Steve Prohm says there’s more to Tyrese Haliburton than being a wonderful basketball player
Des Moines Register
It was tough enough for Iowa State to win games with its best player performing at his highest, so what’s expected now that he’s sidelined for the remainder of the season because of a broken left wrist?
We’ll see, because life after Tyrese Haliburton starts Wednesday night.
Rasir Bolton gets first crack becoming the full-time point guard — at replacing the sophomore who NBA scouts predict can be a lottery pick during the June draft. He’s the Penn State transfer, and just think what it’d be like right now had the NCAA not granted him immediate eligibility?
On second thought, don’t even bother wondering how the next nine games, at least, would go without a major-college and battle-tested player initiating the offense, handling the ball under pressure and leading the team not only by example, but in the box score, too.
“It’s not a huge change,” the soft-spoken Bolton said. “I’ve played point guard before.”
He’s averaged 17.1 points and 2.8 assists since Haliburton sprained his wrist before the Jan. 31 game against Florida A&M. Recently, he’s mostly played the point, as opponents focused defenses on the Cyclones’ star player.
“It’s about taking care of the ball and making plays for others,” Bolton said. “It’s keeping the leadership up and playing with high energy … just playing the right way.
“Tyrese has helped me a lot on that aspect.”
Bolton can handle it, but whether he’s Iowa State’s point guard of the future — I don’t know. It could be freshman Tre Jackson, so I’d expect him to get some play-making time, as well, between Wednesday and however many games remain this season.
“Rasir will be the primary point,” coach Steve Prohm said. “I wouldn’t mind seeing him at that position. His assist to turnover ratio (2.7 assists a game and 2.7 turnovers) — we have to improve that area. He has to improve finishing plays. You’ve got to do it every day — on the floor and in the film room — and you’ve got to do it within the game.
“I’m excited for him. I’m excited for him to get that opportunity and see how much he can grow.”
Haliburton opened the season at the point, but as defenses adjusted, Bolton assumed more of an on-ball role. He’s a so-so perimeter shooter. He’s very good at driving to the rim and getting to the free-throw line, where his 111 free throws is fifth among Big 12 players.
“We’ve really thrown Tyrese and (Bolton) back and forth (at point guard) this year, just because people and guarding Tyrese so many different ways,” Prohm said. “I’d rather have two or three skill-level guys out there at one time that can dribble, pass and shoot. That’s what makes offenses hard to guard. Having two point guards out there is actually good for us.”
Regardless, Haliburton will be around to mentor whichever player assumes the role. He was expected to make the trip to Oklahoma, where the Cyclones can use as many cheerleaders as possible against a team that just beat West Virginia.
“I think people think that somebody’s going to step in and do what I do, but you just have to do your role, and know what that role is now,” Haliburton said Monday. “I get hurt, and your role moves up. No matter where you are, you move up on the totem pole in helping this team out.”
For now, it’s on Bolton, who actually has become Iowa State’s top scorer, at 15.3 points a game, compared to Haliburton finishing the season at 15.2.
It’s on Prentiss Nixon or Terrence Lewis, one of whom moves into the starting lineup. It’s on Jackson, who’s started the past three games.
It’s on the bigs, too. It’s on everyone, because replacing a potential NBA lottery pick isn’t a one-player proposition. It’s everybody, and that includes Solomon Young, George Conditt and Mike Jacobson.
“A point of emphasis needs to be to continue to get the ball inside,” Prohm said. “We’ve been successful with that over last couple games.”
Life-after starts against a team Iowa State defeated by 13 points in Ames. Bolton scored 23 points in that game, while Haliburton had 15. Then it’s at 1 p.m. Saturday against Texas in Ames. Then at Kansas on Monday. That starts a tough stretch that includes Feb. 22 against Texas Tech in Ames.
“Let’s see if we can put a winning record together in the back half of the conference season.” Prohm said. “We have great opportunities. Let’s see if we can put a winning record together in this back half of conference play, and see how many wins that is, and go from there.
“We do have big opportunities. This is a big week for us — at Oklahoma, and then at home against Texas.”
It’s a big opportunity, also, to see if anyone successfully assumes Haliburton’s leadership role — now and possibly going forward into next season.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writing for the Des Moines Register for parts of five decades. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at DesMoinesRegister.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.
Source: Des Moines Register