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Basketball

Five things to watch for in ISU’s exhibition

AMES — Iowa State basketball is always fresh.

That’s because during Fred Hoiberg’s five years in Ames, we’ve always been able to count on the fact that 4-6 newcomers will arrive and be contributors the season they arrive. 

As a commentator who covers the program for a living, this keeps me on my toes. There is always a moving part. 

Add Hoiberg’s style of play (the cool kids call it “Hoiball” these days), a recent run to the Sweet 16 and football’s struggles (fans are craving something, anything to cheer about) to the equation and it’s easy to understand why Hilton Coliseum will be near its capacity for Iowa State’s only exhibition prior to the 2014-15 season. 

Hoops season is here (thank the Lord) and with that there will be plenty of ongoing storylines to watch for on Friday night and beyond. Here are five that I am especially interested in at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. 

Monte Morris 

Here is a guy who at the end of his freshmen season, Hoiberg said he could not afford to not have him on the floor. As a young whippersnapper, Monte Morris set an NCAA record with a 4.79 assist/turnover ratio last year and is set to play his first game in a Cyclone uniform without a rock solid Deandre Kane by his side. During theoffseason, the Flint, Mich. native talked often about how he wants to be more assertive as a sophomore and get back to being the aggressive leader that he was during a legendary high school career. Will the extra attention that he will receive this season affect the 41.6 percent 3-point shooting mark that he threw down a season ago? I know that Morris will be good as a sophomore but his job is about to change without one of the top guards in the country by his side. 

Exactly how versatile is Bryce Dejean-Jones? 

From a random poster on our forum to Hoiberg himself, the big question heading into this season is what Iowa State’s rotation will look like when competitive games begin. While I won’t put much stock into what we see during the exhibition, I am curious to see how Hoiberg will use UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones. During the offseason, Hoiberg has spoken about how Dejean-Jones is the best pure athlete that he’s ever coached. The 6-foot-6 combo is naturally a two but I’m curious as to how much he will be used at the three this season too. On the surface, Dejean-Jones appears to be the perfect fit with Hoiberg’s system that favors versatile players who can man multiple positions. 

Will Sherron Dorsey-Walker make the most of an opportunity? 

With Matt Thomas missing the exhibition (plus the first two games of the season) due to a suspension, Sherron Dorsey-Walker has an opportunity to turn some heads and he needs to take advantage of it. Right now, the sophomore out of Michigan appears to be on the outside looking in at the two-guard with Dejean-Jones, Naz Long and Thomas all being ahead of him. However, would impressive showings over the next two Fridays (including the season opener vs. Oakland) earn SDW more time in the future? Maybe not, but it wouldn’t hurt. This is a golden opportunity for Dorsey-Walker to finally show what he can do on a court at this level outside of the Capital City League. 

The Greek

We know that he loves American cheeseburgers but other than that, we really don’t know much about the 7-foot-1 forward/center out Iowa State signed last spring out of Greece. I’m super curious to see what Georgios Tsalmpouris looks like on the basketball floor in person with thousands of fans surrounding him. Along with Abdel Nader, I’d label Tsalmpouris as the biggest wildcard on this roster heading into the season. My guess is that Tsalmpouris is a project and will see his playing time dwindle the later the season gets (especially when Jameel McKay is eligible on Dec. 20), but the 7-foot-1 frame alone might be enough to keep him on the floor.

Atmosphere

I feel like Iowa State basketball is entering a new era this season. The reason being is because for the first time during Hoiberg’s tenure, Iowa State is nationally ranked entering the season. Expectations are at an all-time high. Tickets are nearly impossible to find this season and Hilton Coliseum will be electric.

With that, what are the chances that the lame Jock Jams will be gone (pretty, pretty please)?

Let’s wake up and join the year 2015, no?

If Iowa State put me in charge of this, here’s what I’d see the Cyclones be introduced to as tip-time nears. 

Thoughts?

See you in Hilton. Don’t forget your Clone Cone.