ISU Players Shine at Capital City League

I had the opportunity to check out the first round of games of the Capital City League in Des Moines. In the first part of our Capital City coverage I am focusing on the four prominent Cyclones that participated in the second game: Michael Taylor, Corey McIntosh, Cory Johnson, and Alex Thompson.

Initial Observations:

 

Mike Taylor and Corey McIntosh won't be mistaken for body-builders anytime soon. I stood next to both on the baseline and estimate Taylor is 6'1-6'2 and only around 175 pounds. McIntosh has a more solid build, but is probably no bigger than 5'9 170. Thankfully, this would be about the only negative from these two tonight.

 

Alex Thompson looks to be in great shape. He is a legit 6'9 and carries much more weight than Hubalek or Marsden did last year. I'd put him at about 235. He is well-defined and looked very focused on the task at hand.

 

Cory Johnson looks like a Big 12 player. He is put-together. He measures at around 6'7 and also around 235-240. He stood next to Drake's Aliou Keita (who is a monster) and compared favorably. Granted, he isn't as ripped as Keita, but Johnson should have no problem making the leap to college size-wise.

 

McIntosh and C.J. suited up on the Coca-Cola team along with Drake Players Ajay Calvin, and Adam Emenecker (walk-on). Also on the Coke team, former ISU and UNI center Tyler Peterson.

 

Mike Taylor and Alex Thompson headlined the MOHA team. Also on the team were Drake player Chris Bryant and incoming Bulldog Keith Worner. The three Korver brothers were not in attendance.

 

It was apparent right away Taylor and McIntosh are comfortable around each other. They were having some fun together during warm-ups and exchanging some old fashioned smack.  

 

Game time:

 

Mike Taylor:

Right of the tip Taylor matched up with Corey McIntosh. Taylor plays with a very nice tempo. He is lightening quick with the ball, but also able to stay under control. His game struck me as very similar to the Dallas Mavericks Jason Terry. Right off the bat, he spun into the lane and hung in the air over a few defenders to convert an athletic lay-up. On the next few possessions he attacked his defender and was able to get to the free-throw line. His shot has great form and rhythm. He was lethal in the open floor, always finding the open man. Early on he did a great job of involving his teammates, setting up Alex Thompson on three straight penetration moves. Nobody could stay in front of him. On one possession he drew two defenders and fired a pass to Chris Bryant for an easy dunk. Byrant had eight consecutive points thanks to four tremendous feeds from Taylor. Taylor showed good range on his jump-shot, hitting two 3's from the right wing. He also converted on mid-range jumpshot in transition. Great instincts.

 

Defensively, he was able to stay in front of an equally quick McIntosh early on. He really got after it. Attacked the glass and immediately pushed the ball up the floor. Really challenges people on defense. After Cory Johnson beat his defender of the dribble, Taylor came from the weakside to deflect his shot away. Looked determined to not let McIntosh beat him off the dribble. Drew a charge after Ajay Calvin barged threw the lane…in a summer league game! Plays at a high level at all times.

 

I came away completely impressed by Taylor. He doesn't have the ball-handling of Tinsley, or the range of Nurse, or the build of Stinson and Blalock, but he is a complete basketball player. Watch Jason Terry during the finals and you will get a great idea of what Taylor brings to the table.

 

Corey McIntosh:

 

Remarkable competitor. No other way around it. Isn't blessed with great size, but uses his abilities to the max. From the tip, he looked to get his teammates involved. In fact, McIntosh didn't take a shot until five minutes in. Great vision. When McIntosh is in the open court, somebody inevitably ended up with a lay-up. He never forced his offense. He took care of the ball, and couldn't have had more than two turnovers. Shot was a bit inconsistent. His shooting motion is a bit jerky, but prolific scoring isn't his game. Nailed two threes when left open. Converted on several pull-up jumpshots from 15 feet and in. Had three straight assists in a 50 second stretch. Great ball-handler. On one play he scrambled for a loose ball, dribbled around and through three defenders and lofted a pass to a teammate for an alley-oop tomahawk. He and Taylor were far and away the quickest guys on the floor. He reminded me of an under control Tim Barnes, or to go back a few more years, Ron Bayless. Pushed the ball whenever he could.

 

With his team down 14 with six minutes left in the half, McIntosh took over. He scored 10 of their 16 points in a three minute stretch. Attacked the basket, converting two straight "And 1's." Fearless. He constantly encouraged his teammates. A desire to win.

 

Defensively, he consistently had his hands around the ball. Any loose ball, he pounced on. Gritty defender. Very good on-the-ball skills. Never gives up on a play. Taylor was able to get past him on a few occasions but he was able to recover and disrupt the play. Drew two charges thanks to tremendous position. He really gets after it.

 

I can see why McIntosh rarely lost in his time at JUCO. He is the classic point guard in that he raises the play of everyone around him. But he can score if left open. Like Taylor, if you lose track of him for the slightest second, somebody will get a lay-up. He competed like heck. Simply, he's a winner.

 

Cory Johnson :

 

Johnson had the tough duty of matching up with the seasoned Alex Thompson. Those two battled throughout. Neither backed down. Johnson displayed a nice array of offensive moves. He is comfortable handling the ball in transition and in the rhythm of the offense. Early on, he pressed and turned it over on a few occasions. Looked a bit jittery. Wasn't afraid to attack Thompson. He initiated offense from the wing on most occasions. Shot has great arch to it. Fundamentally sound on his shot and footwork. Ferocious on the offensive glass. Got three put-backs off of offensive boards. Hit a three with Thompson in his face. Not timid at all. Good vision in the open floor. Confident finisher. He won't blow you away with his quickness, but he is athletic enough to keep the defense honest.

 

He is an extremely tough defender. Didn't give up on any play. Disrupted a few shots. Very physical. Bodied up Thompson in the post. Showed great rebounding position. Uses his body well to block out. Very solid.

 

Cory Johnson won't wow you with his athleticism or array of moves, but he will get a lot of second chance buckets and hit the open jumper. He may take a few games to adjust to the college level offensively. Defensively, he should more than hold his own. Seemed to enjoy contact. Game is very similar to Greg Brunner's.

 

Alex Thompson:  

 

If Thompson doesn't average 10 points a game as a junior, I will be extremely surprised. He has all the tools. Moves very well for his large frame. Great body control in the open court. Knocked down the mid-range jumper consistently. Text-book form on his jumpshot. Displayed confidence I hadn't seen from him at Iowa. Looked very comfortable and in control of himself. Strong player around the basket. Displayed a repertoire of post-moves. Comfortable shooting with both hands around basket. Scored at least 14 points in the first 6 minutes. Dominated the game early on. Attacked rebounds on both ends.

 

Defensively he took up space in the middle and patrolled the lane. Blocked three shots in the first 10 minutes. He stayed in front of C.J. on the perimeter, not getting beat off the dribble. Good work ethic inside. Very focused.

 

Before you think I'm crazy, I watched Alex Thompson almost every game when he was at Iowa and he looked completely different tonight. If he gains confidence in himself (which a year off will no doubt help) he will be in the starting line-up come his junior year. The Thompson I saw tonight was 10 times better than the one that played for Iowa. At Iowa he looked aloof, out-of-control and uncomfortable. Tonight he was just the opposite: focused, under control and in his element. He is more skilled on both ends of the floor than any big-man ISU has right now. Call me nuts if you want, and I'm sure you will. Just remember what I wrote come next year.

 

There is great reason to be excited about the future. I am naturally very skeptical of new players, but tonight I left the building feeling a lot better about the immediate future of the program.  Granted, it was only a summer league game against inferior talent, but I think they have the tools and desire to win. That was the one thing that resonated with me the most: drive and determination. When I went to the games the last two years in Des Moines, guys like Stinson, Blalock and Taggart would make a spectacular play and then fire three straight balls off of the wall for a turnover. Those three also took a considerable amount of plays off. I didn't see any of that tonight. Taylor and McIntosh made the right play consistently and went full throttle throughout. Same could be said about Johnson and Thompson. I'm not predicting a Big 12 Championship next year by any means; these guys are going to have some tough growing pains. But I can guarantee you will enjoy the way they play the game.

 

Look forward in the coming weeks for detailed analysis of the rest of the Cyclones at the Capital City League.

 

 


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