The biggest news of the college hoops weekend had to do with injuries.
Casey Prather of Florida missed Saturday’s game with Arkansas. Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie injured his knee on Sunday night against Washington. And, of course, there was Iowa State’s all-american candidate Deandre Kane getting carried off the court after rolling his left ankle at the end of the Cyclone’s loss to Oklahoma.
Iowa State takes on Kansas tonight, and according to head coach Fred Hoiberg, Kane will very much be a game-time decision.
“I’ve been messaging with him this morning and he will be in soon for treatment,” he told reporters on a Big 12 conference call on Monday morning. “He wakes up sore, and that’s normal. We’ll see. The big thing is, seeing if he can run, and more importantly, seeing if he can cut. We’ll take a cautious approach.”
Kane didn’t practice on Sunday, and the biggest concern that the Iowa State staff has in regards to Kane’s ankle is how effective he’ll be. According to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com, there’s a “good chance” that Kane suits up, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll be the same guy that went for 30 points, nine assists, eight boards and five steals against Baylor.
If Kane is ineffective or doesn’t play, freshman Monte Morris will get the call. Morris scored in double-figures in three straight games prior to Saturday’s loss and has been one of the more pleasant surprises in the Big 12 this season.
UPDATE, 6:00 p.m: According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune Deandre Kane will play against Kansas.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.