We all know that early season stats are worth about as much as the paper they are printed on, but in our profession we love them. So humor me for awhile.
Monté Being Monté
Sophomore guard Monté Morris is up to his old tricks, dishing out 12 assists to just two turnovers this season. The two turnovers, by the way, came in the season opener.
Morris’ career to this point has been incredible. After setting the NCAA record with a 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, Morris has even more responsibility this season with Kane’s departure. He’s averaging 16.5 points, up from 6.8 points last season. In his last five games dating back to last season, Morris is averaging 14.6 points and shooting 60.9 percent from the field. Oh, he’s also hit 10 of his last 13 three-pointers during that stretch.
Morris’ nine-assist, no-turnover game against Georgia State was the seventh in his career with five or more assists and no turnovers.
Need more? Morris has never recorded two or more turnovers in back-to-back games.
His star is just beginning to shine.
Niang The Prognosticator
Before this season got started, Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register and I were talking with Georges Niang while waiting for some other guys to arrive for interviews. In our discussion, Niang was talking about Bryce Dejean-Jones and he said one of the most impressive things about his new teammate was his ability to crash the boards.
We all wondered where the rebounds were going to fall after losing two of the team’s top-three rebounders from a year ago in Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane.
At that time, Niang said it wasn’t unrealistic to think that Dejean-Jones could average as many boards as Kane (6.8 rpg) did because of how hard he goes to the rim and his athletic ability.
Well, with a small sample size, after two games Dejean-Jones is second on the team with 9.0 rebounds per game, behind only Niang’s 10 boards per contest.
Against Georgia State, ISU assisted on 79.3 percent of its field goals. Making the extra pass has always been an important part of the Fred Hoiberg offensive attack. Last season, the Cyclones assisted on 62.4 percent of their field goals. Here is a quick breakdown of the assist percentage during the Hoiberg era. As you can see, it continues to get better.
2010-11: 55.1 percent (480 assists/870 field goals)
2011-12: 57.1 percent (484 assists/847 field goals)
2012-13: 58.2 percent (560 assists/962 field goals)
2013-14: 62.4 percent (663 assists/1062 field goals)
2014-15: 69.4 percent (41 assists/59 field goals)
Niang is currently one of just two players nationally averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Only Evansville’s Mislav Brzoja has played just one game, against Division III Earlham, scoring 22 points to go along with 11 boards and four assists.
Dustin Hogue’s performance (34 pts, 15-19 FG) in the Sweet 16 against UCONN last season was one to remember. Many hoped that it would carry over into his senior campaign. It has. Maybe not to the tune of 34 points per game, but that wouldn’t be realistic to expect.
Hogue is averaging 15 points per game and shooting 73.3 percent from the field, which ranks second among Big 12 players.
Going back to the Cyclones’ Big 12 Tournament win against Kansas State, Hogue is connecting on 68.5 percent of his field goal attempts.
The Yonkers, N.Y., native is as efficient as they come.