The Point Guard Battle

Who's the starting point guard this year? Coach Alford wants to know too. With three candidates for the spot, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, the battle for the starting spot in the lineup will be hard-fought and probably not permanently decided before the Big Ten season.

At his press conference during Media Day, Alford talked about the heavy competition at just about every position. While Luke and Reggie are locks for starting spots, they are the only ones, he said. The other three could be Chauncey Leslie, Glen Worley, and Jared Reiner, or they could just as easily be Brody Boyd, Duez Henderson, and Sean Sonderleiter. Or perhaps it would be Pierre Pierce, Worley, and Henderson, with Evans moving over to the 5 like last year. Or…

The first candidate is the only player of the three returning from last year, in Brody Boyd. Last year Boyd played primarily at the 2, opposite Dean Oliver. However, Boyd did bring the ball up the floor as Alford got him used to handling the ball for next year, and he also took his man off the dribble a few times. Nonetheless, Boyd is a shooter at heart, as evidenced by his long-range bombing against Indiana in the Big Ten Championship that helped Iowa rally for the victory. Boyd expressed a great deal of optimism regarding the upcoming practices and their competitive nature, although his natural spot is not at the point. When asked if he was more comfortable at shooting guard, Boyd said, "There's no doubt I'm more comfortable shooting the ball. But adjustments can be made, and hopefully I can live up to those." Based on his returning experience and versatility, it will likely be hard for Alford to keep Boyd out of the rotation.

Chauncey Leslie is the next player on the board. A junior college transfer from Indian Hills, he averaged 10.1 points on a very talented team while earning all-Region honors. In high school, Leslie was also a standout wide receiver, and that speed is evident in his style of play. Alford has taught him in no uncertain terms that Leslie's role is to penetrate and pass to the scorers. His ability to get past his defender and collapse the defense will be key in getting the other guards and forwards solid looks at the basket. The story goes that Alford offered Leslie after Tennessee's fast guards victimized Iowa in the Rainbow Classic early on last year.

Finally, there is incoming freshman Pierre Pierce. Perhaps the most physically talented of the three candidates, Pierce stands at a legit 6'4", and his high school numbers reflect this talent. At Westmont, Pierce averaged a ridiculous 36.4 points per game, to go along with 9.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Like Leslie, Pierce can shoot the 3 with a fair amount of accuracy, but is more likely to drive to the basket. When asked if there would be a big adjustment from being a scorer, Pierre didn't seem to think so. "I was more than a scorer; I did a lot of things… 30 points a game didn't come overnight, it came with a lot of hard work." With any luck, Pierce will bring to Iowa that same work ethic that made him the runner-up in Illinois Mr. Basketball voting to lottery pick Eddy Curry.

While it's clear that Alford's got his toughest choice to make at the point guard spot this year, it's hard to think that he could go wrong with any of the three. With a freshman, sophomore, and junior at the position, the future is very bright for ball-handlers at Iowa!

(Editor's Note from 0044: Right now Pierre is looking as the favorite to land the starting Point Guard spot because of his size and versatility. He had a great performance in this past weekend's Black&Gold Blowout)

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