never balled at this level. He’s a Big 12 caliber player but one that you trust can lead Iowa State back to its third straight NCAA Tournament? That’s the hope but there are no guarantees. 

Monte Morris is a true freshman, a talented one, but a true freshman. A rookie. Again, more questions. 

Add all of this up and sophomore Naz Long might have just become one of the most important players on Iowa State’s roster.  

What really stinks…

… Is that (the way I understand it) because the 2013-14 academic year has already begun, Palo’s scholarship will count against the program this season (unless there is some way around this that I am not aware of at this time). Had this ruling been official six months ago, you would likely still see Richard Amardi (now at Oregon) on Iowa State’s roster (just an assumption there).

Iowa State will compete this season with 11 eligible scholarship players. The Palo scholarship and Abdel Nader’s will not be used on the court. 

Projected starters

Before all of this went down, I had Palo starting at the one with DeAndre Kane at the two (while playing some point when Palo wasn’t on the floor), Matt Thomas at the three, with the Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim combo down low.

Now, you pretty much have to slide Kane over to the one, unless Naz Long has proven himself to be a Big 12 caliber point guard (he did look much-improved over the summer so that’s a positive). 

Who will slide into the starting lineup?

Perhaps Sherron Dorsey-Walker will be that man, but doubt it.

In a perfect world, Percy Gibson would be that man, which would allow Hoiberg to bring more size to the starting lineup. I just don’t see that happening though.

The best bet is Dustin Hogue, who is known more for his defense than anything. Hogue will bring another big body into the mix and should help with rebounding.

Final thought

There has always been some sort of weird Bubu battle on our board. There has always been Team Bubu, and Team We Hate Former Walk-ons. Regardless of what side of that argument you are on, you have to admit that Palo’s departure is anything but good. 

Perhaps I am wrong and Palo wouldn’t have started for Iowa State (I am confident that I’m not though). Perhaps Palo was simply going to be a role player next season. But even if that did turn out to be the case, that would be a seasoned role guy who knows how to play defense at a high level and has the respect of his teammates at the most critical position on the floor. 

Spin it how you want, but losing Palo is a significant setback as we lead up to the 2013-14 Iowa State basketball season.