AMES - Eat. Drive. Shoot.
It’s a roundball-centered routine that Iowa State transfers Korie Lucious and Will Clyburn established quickly while redshirting last season — one bite, rebound and jumper at a time.
“(We) clicked right away,” Clyburn, a high-scoring 6-7 transfer from Utah, said during media day Wednesday at the Sukup Practice Facility. “We were always close, then when the road games came, we were always in the gym together, working out. Then we watched the games together, so we were always keeping each other in high spirits; making sure we were doing the right things. Now we’re almost like best friends.”
ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg said this team’s chemistry — despite losing the top three scorers from last season’s 23-11 NCAA tournament third-round team — ranks among the best he’s seen.
“This is a group that’s going to be very easy to root for because of the type of kids they are,” said Hoiberg, who used a transfer-based approach to quickly rebuild his alma mater into an NCAA tournament-level team. “They have great work ethics. It’s been as good a group I’ve ever been around — in all the teams that I’ve played for and certainly in the third year of coaching here.”
That’s saying something. Last season, Royce White, Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen combined for 38 of the Cyclones’ 73 points per game.
White — now with the NBA’s Houston Rockets — emerged as a point-forward, with the offense frequently running through his capable hands.
“You wont see us with a 6-8, 270-pound freight train going down the middle of the court,” Hoiberg said. “What that will allow us to do, I think, is play a little faster.”
Now ISU has a true starting point guard again in Lucious, who played in two Final Fours for Michigan State before being dismissed from the team for undisclosed reasons.
“I’m a winner,” Lucious said.
“It’s Final Four experience,” he said. “He brings winning.”
Clyburn brings a unique skill set that Hoiberg said could slot him in the two, three, or four spot as situations warrant. He averaged 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Utes in 2010-11 while draining 40.3 percent of his 3-point attempts.
“I’m a competitor,” said Clyburn, whose brother, Terrell, is a freshman at Marshalltown Community College. “Someone that’s going to go out there and give his all; do whatever it takes. Someone who’s going to score the ball and just have fun out there.”
Becoming a 6-7, 210-pound bullet train at the point may be a possibility for Clyburn, too, as minutes pile up for Lucious and freshman Naz Long.
“I put the ball in Will’s hands one day and really liked what I saw,” Hoiberg said. “I think you saw last year I’m pretty comfortable playing outside the box.”
Pretty used to being placed inside of one, as well. Early returns from national publications project the Cyclones as sixth or eighth in the Big 12. They were tabbed eighth last preseason and ended up tied for third (12-6).
“We have high expectations for this team,” said Babb, a lockdown defender last season. “With the talent level we have and the experience we have, I think the sky’s the limit.”
That’s where Lucious and Clyburn are aiming — joined at the elbow.“We did everything together,” Lucious said. “We really didn’t have a choice.”