"We won't know about Tim Barnes until his final teacher grades that last exam and turns in that grade," said Morgan, who has led the Cyclones to a 5-0 start to the 2003-04 season. " Then he'll be certified by the registrar's office, which will let his know his GPA for this team and overall GPA.
"If they get that done quick enough, he will be eligible to play Saturday. They have to get it done. Those things are out of my control."
One thing is for certain, however. Assuming Barnes does become eligible to play out the remainder of his senior season, the Cyclone backcourt will be one of the best in the Big 12, if not the entire country.
He would join prolific shooter Jake Sullivan and a pair of first-year guards in Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock. Stinson has taken Ames by storm, averaging 13.2 points and 7.2 assists in five games at Hilton Coliseum. Blalock has yet to hit his stride, but has been very efficient by contributing more than four assists, while committing fewer than two turnovers per game.
"It would give us some pretty good guards," Morgan said. "Some programs may have three better guards than we might have, but I don't think any program would have Tim, Will, Curtis and Jake – four guards of that caliber that can play. That would give us tremendous depth at guard and maybe a little bit of an advantage in some situations."
Although each of the three guards already in the mix may have to sacrifice some playing time if Barnes returns, that's not a problem for any.
"He has experience and that would be huge, especially as we go on with this long season," said Sullivan. "We're hoping he gets back"
Added Morgan, "He works well with them. They're all good friends already, respect each other's abilities and understand it would give us more depth and another quality player."
Barnes has practiced with the team for nearly half of the fall semester after getting his tutoring sessions no longer conflicted with workouts.
"When he first started, he was in a situation where during practice he could have an opportunity to be tutored," Morgan said. "Then there came a time, because of the structuring of the tutoring, there were practices that he wasn't being tutored. If he wasn't doing academics, then he might as well be in practice."
Drake, Dr. Tom next up for Cyclones
Expect an up-tempo style game when a pair of programs under first-year coaches clash at the Knapp Center Saturday night.
"I think the fans are really going to enjoy this game," Morgan said. "We're going to play the same way that we play – we're going to try to get up and down the floor. I'm looking for a high-scoring game, a game in the 80s or 90s. That's where it will be. That will be a lot of fun for the fans to see that many points put up."
Morgan says his program is in a similar situation to his opponent's, in that the Bulldog players are also having to learn under a new coach.
"Drake is going through a little bit of what we're going through – they've got 13 players learning a system," he said. "It's going to be a good game. I think that we'll get their best game. Our kids understand its an intrastate game, and when they get there they'd better bring a full lunch pail."
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Knapp Center.