Tyrese Haliburton was a star in Iowa State opener
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — If you’re optimistic after Iowa State’s 110-74 walloping of Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday night at Hilton Coliseum, make sure some form of the word “cautious” accompanies each talking point except one.
Tyrese Haliburton was off-the-charts good, and I don’t care that it was against a team that will be one of the worst in college basketball. The only mistakes this future pro made while playing 30 of 40 minutes in the season-opener was when he was being selfless, and if that’s a fault, then we all should have that problem.
He wasn’t just teasing a triple-double, this sophomore was in range for a quadruple-double — a mighty accomplishment regardless of opponent. And I still don’t quite understand why this athletically gifted guy from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, wasn’t recruited heavily, but good for coach Steve Prohm. He saw something others must have missed.
“Tyrese has a lot of good,” Prohm said late Tuesday. “Everybody is a big fan of his.”
Up next: At Oregon State
Sure, everything ramps up in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game at Oregon State, but as far as Game One of what could be another NCAA Tournament-bound season — Haliburton owned the night.
He scored 12 points. He had 14 assists and seven rebounds. Glance over to the steals column on the box score and you’ll see six.
Talk about filling a stat sheet.
It reminds me what a healthy Nick Weiler-Babb did a few times while running the point and being a talented do-everything player the past couple seasons.
“We kind of look alike, except I’m not as big and don’t have tattoos,” Haliburton mused after Tuesday’s game. “He always filled the stats. He might not have scored 25 all the time, but he was always going to make a big impact.”
The 6-foot-5 point guard won’t have statistical lines like Tuesday’s all the time, as long as teammates continue to carry their load. Expect between 16 and 22 points, at least seven assists and around seven rebounds each game. That’s realistic, whether the opponent is Purdue-Fort Wayne on Dec. 22 or Kansas on Jan. 8.
Haliburton’s flaw: He’s too unselfish
“He’s got to continue to grow in the role that he has for this team,” Prohm said. “He may never get 20 or 25 (points), but if he can get points, assists, rebounds steals — that’s how he can lead this team. If he can do that, he gives us a chance.”
Haliburton is not perfect, by any means. His major flaw Tuesday?
“He turned down some good (three-point) looks that I think he needs to take,” Prohm said. “Some of his (three) turnovers came on trying to be too unselfish.”
That’s Haliburton’s DNA. It’s why The Sporting News predicts this floor leader to be a first-round selection on the 2021 NBA Draft — No. 16 to Detroit, to be more specific.
He makes teammates better. He’s got Monte Morris-like court vision.
He caused havoc with his long arms in the passing lanes. He ran the floor with authority. He even took more than the five or so shots a game he averaged last season, and that’s something that must continue for this team to have success.
What impressed Haliburton? Rebounds, of course
While last season, he left most of the scoring to Marial Shayok, Talen Horton-Tucker and Lindell Wigginton, this is his team now. He knows it. Tuesday night, he played like it.
“The biggest thing is having guys like Tyrese with 14 assists,” Mike Jacobson said after his 20-point, 9-rebound game in just more than 20 minutes. “Everyone was sharing the ball and moving the ball. The ball wasn’t sticking out there.”
It wasn’t sticking, because Iowa State had 32 assists, three shy of the school’s record.
“We know how good we can be when we’re locked in,” Haliburton said. “The road to success isn’t a straight line. It’s up and down.”
I asked him what aspect of his sensational statistical line most stuck out. I fully expected the answer to be something about the assists.
“I would say seven rebounds,” Haliburton said. “That’s what coach Prohm and the staff challenged me on this summer — with Babb gone, to become a better rebounding guard.”
He’s a team-first guy, who gets pleasure seeing others score — like during Tuesday’s second half, when his drop-back assist to Jacobson resulted in a crowd-pleasing dunk.
Haliburton could just as well have scored that basket — possibly even up and over a defender on a thundering jam. He knew, though, that the 6-9 Jacobson was trailing. He rewarded the big guy’s running the floor.
He was a perfect role model to rookies around him who made successful collegiate debuts.
“Last year, I remember that I couldn’t wait to get on the floor,” Haliburton said. “I remember for the first 10 games, my hands would shake non-stop before the games.”
There’s nothing shaking now. His confidence-level is as steady, as his out-of-the-gate nearly 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
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