Here we are, two games in, with the Fighting Camels of Campbell on the horizon. Iowa State sits at 2-0 after eviscerating Alabama A&M 98-40 on Monday night. It's tough to take much away from the Cyclone's first two contests, but here are some thoughts from the young season thus far.
As one of the degenerates that regularly attends the Capitol City League games, I knew right away that freshman F Georges Niang was a scorer. Sure he didn't look to be in the best shape and his athleticism is, how do I put this politely - less than spectacular, but he had it. What it is, I don't exactly know, but you could tell that Niang had the winning gene and a scorer's mentality. After two games in a Cyclone uniform, Niang is leading the Cyclones in scoring at 16 PPG and has been remarkably efficient. Niang is shooting 72.2% from the floor and is perfect 4-4 from three-point range. He's also pulling down 8.5 rebounds and has a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. I was somewhat concerned during the summer that he might have a little bull-in-a-China-shop aspect to his game, but I've been surprised thus far by his body control and footwork. The competition and athletes Niang sees over the next couple weeks are going to be much better, but through two games, I've been very impressed with Niang.
McGee or Babb?
Monday night was the final game of Chris Babb's three game suspension and he'll be back in uniform when Iowa State hosts Campbell on Sunday. Babb started all 34 games last season and likely will reclaim his starting role, but can you really blame Fred Hoiberg if he at least considers sticking with Tyrus McGee in the starting lineup? McGee has done a little of everything in his two games starting at off guard and looks poised for a fantastic senior season. His four steals and five made three pointers lead the team and his energy has been a constant spark for the Cyclones. I'm guessing that Babb will find his way back into the starting lineup, but McGee has arguably been Iowa State's best overall player thus far.
To say that Iowa State is dominating the glass through two games is a gross understatement. The Cyclones are straight butt-trouncing their opponents on the boards by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. In these two games, Iowa State is averaging 52.5 rebounds to their opponent's 28. The Cyclones have also pulled down 34 offensive rebounds thus far and six guys are averaging at least five rebounds. Obviously over time, those numbers will start to come down, but after a poor showing in the rebounds department in Iowa State's exhibition, this team appears to have taken it personally and made rebounding their number one priority.
Who are you Mr. Lucious?
Through two games, Korie Lucious has turned the ball over 12 times and has also taken a team-high ten three pointers, making only three. Lucious did improve on his 1-12, 7 turnover effort in the opener by posting 10 points and 5 assists on Monday night, but he still turned the ball over five times, including a few hair-pullout moments. Lucious' flashy style of play will make him an easy target when things aren't going well, but let's not panic. He showed at Michigan State that he's a competent distributor and racked up 239 assists to only 148 turnovers in his days in a Spartan uniform. There will be times when Lucious causes you to ignite a bonfire of profanities, resulting in your dog peeing on the carpet, but there will also be times when his dynamic play makes you reach for you phone and text all of your buddies the following message: OMG, did you just see what Lucious did?!?! He's clowin' on these fools, LOL!!! I've been pleased with how Lucious has directed the fast break and I think that is where he's at his best. It's nice to have that element to this team again.
Around the Big 12
It was a pretty lackluster opening weekend around the Big 12. Kansas and Oklahoma State struggled in their openers, but both should be fine going forward. West Virginia has the lone loss thus far, an 84-50 setback on Monday night to #19 Gonzaga. I stayed up and watched this game and while Gonzaga dominated from start to finish, I still think West Virginia is going to be in the thick of things throughout conference play. They're athletic, long and deep, but will struggle shooting from outside.
As I mentioned earlier, Iowa State hosts Campbell on Sunday evening. Game time is 6 PM and will be available for your viewing pleasure via Cyclones.tv. Campbell is 1-1 on the season, but just in case you forgot, they managed to spring this shocker on our rival brethren to the East last year.