It didn't take much for #14 Iowa State to lay waste to an overmatched Viterbo team in the Cyclones' exhibition opener on Friday night. Six players scored in double figures and only one starter played more than 20 minutes in ISU's lone pre-season tune up.
Fred Hoiberg's crew shot a blazing 60.3% from the field (41-68), bolstered by an equally blistering 56.5% clip from outside (13-23). Iowa State also controlled the rebounding by nearly a 2-to-1 edge (50-27), while also forcing 22 turnovers. Carrying over from what became a theme of last season, the efficient offense featured excellent ball movement as the team racked up 26 assists.
The eye-popping numbers don't stop there, but as impressive as this juggernaut was at times, it was all for naught. Yes this was a beneficial experience for guys like Bryce Dejean-Jones, Clayton Custer and Georgious Tsalmpouris, who were making their Cyclone debuts, but the real action begins next Friday as Iowa State hosts Oakland in the season opener. But that doesn't mean there weren't takeaways from this contest.
- With Abdel Nader and Matt Thomas serving the first of a three-game suspension and Jameel McKay sidelined by the NCAA until December 20th, The Mayor trotted out a starting five of Georges Niang, Dustin Hogue, Dejean-Jones, Naz Long and Monte Morris. The opening unit looked dominant and chemistry didn't appear to be an issue at all. In the first half, Hoiberg allowed this crew to play through the under-16 timeout before going to the bench and in the second half, the starters didn't leave the floor until closer to the 13-minute mark. The entire group looked in mid-season form and should have little trouble asserting their will against Oakland and Georgia State.
- Naturally, that leads us to the bench. As expected, Daniel Edozie and Sherron Dorsey-Walker were the first two guys off the bench. Hoiberg talked about a real opportunity for these two in the post-game show and both took advantage. Edozie was arguably the story of the game and was a monster at times on Friday night. He scored 14 points on 6-12 shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds. He also threw down an absolutely sick one-handed lob in the first half. The staff has talked about the work Edozie put in over the summer and it showed tonight. Dorsey-Walker gradually heated up over the course of the game, but once he got going, he showed that scoring touch that those of us who've watched him in the CCL have become familiar with. The redshirt sophomore shared the team lead with 17 points and knocked down 3-4 from 3-point range. Once Iowa State is at full strength, minutes might be tough to come by for these two, but both showed that they're not going to accept riding the pine willingly.
- Sticking with the bench, Iowa State's two freshmen played in Hilton Coliseum for the first time. Clayton Custer played a mostly steady 22 minutes, scoring 8 points and dishing out 4 assists. He's another guy that will get every opportunity to prove he belongs in the rotation during the non-conference slate. I liken his situation to Naz Long's as a freshman. You may recall that Long was the back up point guard during his freshman year, but after struggling through much of the non-conference schedule, was relegated to the bench and rarely played once the conference season started. We'll find out right away if Custer is going to be a factor. As for Tsalmpouris, he's going to need some seasoning. From a skill stand point, he's ready to play, but his body has a long way to go to be big-time college basketball ready. That being said, you can see why Hoiberg and the staff were so excited to sign him. He's capable of moving extremely well for his size and once his body and experience catches up to his skill set, he could become a very good player down the road.
- I found it interesting in the first half that Hoiberg pulled Niang and Morris from the floor, but didn't put Custer in the game to run the show. Instead, Long was given brief lead guard duties while he shared the back court with Dejean-Jones and Dorsey-Walker. Again, this was a very brief series, but I found it interesting nonetheless. As mentioned, Long came to Iowa State as a point guard and he's more than capable of toting the rock, but I wonder if this is something Hoiberg is experimenting with situationally, especially if Custer just isn't ready yet.
- I really liked what I saw out of Dejean-Jones tonight. The number one concern with him is going to be how he fits into this team. With a less than sterling reputation, he's going to have to prove his doubters wrong all season and at the first hint of straying from the pack, the message board proletariat likely won't be kind. That being said, the early returns look very promising. He played within the offense tonight, instinctively jumped passing lanes on defense and finished with some dazzling flushes at the rack. If he buys into this team and consistently plays hard and smart, it could make all of the difference for the entire outfit.
- Naz Long is still stupid-hot from outside. He knocked down 5-7 treys and shared the team scoring lead with Dorsey-Walker with 17 points.
- Perhaps the most important stat of the night is this: zero injuries. This was a relief, especially considering the last time we saw Niang in action, he hobbled off the court in Iowa State's NCAA Tournament win over North Carolina Central. And speaking of Niang, the rumors you heard are true. He threw down a two-handed dunk in transition. He also go stuffed by the rim later in the game, but hey, let's focus on the positives here. He only played 17 minutes, but was active defensively all while showing that familiar craftiness in the post.
As mentioned, Iowa State will tip off the action for real at home next Friday against Oakland at 7 PM CST. The game will be broadcast on Cyclones.TV and we will bring you plenty of coverage leading up to the game over the course of the next week.