At point position, three is not a crowd – for time being

Tommy Birch

Junior Alex Thompson isn’t sure who is going to be bringing the ball up the court to him this season, but the Cyclones forward has a solution for the point guard problem.

“I think we should put them in a ring and give them boxing gloves,” Thompson said jokingly.

He may be kidding around, but there still remains the question over who will be playing the point guard position when the Cyclones officially open the 2007-08 season against Winston-Salem State on Friday.

After the departures of guards Dodie Dunson, Corey McIntosh and Mike Taylor, the job was left wide open. Now, ISU coach Greg McDermott has narrowed it down to three candidates, junior Bryan Petersen and freshmen Marcus Brister and Diante Garrett.

“All three of them are capable of doing great things in their own way and they’re all very different,” McDermott said. “I think the flexibility of going with different personnel at that particular spot, I think it’ll turn out to be an advantage for us.”

A 6-foot-1-inch, 180-pound junior, Petersen had played the previous two seasons at Kirkwood Community College. Petersen averaged 12.3 point and 4.3 assists per game.

“A lot of good things have to go my way for me to get some good playing time,” Petersen said. “It is definitely exciting. I’m just hoping to contribute to the team whether it’s playing a bunch of minutes or a few minutes.”

Petersen is joined by Brister, a 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound freshman that was listed as one of the top-60 players out of Texas after his final year at Duncanville High School in Dallas, Texas. As a senior at God’s Academy Prep School in Dallas, he averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 assists per game.

Also competing for the spot is the 6-foot-4-inch, 180-pound freshman Garrett. A finalist for 2007 Wisconsin Player of the Year honors as a senior, Garrett averaged 15.2 points and 5.3 assists per game.

Now, all three find themselves battling for the same job.

“It’s always hard,” Brister said. “You can’t really have an off day or a bad day necessarily because we have so many competitors as a team this year. We have a lot of players, a lot of new players, so everybody wants to play.”

Even though the starter hasn’t been set yet, all three will have their shot at playing time. After strong showings from each of the three during the summer, McDermott has yet to announce who will be the opening-night point guard. While each of them has been fighting for the same spot, all three have become good friends.

“We sometimes take it easy on each other not knowing we’re playing for the same position,” Garrett said.

Sometimes they take it almost too easy.

“It’s just a situation where I’ve got a couple of really nice young men,” McDermott said. “I think it’ll hit home with them this week that they’re competing for playing time.”

While none of them have any experience playing at the Big 12 level, McDermott said coaches and fans will have to be patient throughout the year.

“There’s going to be some good times and some bad times,” he said. “They’re a hungry group, they want to get better, and they’ve done the things that we’ve asked them to do.”

Thompson said he feels comfortable with whoever brings him the ball.

“I’m not too worried about it,” he said. “I’m confident in all three of them. They’ve all impressed me. They’re all competing for it because they’re all doing a good job and they’re playing really well.”