Exhibition Preview: PG play & rebounding are top storylines

Chris Williams

Publisher

By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams

Hoops is here.

The Iowa State men's basketball team will showcase its 2011-12 roster on Sunday in an exhibition game vs. Grand Valley State at 12:30 inside of Hilton Coliseum.

Here are a few storylines to watch for...

POINT GUARD: Who plays it? During his meeting with the media on Thursday afternoon, head coach Fred Hoiberg specifically noted that senior sharpshooter Scott Christopherson has done well directing traffic for the Cyclones during the last couple weeks of practice.

“Scotty has done a really nice job for us as far as getting us into an offense," said Hoiberg. "He has really bought into that role. I’ve been very happy with what Scott has done with that first group handling the ball.”

While Christopherson very well be the man who takes the majority of reps at point guard on Sunday for Iowa State, don't think for a minute that he's the only guy for the job this season. Iowa State is still very much a team in which the plan is to go "point guard by committee."

"Royce (White) has taken some (reps)," said Hoiberg. "He’ll bring it down some. Tavon (Sledge) has had reps at the one."

Chris Allen, Tyrus McGee and Bubu Palo will likely be in the mix as well.

As far as point guard play and Iowa State goes, stay tuned. This will likely be the case for a while for every role on this year's Cyclone basketball team.

“Some guys are starting to show who is going to get shots, who our go to guy is, who will bring it up against pressure…But no. It’s (the rotation) not set right now," said Hoiberg. "It will be a big thing on Sunday, for guys to step up. We have five days of practice leading into the Lehigh game.”

REBOUNDING: While coaches and players can't specifically talk about last Sunday's "secret scrimmage" against  Nebraska, it isn't difficult to gather information that the Cyclones struggled rebounding against Doc Sadler's Cornhuskers.

“We definitely learned some things that we have to work on," said sophomore forward Royce White. "They are some things that we already knew that we needed to work on. I think that we’ve made some great strides since that scrimmage to correct some of those issues.”

With an anticipated starting five of White, Melvin Ejim, Allen, Christopherson and Chris Babb, the Cyclones will be a lot of things this season, but big isn't one of them.

“We are definitely going to have to gang rebound," said White. "All five guys will have to rebound.”

GRAND VALLEY STATE: Old school Cyclone basketball fans should remember the name Ric Wesley.

Wesley, a former Johnny Orr assistant, is now entering his eight season at Grand Valley State. Wesley and Hoiberg go way back. Wesley recruited Hoiberg to Iowa State when he was a sophomore at Ames High.

"I still talk to him a lot just about the game, the things that he is trying to do with his team and I try to apply it with our guys," said Hoiberg. "He knows the game. His record shows. They always have one of the top Division 2 programs in the country. They will come in here ready to roll and ready to compete. They’ll punch us in the mouth. I’m excited to see where we stand.”

Grand Valley State posted an 19-8 record during the 2010-11 season after going 22-9 in 2009-10.

=== JOTTINGS ===

*** It's been two years since Royce White has played in a meaningful, competitive basketball game.

“The feeling is indescribable. I am ready," said White. "I am thinking about it every night. I’m not sleeping much.”

*** White on the difference between this year's team and last...

“We have a whole new identity. Last year, it was mainly centered around DG’s ability to play make and Jamie’s ability to step out and knock down open shots. I think that our whole identity is different. The faces you will see are different but the system is the same.”

*** If Scott Christopherson is running the point, how will get get shots? Don't worry. Hoiberg has thought this through.

“We have some continuity in our offense right now when all three of those guys are getting looks, our perimeter guys," said Hoiberg. "We’re running different guys off of screens and Scott is involved with that. It doesn’t take away from his offense because we need him to score.”

*** Hoiberg on what he'll be looking for from the Cyclones on Sunday...

“I’m looking for our guys to come out and compete and play hard. Just give great effort on the offensive and defensive ends. I want them to play unselfishly on offense and continue to make strides. We got better after our inner-squad scrimmage a few weeks ago and our last two days of practice have been two of our best after the Nebraska scrimmage.”

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