How ISU Looks, Post-Haluska

Just when it looked as if the entire Iowa State starting lineup of a year ago would be returning for first-year coach Wayne Morgan, more bad news came about. Wednesday's stunning news of Adam Haluska's transfer now leaves Morgan with a glaring hole in his game rotation this season.

The good news is the Cyclones still figure to return many key contributors from a year ago and can do some patch work at the three spot. But the loss of an in-state player that garnered as much praise as Haluska did out of Carroll High one summer ago will have as much of an effect off the court as it does on.

Here's the best-case scenario for how ISU's roster will look when preseason practice begins in October. Since it's still unclear whether Morgan will maintain the three-guard approach Larry Eustachy used in Ames, let's break the roster down into two parts.

PERIMETER

Point guard Tim Barnes and shooter Jake Sullivan, two of several seniors on this team, are locks for the starting lineup heading in. Barnes came on late in the season to average 11.3 points and nearly five assists per game. He also emerged as a threat from the outside, ranking second to Sullivan in 3-pointers with 57.

However, reports surfaced around the time of Eustachy's resignation that Barnes had lost his eligibility. While he didn't address his academic status directly, the senior point man indicated he has to do some work in the classroom this summer.

All systems are go with Sullivan, who is poised for a banner senior season and could establish himself as one of the best four-year players in Cyclone history. The 6-footer averaged a team-high 17 points and hit 67 3-pointers in 31 games.

Haluska's absence could easily be accounted for with Marcus Jefferson, who was actually the better of the two in February and March. But it's not that easy. Jefferson shuttled back and forth to Chicago late in the season to see his ailing mother and now has some academic hurdles to clear this summer. If Jefferson (8.4 points per game) does return to action, ISU should be able to account for Haluska. While Morgan won't get the outside shooting, he'll still get Jefferson's great athleticism, penetration and finish around the basket.

The backcourt will actually be deeper than a year ago when Barnes and Sullivan were forced to log big-time minutes. Combo guards Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson, a pair of prep school standouts from the East, if ready to contribute right away, will keep the two starters fresh for a postseason run.

Blalock has big-game experience for a prolific Notre Dame Prep program, while Stinson will give the team a much-needed defensive presence up top and has gained the reputation of being a ball-hawk.

After a run of negatives that has spanned more than a month, Cyclone fans are in need of good news and fast. Could it come in the form of Tacoma (Wash.) Community College swing-man Justin Holt? Holt originally signed with Oregon State out of high school, but attended Tacoma this past season and inked with the Cyclones. He is waiting on an appeal to the NCAA, regarding a summer school credit. If he wins his appeal, Holt would be eligible to play this season and his contributions are needed with Haluska transferring.

POST

ISU figures to return starters Jackson Vroman (12.5 points, 9.4 rebounds) and Jared Homan (7.5 points and 6.4 rebounds) to the lineup. However, both have had their run-ins with the law and need to remain focused throughout the rest of the summer. Vroman was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and with possession of drug paraphernalia over the weekend in Storm Lake. Homan has had multiple arrests involving alcohol throughout his brief two-year career.

Vroman, who has been suspended from the team indefinitely, figures to miss some playing time early in the season. He also faces some extra time in the classroom this summer getting his academics in order.

On the personal end, Homan, one of Eustachy's most staunch supporters, must adapt to playing for a new head coach this year.

ISU's serious lack of depth will be aided by the arrival of JUCO transfer Damion Staple and true freshman Reggie George. Staple was a second-team All-American at Southeastern Illinois and will provide some scoring and rebounding punch inside.

But experience is something Morgan won't have much of behind his two starters. The staff would like to get something out of Andrew Skoglund and Andrew Schaper who each averaged less than one point a game last season. Skoglund hasn't played much throughout his three-year career and health concerns have bogged down Schaper's development.


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