Within every media day event is a cluster of "stuff" for coaches to do. Thankfully, I was able to get some close to alone time with Fred Hoiberg yesterday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Here are a few Iowa State men’s basketball nuggets with the unofficial season opener (an exhibition against Augustana) just over a week away.
DeAndre Kane is the anti-Korie Lucious
Now don’t get me wrong here. Lucious was legit and Iowa State would gladly take him for another season. But he also made Hoiberg want to pull his hair out during the non-conference portion of the 2012-13 campaign. This year’s point guard, 24-year old DeAndre Kane, apparently isn’t fond of behind-the-back passes and alley-oops.
“He’s making easy plays right now and with the amount of pick-and-roles we play and even though the other guys on our roster that have the ability to make a second play and get the ball to the second side,” Hoiberg said. “It’s been really good.”
Naz Long’s role will grow this season
To what extent? That is still the question. But Iowa State’s sophomore combo-guard has clearly left a positive impression on Hoiberg from a leadership standpoint that should earn him quite a few minutes this season.
“I think he is as good of a communicator as we have on the team,” Hoiberg said. "He can pull guys together. He knows how to approach guys differently. That’s a gift. Not a lot of guys have that ability. If something is going wrong, you might just go pound a guy but Naz understands the right way to talk and communicate with somebody and that is invaluable to have somebody like that on your team.”
Long, who saw action in 18 games as a freshman last season, has gotten better physically too.
“He is making shots right now and he can defend,” Hoiberg said. “I’ve got to get him to quit using his hands with the new rules but I think Naz will have a big role on this team.”
Long’s defensive ability will be critical to the amount of minutes he will play. Guys who make defense a priority are hard to find. Long just happens to be one of those guys. Add to that the fact that his offensive game has improved and the thought of Naz Long being Iowa State’s first or second guy off the bench isn’t crazy at all.
Depth will be important early on
There was so much talk of these new hand checking and block/charge rules yesterday that it made my head spin. But early on in the season, this is going to be a huge deal. It shouldn’t affect Iowa State too much in games one or two but when Michigan comes to town on Nov. 17, the Cyclones better be somewhat used to the new way that officials are going to call fouls. So far, that hasn’t been the case.
“We have had two inter-squad scrimmages where we have had Big 12 refs,” Hoiberg “I told them to call it tight. In one of our scrimmages we were in the double-bonus at the 10-minute mark.”
This is especially concerning for a team that has very little depth in the frontcourt. At the end of last season, Iowa State had a hard time of keeping Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang out of foul trouble.
“You’ve got to have some depth,” Hoiberg said. “Guys might not play one night but will play another because of foul trouble. This weekend will give us a good idea once we finally start to play other people but we will see.”
Iowa State will travel to Creighton for one of those "secret scrimmages" on Sunday.