NOTEBOOK: Jottings from Big 12 Media Day

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Below are bullet points of what went down at the Big 12’s annual basketball media day on Wednesday at the Sprint Center. 

VERSATILITY: Fred Hoiberg gushed when talking about the vast amount of lineup options he has had at his disposal so far during preseason practice. 

“The biggest thing that we’ve worked on so far is our flow offense, where we aren’t calling plays and trying to get guys to recognize the mismatch on the floor,” Hoiberg said.

One example that Hoiberg mentioned numerous times was playing Georges Niang on the perimeter more. Niang losing 30 pounds in the offseason allows him to do that.

Dustin Hogue is another versatile guy who can play the three or the four. Hogue is a much more skilled player than he was when he first stepped on Iowa State’s campus, Hoiberg noted. 

“I will run more stuff for Dustin this year just because when he is playing the four-spot, he is quicker than most guys guarding him,” Hoiberg said. “When he is playing the three, he is bigger than most guys guarding him.”

The jury is still out but Abdel Nader, a bulky 6-foot-6 transfer out of Northern Illinois, could end up being one of the most versatile players on the roster.

“He has been one of our better players early on in the process here,”Hoibergsaid of Nader. “He is such a unique guy because he can make shots from the perimeter, especially when you run him into a ball-screen and he is at the four-spot. He is also a guy who can post you up and hit tough fade-aways.”

Those are just a few examples. Figuring out who will play when and where is a challenge that Hoiberg will continue to tackle over the next few weeks.  

                          *** PODCAST: Hoiberg, Niang & Hogue join CF from KC ***

THOMAS LIGHTS IT UP: Iowa State held a scrimmage on Tuesday and sophomore shooting guard Matt Thomas was the star.

“He was hitting everything,” Hoiberg said. “Floaters. He hit a left-handed kind of flip shot. He had about 18 points in the first 10 minutes of our scrimmage. He is playing with great rhythm so hopefully he keeps it up.” 

FRESHMEN: How will Hoiberg go about easing point guard Clayton Custer’s transition from high school ball to the Big 12? Well, he doesn’t have to do much. That is Monte Morris’ job. 

“Playing against Monte Morris is going to be the best thing that will teach him how to play at this level,” Hoiberg said. “Every day, Monte is out there pressuring him all over the floor and he gets better every practice. He is a guy that makes the right play and I’ve talked about this before but he is cut from the same cloth as Monte where he is going to make the plays that help teams win and gets the best shot possible whether if it is for him or for a teammate.”

As for the 7-1 rookie from Greece, Georgios Tsalmpouris? Let’s just say that he’s doing okay too.

“A couple of days ago he hit three threes in a row and he started talking smack,” Hoiberg said.

NO ISSUE WITH POLL: Hoiberg didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that his fellow Big 12 coaches picked the Cyclones to finish fifth in the league according to last week’s poll.

“I don’t know if you can argue with it with what we lost,” Hoiberg said. “We lost two All-Americans, your player of the year and DeAndre, who did things that not many people in the country did. You can obviously see where it came from. Our guys, if you ask them, there is a little motivation but as I’ve said all along, this isn’t a group that needs motivation. They are going to go out and play whether they are picked first or whether they are picked last.”

FUN WITH FRED: Today is Hoiberg’s 42nd birthday, so there’s that.

As for Saturday’s slam-dunk and 3-point contests, Hoiberg picked Jameel McKay and Naz Long to bring home the hardware.

TASHAWN THOMAS: Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger provided this update on the status of transfer (Houston) TaShawn Thomas.

“Expect to hear something soon,” Kruger said. “Don’t know what that means exactly.  We kind of thought that the last 10 days or so, but really do think it’s soon now.”

BASEBALL FEVER: "Go Royals." That’s how Kruger led off his press conference. 

HUGGY: West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins wore a bow-tie to the event. 

"It just kind of seemed like the right thing to do," said Huggins. "And I’d like to keep you guessing. I don’t want people to think they’ve figured me out yet."

SELF ON AUTOGRAPHS: I thought that Kansas head coach Bill Self’s answer to a question about autographs was insightful and interesting.

“Somebody asks for an autograph, the perfect thing to say, who do you want me to make it out to?  If they say, well, don’t, just sign your name, well, then, you automatically know it could be for sale.  And with you having no knowledge of it,” Kansas’ coach explained. “Our guys sign autographs for an hour, 30 minutes after every game.  We try to limit it to one thing and have it be a child as opposed to an adult, but there’s no telling how many times you have children come bringing you ten items to sign that isn’t for them, it’s for the adult that told them to go do it or paid them $5 to go get it done. It’s a tough deal.  I don’t understand those cases at all, but it’s a little bit different when you’re signing randomly than it is if you’re actually sitting down and somebody’s handing you an abundant amount of things to sign.  That would be a little bit suspicious to me. But try to educate our players, hey, if it you want an autograph, just ask who to make it out to.  If they say, don’t make it out to anybody, then there’s really absolutely no reason to sign it.”

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