McKay evolving into Iowa State’s rim protector
Jameel McKay sat and pondered for a moment Saturday as teammate Monte Morris sat on the other end of the table and laughed. The 6-foot-9 big man has been described since his arrival as the first rim protector of the Fred Hoiberg era.
McKay has made his presence known offensively with thunderous dunks. Defensively, he’s certainly lived up to the rim protector moniker with 34 swats in only 15 games (three starts).
So, McKay was asked, does he prefer a big dunk or big block?
“That’s a good question,” McKay said, pausing, and then finding his answer. “I’d rather have a good block because it’s more of a team statistic. It helps keep them from scoring. Nine times out of 10 if you get a good block it leads to something good on the other end.”
There may be no ‘Points off Blocks’ statistic in the same way as there is for turnovers, but McKay’s length in the middle has certainly paid dividends for Iowa State. His 34 blocks, even while missing the season’s first nine games, is not only a team-leading mark, but is also a staggering one.
Melvin Ejim led Iowa State in the blocks category last season when the Big 12 Player of the Year swatted 23 shots. Ejim accomplished that feat in 34 games, more than double what McKay has appeared in so far this season.
McKay has already broached the top-20 (tied at No. 18) for blocks in a season in Iowa State history in limited action. He blocked five shots in Saturday’s win to tie a career-high and is on pace to crack the top-10 by season’s end (No. 6 is 51) if he averages the 2.3 blocks per game in the minimum eight games Iowa State figures to have remaining (six regular season, one Big 12, one NCAA).
“He impacts the game in so many ways,” coach Fred Hoiberg said Saturday after the Cyclones topped West Virginia. “To have five blocks, countless others that he affected in there. We were able to outscore a team that’s really good in the paint, 32-20. A lot of that has to do with Jameel McKay.”
Hoiberg expounds on 3-pointers vs. long 2s
When Bryce Dejean-Jones arrived in Ames from Las Vegas, one of his first conversations with Fred Hoiberg was about moving a few inches back to shoot 3s rather than long 2s.
Hoiberg's distaste for long 2s certainly has not gone under the radar.
At the Sukup Basketball Compex on the west side of Ames, Iowa State has plotted onto the hardwood, with white tape, an NBA 3-point line. The line is not for players to take deep 3-pointers — although Naz Long admits they’re tempting — but is rather used for spacing and to prevent long 2s.
“A lot of it is just repetition,” Hoiberg said. “We try to keep guys behind [the NBA line] so when you get your momentum going into your shot you’re not on the line, you’re just in front of the line. You want to try to avoid those shots. We’ve done a pretty good job throughout the year.”