It's Thanksgiving night, and the tryptophan hasn't quite kicked in yet. There's no Iowa State game until next week, and football season is dunzo. There's women's basketball, but they haven't played in forever, either. So, I figured I'd kick off my shoes, lay back, and write out what my absurdly premature observations of the men's basketball team are.
Bryan Petersen: I'll admit, I was a big doubter of Petey coming into the season. So far, what I've seen is a heady player (most of the time) that limits mistakes. He ran into trouble against the press of the Golden Gophers, constantly taking the ball to the sideline, but he seems to be a solid guy to run the point against a team that does not press. I think he's a much better option as either the backup point guard or even the shooting guard while Wesley remains out. He's got a very nice shot, but his size hurts. He's a energetic defender, but, again, his size hurts him.
Diante Garrett: I've been a Diante backer for a while, and we saw the beginnings of a transition to him against Minnesota. His size and fluidity with the ball help him in positions where Petersen struggles, but it's still painfully clear he's a freshman, including missing guys down low and sometimes trying to take control of too much. His shot is pretty atrocious. He has good penetration skills but he has trouble finishing, which is a shame, because he can penetrate just about whenever he wants to. His free throws actually look good for some reason. His size helps him on defense, but it's there sometimes, not all the time. I don't know if McDermott's system is really the best fit for him, but I do think he's our best option going into the Big 12.
Sean Haluska: Oh Sean, what a crappy start to your major college career. 1-of-18, including an 0-of-14 from behind the arc. I've seen Haluska in practice, and he is a skilled shooter, but he really seems to have problems finding his shot in game action, often shooting off balance. I can't be sure I've seen him set up for a shot taht didn't get stuffed. He has great athleticism and is a plus on defense, but he should be no more than a bench player. That's not a knock on him, I just don't think he should have been starting in the first place.
Charles Boozer: I can see why we considered redshirting Charles. He's a high effort guy out on the floor, but he's not our best option. His shot is kind of a knuckler heading up towards the basket. I think that he will get hot some game and really help us, but he sort of seems like a poor man's Tasheed Carr without the shooting ability at the moment, which, admittedly, isn't much.
Rahshon Clark: Rahshon has stepped up and is playing like a senior. He has had one of his best shooting starts of his career, reminding us all of his promising freshman campaign. He's also our best defender on the floor. However, as a Wayne Morgan recruit, he fits better to a more uptempo style. His rebounding has also suffered with him playing more 3 than 4 this year. The team needs to work on him getting more shots while he's still hot.
Cory Johnson: Cory is not as of yet seeing a lot of playing time. An epic scorer in high school, he has a post move, which is something some of our guys lack. He's the hardest worker on the team, but his height really hampers him. He could be the next Greg Brunner, and should see more playing time next year, but he's sort of stuck back on the depth chart this year.
Clayton Vette: I was honestly not expecting much out of Vette, but in limited action, I have not been totally turned off. He's a hard worker down low. He has trouble scoring, as well as with fouls. We'll need his size down low this year.
Craig Brackins: Has started out the year better than I ever could have expected. He really does have nice touch around the basket and can create his own shot down low. Does step out and shoot a little more than I'd like to see out of him, and would be deadly if he could back big guys down as well. His rebounding and defense leave a lot to be desired, however, but he is a true freshman, and a lot of that should improve with playing time.
Alex Thompson: I see why Iowa fans aren't disappointed he left. Just looks uncomfortable with the ball on the floor, not too mention having no touch at all. He's nothing more than a fouls-to-give option right now, as he gets shoved around when rebounding as well. He did seem to play less bad against Minnesota, though, so maybe there's hope.
Jiri Hubalek: Looks a lot more like the enigma from the beginning of last season than the guy who didn't drive me crazy anymore at the end of last year. Maybe his foot injury has messed with him, but he's been out of position a lot while rebounding while also back to taking dumb shots at times. His butt needs to be down on the block, and he'll help us a lot more. Stand there, be big, call for the ball. And box out.
It's really hard to tell how good this team without our best player. Maybe we'll be better for this. Maybe we can luck out and get Wesley back for Northern Iowa, and Lucca Staiger eligible for conference play. Our defense has appeared decent so far, but our offense looks bad a lot of the time. We have to get points off of runs, but we have yet to sustain anything. I don't mean for this to be a complete and total judgment of the team, rather, what I've observed so far.
For any of you fans out there that like to write about State, I'm still looking for occasional help around here, whether through writing in the diaries or by writing stories for up front. I'm still in school, so that gets in the way. If you're interested in all, my e-mail is up on the left side.
Oh, and have a safe holiday.