Iowa State basketball: Five takeaways from the season so far


With the regular season just under one-third complete, I thought it might be a good time to evaluate Iowa State basketball based on their 8-1 start so far this season.

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1. The transfers are as good as advertised.

Everybody knew Bryce Dejean-Jones was going to be a contender and he has delivered. BDJ is currently second on the team in scoring at 17.1 ppg and leading in boards at 6.9 rpg. He is also shooting exceedingly well and playing solid defense everywhere. His behavior cost him the Iowa game, but Fred Hoiberg hasn’t had a major issue with a transfer yet. So don’t worry.

Abdel Nader is coming along nicely thanks to his break-out game at Iowa and will continue to improve. And don’t look now, but Jameel McKay is eligible in less than one week for the game against Drake. His size, tenacity, and shot-blocking prowess could propel the team into scary-good territory.

2. The returnees are still the best around.

The transfers are always nice, but the incumbents are still the core of Iowa State. Georges Niang is maintaining his campaign for the Naismith Player of the Year award with 17.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 4.6 apg while also shooting well from all areas of the court. Naz Long continues to shoot daggers from range. Monte Morris is rolling along with a +6.5 assist-to-turnover ratio, and Dustin Hogue and Matt Thomas are doing perfectly fine in their roles. So far it has been full-steam ahead for the roster as a whole.

Dec 14, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa States Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg looks on against the Southern Jaguars during the 1st half at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

3. There are still issues.

Defense and rebounding haven’t been bad. In fact, the Cyclones outrebounded Iowa in Iowa City and have played terrific D on most teams’ best players this season. There are still lapses at times and the pace at which the team plays just isn’t conducive to prolonged defensive play.

4. The young players will be fine.

A lot was made out of Clayton Custer, Georgios Tsalmpouris, and the rest of the younger players. There was even talk of going 10-deep at times, which hasn’t materialized in favor or a more traditional eight-man rotation.

The few minutes given to the next generation have been fine, if unspectacular, but they are learning from one of the most talented squads and coaching staffs in the country. They will be something to watch in years to come.

5. ISU might be the most complete Big 12 team to this point.

This is my bold observation to this juncture. The conference has been rolling this nonconference season winning over 80 percent of its games, but appearances are slightly deceiving.

Texas and Kansas are both dealing with critical injuries to guards. Oklahoma and Kansas State are radically underperforming for some reason, and the rest have largely played few teams that made the postseason last year or will this year. It’s still early and conference play could change everything, but this might be the year for ISU to dethrone the Kansas Jayhawks for the regular season crown.

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