Well almost, anyways.
The season technically begins on Friday, November 9 against Winston-Salem State, but the first exhibition game is tomorrow (November 1) against The University of Dubuque Spartans, a D3 team out of Dubuque, Iowa (duh) that is a member of the IIAC. The IIAC includes schools such as Coe, Buena Vista, Wartburg, Loras, Luther, Simpson, Central, Cornell and the aforementioned Dubuque. I'll mention again that I love the idea of ISU using it's exhibition games against lower division teams from the state of Iowa. For starters, it'll bring in at least a few fans of these in-state teams to see their school play on a big stage. Plus, it's just plain good for the state of Iowa. Upper Iowa is a D2 team, so throw them in there as well.
Anyways, back to the basketball at hand.
McDermott has essentially set his lineup for the Dubuque game. The team that we will likely see on the floor at tipoff.
PG Bryan Petersen, 6-1, Jr.
SG Wesley Johnson, 6-7, So.
SF Rahshon Clark, 6-6, Sr.
PF Craig Brackins, 6-10, Fr.
PF Alex Thompson, 6-10, Jr.
The loss of Lucca Staiger (out for the year pending appeal) and Jiri Hubalek (out 1-5 weeks) really shuffles the lineup.
I was a little surprised to see Garrett not in the starting lineup. I honestly think he is one of the most talented players on the team, but I'm guessing that he's pressing too much in practice. He'll see his minutes, and don't be surprised to see him start later in the year. BP comes in from Kirkwood as a D2JC First Team All American, currently on a one year scholarship. From the few times I've gotten to see the team, BP seemed like a guy who tried to play within himself, not making many mistakes. I think he can distribute the ball; rather, my concerns come from his frame. We saw Corey McIntosh get pushed around a bunch last year. I'll have to wait to see if this will be the same, but he literally is built like a high schooler. I also rarely saw him shoot. Garrett will likely be the guy to spell him off the bench - awesome handles, awful-looking shot. Marcus Brister should also get some time. He doesn't drive the the bucket as fancy as DG does, but he's probably the best in terms of build that we have.
Wes Johnson gets the nod here that would have more than likely gone to Lucca Staiger had he not been PWF (playing while foreign). Wes has a nice shot, but it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to more of a ball-handing role. I think he'll flash down low a bit, as it has to be tough to lose his rebounding down low. Maybe just one guy will release. Supposedly, Wes has been working on his ballhandling, and Mac says he's a natural 2 (maybe, but go figure). He figures to get spelled by Sean Haluska (yes, the little bro of that Haluska) and Charles Boozer (yes, the little bro of that Boozer). Haluska has a beautiful shot, but we have no idea yet if he'll succumb to Brock Jacobson syndrome (who we should never have to see again). In the practice I as at, Mac was riding Sean hard. He'll function as a bit of a zonebuster too. Boozer has a HIGH arcing shot. "Chuck", as only I like to call him, is a tough defender. Could function much as Dodie Dunson did.
Rahshon gets the nod at the 3. There's not much to be said about him that hasn't already. Shooting tailed off last year, but still busts his butt and is a leader on the court, including on defense and rebounding. He's kind of like a Bret Meyer that I don't hate and doesn't suck. Backing him up will be Cory Johnson, an effective scorer if he can see the rim. CoJo should get some meaningful playing time early with Hubalek hurt and the lack of bigs that we have.
Five star recruit Craig Brackins gets the nod here. I honestly thought he would come off of the bench to start the year, but he impressed me when I saw him in practice. He does have a nice touch around the rim, though I have no idea how he will fare defensively or rebounding. Decent will the ball as a big man, and not afraid to shoot the 3. Clayton Vette will back up Brackins (and Thompson) at forward. Who knows if he can score. He's kind of undersized, but I enjoyed watching him work on defense in practice.
Alex Thompson will be the guy playing the five. I still think that he thinks he's a guard...so McDermott needs to keep hammering home to him that he's 6-10. Not a horrible shot moving out from the bucket, but I'm guessing that's not his job. As with most of the guys, we need to wait and see. If he comes out, look for Brackins to move to the 5 and Vette of CoJo at the 4.
At this point, we'll get a much better read after Thursday night's game (and yes, I plan on doing a Gameday thread for it). Optimally, the lineup would have been (to me), Garrett, Staiger, W Johnson, Clark/Brackins and Hubalek, but it's pretty clear that a higher power hates State.
But, it's just one day til basketball. Just one day.