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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Here is more afternoon reading to get you set for Iowa State’s NCAA Tournament second-round game vs. N.C. Central. Yesterday, I caught up with Iowa State assistant coach Cornell Mann to discuss Monte Morris, team defense and scouting N.C. Central.
CF: What was the key in Monte Morris becoming the defender that he is today?
CM:I think like anything else, he had to get himself acclimated to positioning his body and timing and everything. When you are playing against more athletic, quicker and smarter players, you have to get acclimated to the speed of things. The way we play ball screens, we push you down to the sideline instead of getting hedges and those things so it’s just different. He earned the right to a learning curve but he did do it quickly. He is a student of the game. He watches basketball all of the time. The way he watches it, he watches it like a coach. It allows him to learn those things just a little bit quicker.
CF: I remember last year in Dayton I interviewed you about Monte because you guys had just signed him. You were excited then. Did you have any idea that his assist/turnover ratio and what he’s been able to do defensively was coming?
CM: The assist to turnover ratio, no. The fact that he is a winner, yes. I thought that he would be able to help us win. He came from a really good high school program and his coach was really good in terms of defense. He was really hard on him. I felt like he would be able to come in and contribute and help us win. Offensively at that level, I don’t think anybody would have thought that. But I definitely did think that he was going to come in and help us win.
CF: Where has this team made the biggest growth over the past year defensively in your mind?
CM:We have some guys who understand what we are trying to do. I think that our defensive IQ is really good. The addition of Doc has been great. When I came here, I was the defensive guy. Of course, I think I am pretty good but I also know that Doc is really good. He brings a whole other level of experience. What we did is we added some things. We took away some things and ultimately came out with an unbelievable style of play defensively, especially for the number of guys we play. I am used to playing a few more guys and you can do different things when you do that. We are not playing that many guys so we scaled it down some. I think it is awesome and just as much as I thought I knew, I am learning just like everybody else. It is an ever learning process.
CF: Give me a scouting report on this N.C. Central team. What is key going into the game defensively?
CM:Personnel is important. Ingram is the first option. Here is the thing that I notice. Every time that they come down, he is that first option. Chapman and Houston become very aggressive when he is not in. They become very aggressive. Once the clock gets to a point of an initial reaction, if it is Chapman or Ingram, that that shot is going up. They did whatever they were going to do and now it is really time to score. They work the clock. They walk the ball. The thing that we have to do is keep them off the glass. We can not allow them three or four chances offensively because they are going to run the clock. We want to run. They are going to walk the ball up the floor. They are very efficient with what they do.