"They tried to take me out of the game and I think it's going to be like that all year," said ISU's top returning scorer Sullivan, who was held to just eight shots in 35 minutes and scored 11 points. "The good thing for me is I've got great players around me. When a defense tries to take me out of it, we sometimes struggled against in the past. But we've got so many good offensive players so it's going to be nice this year."
The Cyclones showed flashes of being a much-improved squad over a season ago, with Vroman, Barnes and true freshman Adam Haluska each scoring in double figures.
But the challenge laid out by head coach Larry Eustachy is to do it for an entire game.
"We're a product of our practices," he said. "Our team just doesn't know and they've got to be prodded and pushed through what it's really going to take to beat a team in our league. The first 10 minutes we played was probably the best we've played in the three games to date. But we were sporadic, played in spurts and got tired. It's not where we have to be. We're not very tough. We are soft and need to get guys tougher."
It was hard for Eustachy to argue with the effort he got from Vroman, however. With center Jared Homan coming off the bench, Vroman stepped in as ISU's starting big man and dominated a Coe squad without one player over 6-foot-6. He hit on 10-of-15 shots from the field, which were mainly layups, to go along with 10 rebounds.
"I think I was more able to take advantage of having a 6-foot-6 post in there," said Vroman. "I had a real height advantage in there, so I tried to take my time, not rush things and finish over them."
Eustachy, usually slow with his praise for newcomers to his team, praised the efforts of Vroman through one regular season and two exhibition games.
"He's tremendous," Eustachy said. "You just wish everybody mirrored him. When he's on the bench, he's the one vocal guy on the bench. Certainly when he's in the game, he's a tremendous factor. If he's not our leader, he's certainly one of our leaders. When he's not in the game you really feel like you're about half the team you were when he was in the game. He doesn't take a play off. As a coach you really learn to appreciate that."
Barnes showed a nice grasp of the Cyclone offense, a good shooting touch from the outside and, more importantly, finished with a great assist-to-turnover ratio. He dished out nine assists Monday night while not making one turnover. Through ISU's first three contests this season, he has 20 assists to just four turnovers.
"He sees the floor really well and pushes the ball up faster," Vroman, the beneficiary of several Barnes assists, said. "He's faster with the ball than most of those guys are without the ball. It's really nice to have it pay off when you run the floor hard."
Still, Eustachy would like to see Barnes improve more on the defensive end.
"He's a good player, but not a complete one by any means," Eustachy said. "He needs to get tougher and be a far better defender. With his talent and being a quick jumper, I think he could be a threat as a defensive rebounder. Right now he's non-existent there. We appreciate the lack of turnovers, but for us to do anything he's got to become more of a complete player."