This Iowa State team has the best start in school history, 11-0, despite battles against ranked Michigan and Iowa teams and a tough road victory at BYU. Despite all the accolades, bench production needs to improve for this Iowa State team to have continued success in Big 12 play.
Dec 23, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; Akron Zips guard/forward Reggie McAdams (21) tries to dribble past Iowa State Cyclones guard Naz Long (15) during the first half of the NCAA basketball game at Stan Sheriff Center. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports
At the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, Iowa State only scored 12 total bench points in three games. Ten of those points came from sophomore guard Naz Long, who has been a surprise this season and has hit key shots in games against the likes of Michigan and Iowa.
Iowa State’s bench was not able to contribute in other ways on the court either. They were only able to contribute nine total rebounds throughout the tournament. In addition, only six total assists were contributed by the bench, five of which came in the semifinal game vs. Akron.
The bench was the most disappointing in the championship victory over Boise State. They tallied zero points, three rebounds, and zero assists. In comparison, the Broncos bench had 14 points, nine rebounds, and two assists.
Until recently, though, the Iowa State bench had tallied good numbers. Long has tallied double digit scoring totals in four games, Matt Thomas in five games, and Monte Morris in three games.
Through much of this season, Iowa State has been carried by the big four of DeAndre Kane, Dustin Hogue, Melvin Ejim, and Georges Niang.
For Iowa State to be successful in Big 12 play, having the bench step up will be of utmost importance. Perhaps Fred Hoiberg will adjust the starting lineup or rotation in hope of that leading to a greater production.
Perhaps more plays need to be called to better incorporate those under producing into the offense.
If the bench does not increase production, the remaining season of the highly ranked Cyclones will be disappointing, especially throughout the tough Big 12 schedule.