HOOPS: One-on-One with Fred Hoiberg


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg addresses the media at ISU’s annual media day on Oct. 10 at the Sukup Basketball Complex. Eight players on this year’s roster are new to the team.

Alex Halsted

As ISU coach Fred Hoiberg enters his fourth season at the helm of the Cyclones, his team will take on a completely new look. After losing the bulk of its contributors from last season’s NCAA tournament team, the Cyclones have eight players who will don ISU uniforms for the first time ever during the 2013-14 season. 

The long list of new players includes tranfers and freshmen. Guard DeAndre Kane will play his senior season for the Cyclones after tranferring from Marshall and true freshmen Matt Thomas and Monte Morris are expected to be key contributors, too. 

With DeAndre Kane, do you envision him playing mostly the point or is it a situation where some of the younger guys can press to the point where you can move them around?

He’ll play both. He’ll play with the ball in his hands a lot this year. He’s a tremendous rebounder as well. Any time you can get that rebound, even if he’s playing off the ball, he’s going to have the freedom to bring the ball up the floor and get us into a fast break situation. Monte [Morris] will handle it a lot when he’s in the game, and then the other way that we’ve used our bigs in the past obviously with Georges and Melvin.

That’s one thing I think Melvin has really grown is his ability to make plays off the bounce. The big is figuring out now when to hand off and when to throw ahead in a ball screen. That’s the growth I think Melvin’s had the past few years.

Who is Chris Babb, offensively and defensively? 

That’s a good question. That’s one area I’ve been very impressed with DeAndre is his ability to move his feet. He’s got a great wide stance and can really get into the ball and pressure. I think we’ll have a capability of being a little bit better defensively. That’s something that we have to [do]. I don’t think we have quite as many offensive weapons as we did a year ago, but I think we should be able to be better defensively.

Hogue moves his feet well on the perimeter and has great size. Naz Long has shown me a very good ability to move his feet and stay in front of guys. And then Melvin, Georges, Daniel, I think can protect the rim back there. So I think, top to bottom, we’re probably a little bit better defensively than we were a year ago.

Georges had a great freshman year. How has he grown in the past five months?

He’s so productive. Going back, and I know I’ve talked about this before, to when I started watching him for the first time when I saw him out at Tilton Prep School, and he was just abusing Nerlens Noel. That’s kind of who he is. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He can do it all from every spot on the floor, and again, you talk about versatility in a basketball player Georges probably stands out as much as anybody.

How much has Melvin meant to the team since he’s been here, and how much will he have to mean to the team this year?

Melvin has done everything for us. It says all you need to know about Melvin Ejim when you lead the league in rebounding. The most athletic and very physical conference, when you’re that size and lead the league in rebounding, that says all you need to know.

The other thing about Melvin is he does everything right. [He’s] the Scholar Athlete of the Year in the Big 12 Conference; he’s going to get his degree this year. He’s a guy I think we’re all very proud of. It blows me away that Melvin’s a senior. He’s done s much for this program and university.

On the team’s two freshmen, Monte Morris and Matt Thomas —

Monte Morris has been very, very good for us. I knew he was a good player, but the learning curve for a freshman point guard is as high as you’re going to find. Monte has done a tremendous job. He’s a low turnover guy; he can get you into an offense; he makes tremendous decisions.

Matt Thomas has really been shooting the ball well. Matt never played man-to-man basketball defensively in his high school career, so that’s been new to him. He’s going to continue to develop and get better on that end.