Takeaways: Imperfect start is exactly what Iowa State expected to start the season

Iowa State freshman Darlinstone Dubar grabs a rebound Nov. 29 at Hilton Coliseum. Dubar ended with seven points and six offensive rebounds in his collegiate debut. 

Matt Belinson

It wasn’t perfect, like most season openers typically go, but Iowa State men’s basketball started its 2020-21 season with a 80-63 win Sunday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

But Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm expected as much from his team, with several new faces in the program and the typical summer and fall offseason taken away from the players and staff.

“We’ll be ready on Sunday, will we be perfect? No, not by any means,” Prohm said before Sunday’s season opener.

Prohm’s pregame expectations lined up with what took place on the court Sunday.

Some ups. Some downs.

Dubar and other freshmen impress

Transfers, recruits and returning faces are all expected to contribute for Iowa State this season, and Sunday gave a good glimpse into who has impressed Prohm and his staff early on.

Freshman Darlinstone Dubar played 22 minutes with seven points and eight rebounds, six of which were offensive rebounds.

“Well he’s just one that kind of grows on you, when he first got here I wasn’t sure what he was going to do or how he was going to do early and then kind of just keeps growing on ya because he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Prohm said.

Dubar’s energy and presence around the ball led to his extended playing time Sunday, energy Prohm said Iowa State will need this season.

Dubar’s 22 minutes was more than Solomon Young’s 19 minutes and George Conditt’s 13 minutes.

“I felt like it went pretty good, I was just trying to go as hard as I can and have as much fun as I can,” Dubar said.

Freshman forward Dudley Blackwell played eight minutes and finished with two assists, one steal and three points. Freshman guard Jaden Walker also played eight minutes, scoring his five points at the tail end of the first half to bring Iowa State closer before the break.

Xavier Foster, who many consider to be the crown jewel of the freshman class, saw nine minutes of action. Foster contributed four points and one rebound off two dunks after the defense collapsed, leaving Foster room to use his 7-foot skillset to go up for an easy two baskets.

Prohm said Foster’s limited playing time might leave some fans confused, given how big of a pickup Foster was to the program, but his offseason injuries have set him back compared to others.

Concussion issues have led to Foster starting off his collegiate career slower than some would like, but Prohm said even without injuries, Foster has to compete with two very solid fives in Young and Conditt above him on the depth chart.

Prohm isn’t trying to play as big of a lineup as he did last season, so minutes will come at a premium for Foster as he continues to develop.

Sloppy start

Getting the win was great to open the season, but the first point Prohm made to the media after the game was it was pretty obvious Iowa State needed to get a real game under its belt.

In fact, it was the first thing out of Prohm’s mouth Sunday.

“Well we needed to play, which you guys probably saw that,” Prohm said with a grin.

Iowa State started the game down 10-0, shooting 0-4 from three, which led to Prohm calling timeout to start the game. 

The 0-4 from three quickly turned to 1-7 from three with Iowa State not grabbing a single rebound until 14:45 left in the first half.

The poor play continued for most of the first half, as the team went into the break down 37-34, never having a lead in the first half and shooting 38.2 percent from the field and 4-18 from three.

Prohm said he had a feeling Iowa State would have a hard time attacking the zone defense of Pine Bluff, but felt Iowa State was hurting itself more than he expected to start the season. Prohm said there were too many threes taken and not enough movement with the ball.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s first two opponents, Marquette and Wisconsin, attacked the zone well and Pine Bluff missed shots. Prohm said the exact opposite took place in the first half Sunday.

“Honestly I didn’t know what to expect,” Prohm said.

Low production in the post

Iowa State is going for a version of small ball this year, so with the amount of ball handlers and shooters that will be on the floor for Iowa State, one-on-one matchups in the post should be there.

And with just one traditional big on the floor this season, getting production on the glass and in post touches will be paramount for the Cyclones.

The production wasn’t there against the Golden Lions on Sunday.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff outrebounded Iowa State 36-31, had five blocks compared to Iowa State’s three and outscored Iowa State 38 to 34 in the paint.

Young had two points in his 19 minutes, Conditt had two points in his 13 minutes on the floor and Foster’s two dunks and four points led the way down low.

Going in, Prohm said the goal was to hold Pine Bluff to seven or less offensive rebounds. The Golden Lions came in averaging 12.5 offensive rebounds and grabbed 11 on Sunday.

“I thought we were just OK on the glass,” Prohm said.

But with junior point guard Rasir Bolton finishing the opener second on the team in rebounds with seven, Prohm said there will need to be improvement with the post play going forward.

“We gotta get Young rebounding, 20 minutes — no rebounds, we gotta get him rebounding,” Prohm said. “George had four in 13 minutes.”