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Basketball

MAILBAG: Next year’s basketball starting lineup

Happy Tuesday, you guys. By now, you know the drill.

Let’s start today’s mailbag with hoops and a three-pack of quality questions from ForeverIowan. 

ForeverIowan writes: Give us a way too early starting lineup prediction for our first conference game (Assuming Naz Long and Hallice Cooke have recovered).

CW:

PG:Monte Morris

SG: Naz Long

SF: Abdel Nader

PF: Georges Niang

C: Jameel McKay

Deonte Burton has the potential to jump in there but I’m banking on Nader improving quite a bit from last season. Hopefully for Fred Hoiberg, Nader will be that guy we saw glimpses of during the 2014-15 campaign. Burton is capable of being that guy though. He will be a solid “energy guy” off of the bench. I really like him in that role, actually. Plus, it will give Burton solid experience before having to step up and be one of the premier guys on the roster in 2016. 

I also think that if Naz has any struggles at all coming back from the hip surgery that Matt Thomas could start at the 2 early in the season. If that happens and he happens to gain any confidence at all, maybe Matt starts at the two and Naz plays more of a Tyrus McGee type of role as a senior? 

Having said that, Thomas has given us little to no reason at all the last two years to believe that he is capable of being that guy throughout the course of a long season. Let’s hope things are different during his junior year. 

Will the top five preseason ranking hold up heading into next year?

CW: Yeah, I think so. I guess I don’t see why not. Iowa State hasn’t had any defections and I don’t see anything happening over the next couple of months. If anything, the Cyclones will simply add depth to the roster. Most of the heavy hitters have signed elsewhere. I like Iowa State to be anywhere from 4-10 or so.

Chances we play at Kentucky next year? Like our chances?

CW: When I narrow down the Big 12/SEC Challenge field, I really like Iowa State’s chances. But when I talk to people, it makes me think that this isn’t going to happen.

It should. Who wants to see Kansas play Kentucky again? Iowa State has a larger national profile than Oklahoma. Iowa State is the no-brainer here, right? 

Still, I’ll only give a 30-40 percent chance based off of behind-the-scenes rumblings. Hopefully those guys are wrong because I’d love to see it. It sounds like this is more of an ESPN decision than anything.

Gunnerclone writes: On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest likelihood, how likely do you think each of these events are?

1) Undefeated non-con in football: I’d say that this is the second most likely of all of the topics that you listed. Iowa State should beat Northern Iowa (You’ve heard that before, right?). I think that Iowa State will beat Iowa at home. Then it comes down to a road game at Toledo where the Cyclones will probably be favored. I won’t go as far to say I am confident in this because really, what is there to be confident about. FINAL SCORE: 3.5

2) Undefeated non-con in basketball: Without having the schedule in front of me, this is difficult to do. I have been told though that this non-conference schedule will be the most challenging of the Hoiberg era. The Cincinnati game got added to the mix last week. This should be Fred’s best team too. FINAL SCORE: 3.

3) A 1,000-yard rusher or receiver in football: I’ll be very surprised if Iowa State has a 1,000-yard rusher. That just doesn’t happen around these parts anymore. Plus, it isn’t like the Cyclones have some dynamic back returning in 2015. None of the key guys have much experience at all. As for a receiver, well, the problem is that Iowa State has three really good ones that will compete heavily for yardage. FINAL SCORE: 2

4) Two Big 12 First Team basketball players: Now you’re speaking my language. I’m very confident that within the trio of Georges Niang, Monte Morris and Jameel McKay, two of the three will end up on the first team. FINAL SCORE: 4.5

5) Two wins in the conference in football: I’ll give the Cyclones Kansas at home, for sure. After that, it’s tough. Somehow, I think that they’ll be right at two league wins. FINAL SCORE: 2.5 

6) 14 wins in the conference in basketball: Hmm. 14-4 in the Big 12? It’s very possible but I wouldn’t call it likely either. My guess is that the league ends up being a lot like it has been the last two years where the winner isn’t even close to being unbeaten. FINAL SCORE: 3.0

Huntt26 writes: Who will be the next Cyclone to get picked in the NFL draft?

CW: Tough question…

I don’t know…

Quenton Bundrage has a shot.

I’m a believer in some of the younger guys in the program like Allen Lazard, Kamari Cotton-Moya and Jake Campos. Nigel Tribune, maybe. Daniel Burton could in a few years.

Cmjh10 writes: In your opinion, how did your team do in the draft?

CW: I’m a Vikings fan, for what it’s worth. I really wanted the men in purple to do something to help out Teddy Bridgwater in the first round but unfortunately, there wasn’t much left at 11 that would immediately do so. Instead, the Vikes chose to beef up the defense in the first and second rounds and I’m very happy with how it turned out. Trae Waynes is a stud and in my opinion, the best cornerback in the draft. The inside linebacker out of UCLA is a great fit with his former teammate Anthony Barr. Yes, I’m very happy.

ISUKyro writes: What is (if anything) a theme the football team is using for the year to drive theme to success? In the past it was “All-In,” stuff like that.

CW: I think this program is past the catchy marking phrases. It’s time for this group to win and I sense that the Cyclones feel the same way. To directly answer your question, I haven’t heard anything about a “theme” for the season. If I were to put on on it though, it’d be, "Just win."

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