Of Barnes, Power and Rhodes

College basketball is definitely a guard-oriented game. When push comes to shove in March, the team with the better backcourt usually wins. For that reason, Iowa State has something to be pretty excited about. Will Blalock, Jake Sullivan and Curtis Stinson provide the Cyclones with three good guards.

We will soon find out if Coach Wayne Morgan can add one more quality guard to the mix. Tim Barnes will find out in the next day or two whether he's academically eligible and ready to rejoin the team as early as Saturday's game at Drake.

Not that I don't have a lot of confidence in Sullivan and the two rookies—Blalock and Stinson—but I think Barnes will bring a few things to the table that Iowa State could really use. For example…

Experience. It may sound like a coaching cliché, but when a guy has already been through the battles on the road in the Big 12, it means a lot. It gives him more confidence…and gives his teammates some additional confidence, as well. Barnes is a guy who played 36 minutes per game last season. He averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Those are some pretty good numbers. He was a big part of the blowout victories over Colorado and Missouri in Ames. He won't be asked to play 36 minutes per game this season, but he would certainly help.

Ballhandling. Whether Barnes is playing the point or shooting guard, he will provide ISU with a guy who CAN bring the ball up the floor against pressure, who CAN push it up the floor on the break and who CAN break down a defense with penetration. These are extremely valuable skills to any basketball team…and you can hardly have enough of them.

Three-point shooting. Last, but certainly not least, is Barnes' ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. If Iowa State's backcourt has a bit of a weakness, it's that there still isn't a PROVEN long-range shooter to go along with Sullivan. Blalock has a great percentage from three-point range, but he's only taken eight of these shots in five games. Will he begin to shoot the open three-pointer more often as the year goes on? I don't know.

For all of his talents, I'm still not totally confident in Stinson as a long-range shooter, either. Barnes, on the other hand, knocked down 57 three-pointers last season at a 38% clip. Very good numbers. It's my belief that a college basketball team needs to have at least TWO long-range threats on the floor for its half-court offense to run smoothly.

If the team only has ONE good shooter, it's much easier for the defense to double down on post players and give plenty of help on penetration. Barnes would provide that "second shooter" for ISU, making it much more difficult for teams to take away the paint from the Cyclones. Then, if Iowa State adds a third consistent three-point shooter (Blalock?) to the picture, the floor should be spread out pretty well.

We'll find out soon enough if Barnes will be joining the Iowa State team. I am optimistic that it will happen…and I'm even more optimistic what he may bring to the table for the Cyclones.

So, how is Shane Power faring these days?

Has it really been almost two years ago that Shane Power left Iowa State? Geez. Everyone had an opinion back then about WHY Power was leaving…and who really knows the whole story. Sometimes, things just don't work out. That's the way it is.

Just in case you were wondering, I wanted to relay Power's statistics so far this season for Mississippi State, which is 8-0. Power is averaging 8.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 24.9 minutes of playing time per game. Those are pretty solid numbers, but nothing all that spectacular from the fourth-year junior. It seems to me that a couple of years ago, he played nearly every minute of most games as a sophomore at Iowa State.

So far this year, his highest single-game point total is 11 and he has a high of 8 rebounds. Right now, Power is fifth on the team in scoring, fourth in rebounding, fifth in assists, fifth in playing time and third in three-point shooting.

Visions of Lafester dancing in my head…or something

I'm looking forward to Iowa State's game at Drake on Saturday, as it should be an up-tempo, high-scoring game. I think Coach Morgan and Coach Tom Davis will enjoy the pace of this one as both guys like their teams to get out and run.

It's hard to think about Iowa State and Tom Davis without remembering that amazing night of December 19, 1987—yes, it's been 16 years ago! SIXTEEN YEARS!

(Pause to realize that I'm turning into a version of my father.)

Lafester Rhodes might have had the most funky release of any player in Cyclone history, but for that one night, the 6-8 southpaw may have been the best player in college basketball.

54 points. 20 field goals. 5 three-pointers. 9 free throws.

The Cyclones defeated the Hawkeyes of Coach Davis, 102 to 100, in overtime at Hilton Coliseum in one of the most entertaining games in the history of college basketball in Iowa.

(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)

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