AMES – Iowa State men’s basketball is relying on two post players that hadn’t played in a competitive basketball game in two years before this season.
Hans Brase recovered from two ACL tears in the two years before coming to Iowa State and Cameron Lard transferred high schools before his senior season and arrived late to Iowa State, so he had to take a redshirt year after not playing his senior season.
Both are back on the court and finding their groove. They’ll be needed as Iowa State goes to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines to play Northern Iowa in the Hy-Vee Classic on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Freshman guard Lindell Wigginton didn’t know a lot about the Panthers when the media spoke to him on Monday, but he did hear one thing.
“I just heard that they were physical,” Wigginton said. “They’re big strong guys – they’re farm guys, so they’re strong.”
The Cyclones will need their post players to come up big.
Solomon Young and Jeff Beverly both bring similar things to the court. They’re grit guys that’ll get rebounds and be physical in the paint.
Lard and Brase bring different skill sets.
Lard is a raw athlete, adept at running the floor and finishing in transition. He’s also developing some post moves down low to get points in the half-court.
“I think he can really be a terrific player, not only here at Iowa State, but in the country,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “When he continues to understand early work in the post, defensive rebounding, stance and position and then offensively, we have to do a better job of throwing it inside and emphasizing that. He’s got great touch, great feel, he can make free throws.
“He’s just tapping the surface, and that’s the great thing. He’s made a huge jump from when he got here to now, but I think he’s just skimming the surface of what he can be.”
Lard played just 19 minutes Sunday against Alcorn State, but scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He said he’s the energy guy for Iowa State.
“Just keep running as hard as I can – I’m very good at running the floor considering I’m 6-foot-9,” Lard said. “A lot of bigs can’t run the way I run, so I’ll just keep running as hard as I can.”
Brase has the ability to stretch the floor and hit 3-pointers – something Iowa State desperately needs from its big men so defenses can’t collapse when the guards drive to the basket.
Brase has started slowly, making just 4 of 11 from beyond the arc.
“I think he just needs to continue to get game reps and game shots,” Prohm said. “He’s a guy that I’ve seen over and over be able to make that. The thing we have to do, because he’s getting some open looks, we have to start making some. When he gets his feet set and gets a little bit more comfortable with conditioning and game speed that can start making some, whether it’s 2-4 or 2-5, and start helping spread that out a little bit.”
Brase’s minutes were limited at the beginning of the season, but in the last two games, he’s played more than 24 minutes in each game.
It’s important to get Lard and Brase going against UNI because the Panthers like to slow the game down. Lard gives the Cyclones an opportunity to get out and run in transition. And if Iowa State does have to play in the half-court, Brase gives Iowa State another outside threat.
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Lard is a young player, just scratching the surface of what he can be. Brase is older and coming off of two ACL injuries. His potential is almost at his ceiling, but he can still grow back into what he was.
“You have two front-court guys that haven’t played serious basketball in two years,” Prohm said. “They’re still progressing with a long way to go.”
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