Iowa State’s football camp will begin next Monday in Ames. Football season is officially here!
Consider this a final look at basketball’s offseason, as I recently asked Fred Hoiberg about a handful of individuals on his 2014-15 roster.
CF: What were Georges Niang’s goals in the offseason? What does he need to do to be better as a junior?
Hoiberg: The biggest thing was continuing to work on his body and conditioning. He made a positive out of a tough situation. He lost 15 pounds from the time that he went home back to Massachusetts to when he got back to campus. That shows the dedication that he has and I think he knows that this is his team next year. That was a big thing. When you look at what he has done, I think I can play him on the perimeter next year. I can play him at the three and play big lineups. Obviously he has played the five a lot in the past. He is very tough to guard for bigger players. The way that he got his body as finely tuned as it is will allow him to be a more versatile basketball player and play more positions.
CF: Comparing Bryce Dejean-Jones to DeAndre Kane is an easy thing for fans to do. Both are fifth-year guys. Both had checkered pasts. Is that a fair comparison?
Hoiberg: There will be an immediate comparison because of the fifth year eligible transfer. DeAndre has played with the ball in his hands a lot more than Bryce has. Bryce can really get it going from the perimeter. He can really shoot the ball. He is tough and strong, similar to how DeAndre was last year. There are some similarities but I would say that DeAndre is probably more of a lead guard. Bryce is probably going to be used more off the ball.
CF: Jameel McKay is an interesting prospect. Granted, he will miss the first half of the season but what kind of an impact are you expecting from the Marquette transfer?
Hoiberg: Jameel will have an immediate impact just because of his motor and his ability to run the floor and protect the rim. Plus, I think he can give us something on the offensive end. He can flatten the floor with his ability to get to the rim. That’s cause and effect. It gets the wings running and hopefully some transition threes out of it. He is extremely hard working. He is a kid who can’t wait to get out on the floor but he will be rusty. He hasn’t played a competitive game in a year and a half. There will be some struggles with that but I think the immediate impact he will have is how hard he plays.
CF: Monte Morris was ridiculous as a true freshman. How do you expect him to be better in year No. 2?
Hoiberg: Anytime that you come in, you are wide-eyed when you step on campus for the first time. It takes you a little while to get used to the terminology with the college game compared to high school. Obviously there is a jump in competition but he couldn’t have handled it any better. At the end of the year I couldn’t keep him off the court because of all of the different things that he did for our team. He made shots at a very high rate. He took care of the basketball for us and he’s not a guy who went out and made safe plays either. He was throwing lobs and that pass he made against NC-Central, he just threaded the needle. He makes those plays look easy. He is a guy who brings everybody together and he is a terrific defender not only on the ball but as a help guy. I think he can be as good as any point guard in our league next year.
CF: Matt Thomas’ freshman year was an interesting one. Statistically, he had one of the best freshman seasons shooting the ball as anybody in school history. Still, his confidence was shaken at points during the season. Do you expect him to be better as a sophomore just because he has been around the block?
Hoiberg: Matt was thrown into a huge role last year as a starter and had some great games. There is no way we beat BYU without him. He had four threes in the first half against Kansas State. He was critical down at Oklahoma State in that triple-overtime win. He hit a couple in the tournament that we huge that helped us win. The experience of what he did by making the second most threes by a freshman in school history, still when you look at it he wasn’t happy with how he shot the ball. But I thought it was a very productive year for Matt. The biggest thing is that Matt when from playing a 2/3 zone his entire high school career to playing basically man-to-man every possession. That’s not easy when you make that jump. Now you can just tell how much more comfortable he is. I think with that comfort level comes less thinking. When you are a shooter, you don’t want to have that where you are thinking so much. He has really been fun to be around. His focus is off the charts and I do anticipate him having a great sophomore year.