Can you feel it? Basketball season is nearing. We know this to be true because Iowa State held its media day on Wednesday. It wasn't quite like Christmas morning, but seeing the gang all together and hearing The Mayor rave about what this team could be was like opening just that one present on Christmas Eve - exhilarating, but knowing that there's an even greater spectacle to come.
Once again, WRNL was not credentialed for the event, so we let intrepid reporters like Travis Hines from The Ames Tribune and Chris Williams from Cyclone Fanatic to name a few, do the heavy lifting. And don't you worry, 'ol Uncle Randy from The Des Moines Register was there too, undoubtedly creeping out the entire team.
We don't necessarily do "nuggets" or "tidbits" around here, but we have something called "The Mid Morning Dump" so in a WRNL first, here are a few of the more interesting droppings from yesterday's grand event.
Fred Hoiberg opened up media day with 20 divine minutes on the microphone. Somehow, the media types managed to take their eyes off the most handsome man alive and live Tweet during the remarks. Here's what found its way to the Twittersphere both from Hoiberg's comments and interviews with the players:
Iowa State freshman Georgios Tsalmpouris...even taller in person. #Cyclones pic.twitter.com/UEwhhEt0lY— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) October 1, 2014
And speaking of Georgios, he's well on his way to beefcake status:
Hoiberg: Tsalmpouris has already put on 20 pounds since he got on campus. That’s insane. #Cyclones— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) October 1, 2014
Brent Blum pointed this out:
Iowa State has chance this year to make 4 straight NCAA tournaments for first time in school history.— Brent Blum (@brentblum) October 1, 2014
Expected, but still kind of a bummer:
Abdel Nader and Matt Thomas suspended for Iowa State's first two games http://t.co/x72K80ujZd— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) October 1, 2014
Hoiberg said today he hopes to play faster than his team did a year ago. ISU ranked eighth in average offensive possession length last year.— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) October 1, 2014
Bryce Dejean Jones = DeAndre Kane? Yeah, get used to hearing that every game:
"DeAndre came here & had a great year ... If that’s what you’re looking for from me, that’s what I’m coming here looking to do also." — BDJ— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) October 1, 2014
Want to play? Better earn it:
Naz Long on Iowa State’s practices so far: "It is a complete battlefield." #Cyclones— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) October 1, 2014
Travis Hines got this gem from Jameel McKay, which is the equivalent of CYalis:
Jameel McKay: "I feel like with the talent we have, if we get the chemistry to the level it was last year, Final Four."— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) October 2, 2014
Monte Morris isn't shying away from bold predictions either:
Monte Morris: "Indy. That's where we want to get to."— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) October 2, 2014
- In reading various stories and Tweets, I found it interesting that Hoiberg noted that Dustin Hogue had arguably the most impressive off-season of anyone on the team. With returning studs like Niang and Morris and high-profile transfers like Dejean-Jones and McKay, it's easy for Hogue to get lost in the shuffle, but let's not forget Hogue led the Big 12 in rebounding last year and put up 34 points on UConn in the Sweet 16.
- When asked about leadership, Hoiberg was quick to point out Georges Niang and Naz Long, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but he also mentioned that Matt Thomas was a "vocal leader" which I did find surprising. Thomas often struggled with the speed of the game as a freshman, but he still managed to make heady plays even when his shot wasn't falling. If Thomas is dialed in as a sophomore, watch out.
- What's keeping Iowa State from winning a conference championship (regular season)? According to Hoiberg, it's simply winning on the road.
- Niang had nearly a 30% usage rate last year and now with a trimmed-down physique, look for the all-American candidate to spend some more time on the perimeter where he could have the ball in his hands even more...which is a good thing because, well, he's really good.
- When talking about Abdel Nader, Hoiberg said the Northern Illinois transfer "can flat out score". I was blown away by how physically impressive and gifted Nader was while watching him last summer in the Capitol City League. Hearing that he isn't just a summer-league wonder was a nice affirmation of what many saw in June and July.
- The Mayor loves the depth on this team and that seemed to be a theme throughout the day. This team can legitimately go 12-deep (that's what she said). He expects guys like Tsalmpouris and Clayton Custer to make an impact and said Custer is "cut from the same cloth as Monte (Morris)". Given how well Morris played as a freshman, that's awfully high praise for Custer.
- Speaking of depth, as mentioned previously, with Nader and Thomas missing the first two regular season games and McKay not being eligible until December 20th, the Cyclones' depth will be tested early. To open the year in those first two games, I'd guess that Niang, Hogue, Dejean-Jones, Long and Morris will start, but after that, things get a little iffy. Daniel Edozie played quality minutes last year and should be serviceable off the bench and Sherron Dorsey-Walker saw spot action throughout the year, but after that, it's Custer and Tsalmpouris off the bench before you start looking at the walk-ons. Missing Nader, Thomas and McKay likely won't matter in the opener against Oakland, but Georgia State is projected to be one of the best mid-majors in college basketball this year and could be a very tough out at home.
Here are some other links from yesterday's event:
-Cyclone Fanatic's Rob Gray talks about chemistry.
-Chris Williams has five takeaways from his time at media day.
-Uncle Randy talks about the depth and keeping everyone happy.
-If podcasts are your thing, here's Bobby La Gesse and Travis Hines from the Ames Tribune
Finally, here's a photo of what could end up being one the best teams in Iowa State history:
Your 2014-15 Cyclones. Are you ready? pic.twitter.com/JK67ZbwFfo— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneMBB) October 1, 2014