After playing 17.5 minutes per contest in 33 games this past season, guard Aaron Short has left the program in what was termed by both Short and head coach Ron Verlin as a “mutual” parting of ways according to Jagdip Dhillon of the Stockton (Calif.) Record.
Short posted averages of 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Tigers, who finished the 2013-14 season with an 18-16 overall record (6-12 WCC). Pacific reached the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com tournament. And according to Verlin’s quotes in the story, there were apparently some issues off the floor that led to Short leaving the program.
Verlin said he had no issues with his on-court performance, but he wanted a greater commitment from Short regarding always being on time and not missing class as a senior and he didn’t get it.
“He’s a great kid and absolutely, he could have stayed here,” Verlin said. “But I can’t change my core values for one player and I’m going to hold you to a high standard because you’re supposed to be a leader as a senior. How can I count on you when the chips are down, when you can’t do the little things I ask of you?”
In the story Short noted that he feels he can give more to another program on the court, as he was a reserve for the Tigers last season. Short’s best offensive performance came in Pacific’s home win over BYU in mid-February, a game in which he scored 11 points in 22 minutes of action.
Short is expected to graduate by August, which would make him eligible to receive a graduate transfer waiver at another Division I school. Short’s departure means that the Tigers will be even younger than expected, with their eight-member recruiting class sure to have ample opportunities to earn immediate playing time.
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.