Iowa State’s three-point line struggles continue in Battle 4 Atlantis opener against Michigan
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Juwan Howard didn’t mince words after the unbeaten Michigan team he coaches weathered a late-game Tyrese Haliburton takeover.
When asked to evaluate the Cyclones’ superstar, the former NBA all-star and assistant coach went all-in.
“I don’t use this word loosely, but in my opinion, he’s a pro,” Howard said after Haliburton did his late-game darndest to prevent what became an 83-76 loss Wednesday in the opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“I don’t know when he’s going to decide and go play on the next level, but he’s got a great chance. He’s a great passer. He sees plays before they happen. (Wednesday), he was aggressive offensively. He showed folks he can score from the outside.”
The former Michigan Fab Fiver wasn’t finished.
“He played on Team USA. He won a gold medal. That speaks for itself, and he plays for a great coach.”
The 6-foot-5 sophomore clearly was the best player on the makeshift court inside the giant ballroom on the rounds of this expansive resort. He scored 25 points. He had nine rebounds and five assists. He had four steals. During his 40 minutes on the court, he captured the attention of the many NBA scouts seated nearby on press row.
Yeah, that’s right. He played the entire game.
“I need to get him a rest here and there,” coach Steve Prohm said after scanning the box score.
Maybe, but now wouldn’t appear to be the appropriate time. His team needs all the Tyrese Haliburton it can get — and the sooner in games, the better.
For Iowa State to have success in Thursday’s 5:30 p.m. game against Alabama, Haliburton has to be dominant early. From Iowa State’s first possession to its last, the team’s best player must take over. Not only must he continue to facilitate better than any college player in the country, he must also look to score.
Until his teammates have proven they’ve mastered the art of putting the ball in the basket, this ultra-talented guy must take over.
“He’s a passer — a willing passer, and an elite passer,” Prohm said. “I think there are times he does need to score. We have to finish some plays around the basket and make a couple shots.”
That’s an understatement.
My guess continues to be this isn’t as bad a 3-point shooting team as the statistics may show, but you also must wonder after the Cyclones missed 16 of 21 3-point shots while falling to 3-2 on Wednesday. That brings the miserable tally to 13-for-68 over the past three games.
That might be all right when the opponents are of the ilk of Northern Illinois and Southern Mississippi. But against a Michigan?
Forget it. Even though the Wolverines made 10 of their 21 shots from distance, Iowa State still could have advanced to Thursday’s semifinal against fourth-ranked North Carolina with a handful or so more 3-pointers.
“Our program over the past several years — we’ve been near the top in 3-point shooting,” Prohm said. “We missed two wide-open 3s late in the game that could have cut it to six or seven. Probably a third of them were bad.
“Our thing is that we need to make a third more of the good ones. If we do that, then now we’ve got 82 or 85 points and are in position to win the game.”
Rasir Bolton, a 36.1% 3-point shooter last season as a Penn State freshman, is 0-for-11 over the past three games. He’s 2-for-20 this season. Haliburton’s 3-for-10 effort against the Wolverines makes him on a 4-for-17 run. Prentiss Nixon is also in a 4-for-17 stretch.
Some teams can get away with that. Iowa State can, too, with flawless defense. That aspect was OK at times Wednesday, but at other times it wasn’t against a team that shot 47.6% from the arc.
“In the first half, all their 3s came in transition,” Prohm said. “It was our bad offense leading to their good offense. We have to figure out how to be good enough defensively to win.”
Until then, Haliburton must take control. Forget the team-first mentality. Take over a game at the start, like he did at the end, when he scored 11 points in the game’s closing 6½ minutes.
“He led us in scoring, but I don’t think that’s the strength of his game,” Prohm said. “The strength of his game is really facilitating. He made some big plays for us.”
“Man, that dude sees every part of the floor,” Michigan’s Isaiah Livers said. “He’s a long, lanky point guard. He’s a great leader, to be that young. He’s going to have a great career.”
His already-great career includes an admirable pass-first, shoot-second mentality. For a while — like until 3-point shots start splashing nets — Iowa State can use as much of the latter as they can get.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writing for the Des Moines Register for parts of five decades. Reach him at email@example.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.
Source: Des Moines Register