I’m getting a pretty good feel for Iowa’s new players and how they will contribute in the upcoming season. At the end of the Prime Time League this month, I will write a full analysis of how Iowa basketball shapes up entering the 2009-2010 season. But here’s a look at the newcomers and how I think they can contribute for Iowa.
Iowa coaches will expect only one of the four new players to start, while the other three will contribute in different roles. Freshman Cully Payne will start at the point. Freshman Brennan Cougill will see significant time in the post. Freshman Eric May will play in spurts but his time will be determined by real practice and the non-conference schedule in November. Junior Devon Archie will split time at power forward.
Payne (6-foot) will start and run the show for Coach Todd Lickliter. He’s got plenty of talent, but he’s young and will make mistakes. He’s the first true point guard under Lickliter and demonstrates more interest in running an offense and getting the proper players into position than his predecessors. Payne can shoot fairly well and can drive at times, too. He has struggled in the PTL with more athletic defenders, like Kirkwood’s Kaylon Williams, and can be beaten off the ball by quicker ball-handlers. I’d say he’s a little more skilled at the point than Jeff Peterson but has a lot to prove to match Peterson’s toughness. It’s likely he’s in for a long season squaring off against Penn State’s Talor Battle, Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas and Michigan’s Manny Harris. He’ll do OK but he’ll take his lumps.
May (6-5) is a tremendous athlete. He’s perhaps the most versatile player on the team. He can play inside and outside. He guards at least four positions and brings as much intensity as any player on the court. He’ll contribute by playing hard, but he doesn’t have a defined position right now. I look for May playing about 15 minutes a game rotating from shooting guard to power forward at times.
Cougill (6-10) will see about 40 percent of the action in the post as a back-up to Jarryd Cole. Cougill is a skilled passer and a good shooter. He has decent moves in the post and works hard. He struggles against more physical big men. His conditioning also is improving, but not a strength. The good thing about Cougill is he’s aware of his deficiencies and working on them daily. Right now he’s more of a finesse post player but in two years could be a real solid inside player.
Archie (6-9) is the most athletic player on the team. He’s sleek, can jump and has good moves to the basket. He’s a decent passer and makes good attempts to set screens, a bonus in Lickliter’s system. But Archie doesn’t play real physical and doesn’t appear to fight for position under the basket. He’s a different player than sophomore forward Aaron Fuller, which will make for a good combination at the position. Archie compares favorably with former Iowa player Kurt Looby.
Bottom line: These players will contribute this year but won’t save the world. They likely will supplement their teammates and fill the required roles. Payne, Cougill and May will help build a foundation for Iowa’s future, but like many freshmen, they will experience the lows before the highs.
Here are a couple of highlights from Monday’s Prime Time League: