Ready or not

Jeff Stell

ISU men’s basketball coach Larry Eustachy feels his team isn’t ready for the season yet, but like it or not the Cyclones tip off the season Monday hosting Hartford.

The Cyclones have won two exhibition games, but Eustachy would like more preparation time for his inexperienced squad. If the Cyclones win Monday, they could possibly play three more games next week at the Las Vegas Invitational.

“We’ve made progress but on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being ready for the season, we’re about a two,” Eustachy said. “We’ve got a long ways to go in a short time.”

After pulling away late to beat Global Sports in their exhibition opener, Iowa State looked improved beating Next Level Sports, 86-62.

“It’s just two exhibition games and we have to remember that,” guard Jake Sullivan said. “I think we’re getting better. It was a huge improvement for the first game to the second, but we’re nowhere where we need to be.”

The Cyclones are trying to piece together a starting lineup to replace four graduated starters. Eustachy is using a rotation of up to 10 players, with Sullivan, Shane Power and Tyray Pearson being the only three that saw extensive playing time last season.

“We’re immature, but that’s not a knock, we’re just young,” Eustachy said. “They have been maturing, but we have to accelerate that, because they’ll get in tough situations where that will be important.”

Sullivan started at shooting guard last season as a freshman, but has moved over to handle the point guard duties for the time being. In the two exhibition wins, Sullivan led the Cyclones in scoring at 17.5 points per game and has dished out seven assists.

Along with Sullivan, Power, Marcus Jefferson and Ricky Morgan have formed a point-guard by committee as all are capable of bringing the ball up the floor.

“We’re not snappy or zippy at [point guard],” Eustachy said. “I think when Marcus is at the three, he can bring it up and start the offense. It’s not a big concern.”

Jefferson has been the most impressive of the Cyclones newcomers. The Providence transfer has showed tremendous versatility, totaling 34 points and 22 rebounds in the two games.

“Jefferson is potentially as talented as we’ve had here, but he plays in spurts,” Eustachy said. “He mirrors this team. He plays in spurts and he can play bad, but he always plays hard.”

One area of concern for Eustachy is in the paint. The Cyclones have no proven inside force, but there’s potential there in Pearson, Omar Bynum and Jared Homan.

Pearson always produces when he’s in the game but can be unpredictable.

That showed in the boxscore of the Cyclones exhibition win over Next Level Sports as the senior scored 15 points in just 13 minutes, but also committed five turnovers.

Homan is developing rapidly, and Eustachy sees a lot of promise in the 6-9 freshman.

“Homan is ahead of schedule, and he’s been a pleasant surprise,” Eustachy said. “He’s got remarkable toughness for a freshman.”