CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Next winter, Johnny Moran will have to be "The Man."

Anthony James will have to provide points in bunches and lead like Kwadzo Ahelegbe.

Jake Koch and Austin Pehl will have to be consistent producers in the post.

And, at least one of five talented true freshmen will have to supply some of the intensity Lucas O'Rear once did.

Those are Coach Ben Jacobson's thoughts as he turns his attention toward the 2011-12 Northern Iowa men's basketball season.

After all, with a trip to Brazil looming --- along with summer Prime Time League play --- next season will be here before you know it.

Here are the coach's notes regarding the Panther roster ...

Seniors

JOHNNY MORAN, PG/SG

Year in review: 9.6 ppg, 41.1 percent FGs in 34 starts

Instant analysis: Simply put, the Panthers couldn't have gone 20-14 without the 6-1 sharpshooter, who improved his marksmanship immensely in 2010-11. Next year, many of the clutch, late-game shots that Kwadzo Ahelegbe used to take will fall on Moran, currently recovering from shoulder surgery.

Coach Jake's take: "He put together an extremely solid year. His leadership is going to be important, obviously; Johnny is the only senior (now). But he's been in that kind of role, really his entire playing career. When I watched him play in high school he was the guy.

"I'm looking forward to Johnny having a big senior year." 

Juniors 

ANTHONY JAMES, SG

Year in review: 12.4 ppg, 50 percent FGs in 31 starts

Instant analysis: Easily the biggest breakout star of the season, James had several big games, like when he poured in 23 points versus New Mexico in December. It'll be interesting to see what he can do when he's granted 15 or so shots a game. He averaged just 9.4 shots per outing as a sophomore.

Coach Jake's take: "A.J.'s coming off a good season, a very consistent year. We're going to count on him to play a big role on our team going forward.

"The hard work paid off for him. ... So now he's right back at it. He got a taste of it and he wants more." 

JAKE KOCH, PF

Year in review: 9.8 ppg, 5.0 rbg in 34 starts

Instant analysis: Koch was inconsistent at times. He poured in 34 points against Bradley at mid-season but also scored four or fewer points in seven contests. An ankle injury appeared to limit him more than he let on, though.

Coach Jake's take: "This was a great year for Jake in terms of the number of different things he learned. We saw some nights where he was as good as anybody in our league. He (also) had some nights where he didn't play as well as he knew he could. Being in a full-time role for the first time is different for everybody.

"I'm looking forward to him getting healthy and then getting back to work."

Marc Sonnen, pg/sg

Year in review: 4.8 ppg, led team in charges

Instant analysis: The 6-3 guard displayed versatility, guarding multiple positions and playing with little regard for his own well-being. The solid floor games were nice, but he'll have to score more next season and shoot better than 32.5 percent from 3-point range.

Coach Jake's take: "The first half of the season he wasn't playing at a level that he feels he should have. ... Some of that had to do with guys learning their roles. But, at about the midway point, Marc was playing at a (high) level.

"I think he's going to have a big-time year."

Austin Pehl, c

Year in review: 2.0 ppg, 2.4 rbg, 10 starts

Instant analysis: Pehl needs to improve his footwork defensively, his ability to defend without fouling, and, on offense, he can't be so reliant on his hook shot. Yet, his blend of athleticism and brute strength make him intriguing.

Coach Jake's take: "He's still got some improvements that need to be made at both ends of the floor. I think (his) development defensively and in terms of rebounding (could) really help our team.

"Everything's in the right place, and now we just need to use the experience he got last year and put that to good use - and then work your tail off to be a better player next year. And I think he can do that."

 

SOPHOMORES

Chip Rank, pf

Year in review: 3.4 ppg, 2.2 rbg, 38.1 percent FGs

Instant analysis: Clearly, Lucas O'Rear rubbed off on the 6-6, 222-pound youngster as he fearlessly battled foes up and down the court. The weight room could be key for Rank, considering he'll have to guard post players for the foreseeable future.

Coach Jake's take: "I really liked Chip's freshman year. You continued to see him shoot the ball at a high rate, more confidently and consistently. He was sticking his nose in there and fighting.

"He's undersized, but at the same time he's not afraid of anything ... so he's going to handle himself fine."

Matt Morrison, pg

Year in review: 1.2 ppg in 22 contests

Instant analysis: Morrison struggled a bit with confidence as a redshirt freshman, shooting 29.2 percent in limited minutes.

Coach Jake's take: "It wasn't until probably the last month, month-and-a-half of the year where Matt was playing with some confidence and got comfortable. A lot of that's because he wasn't playing very many minutes, and that's a hard situation to be in.

"I've got a lot of confidence that he's going to be a good player for us."

Tyler Lange, c/pf

Year in review: 0.7 ppg in 11 contests

Instant analysis: At 6-6, 220, Lange is a classic ‘tweener. Yet, he has shown he can be a sturdy defender down low in practices.

Coach Jake's take: "He improved a lot over the course of the year and showed some signs that were really encouraging. Obviously he's a little undersized ... but he's stronger than when he got here. He'll be in the mix at that center position."

 

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN

Nate Buss, pf

Instant analysis: Buss looked solid this season in practices with a fairly versatile game that includes a fluid perimeter jumper. He'll be an option as a perimeter-oriented power forward next winter.

Coach Jake's take: "Nate had a very good redshirt year. He was able to put on some weight and strength. He's got a real knack for scoring. ... He has the ability to find a role on our team, because he can score it from the 3-point line, put it on the floor a little and he can post up a little."

Max Martino, sg

Instant analysis: Martino has a unique style of play that hasn't been seen around Cedar Falls for awhile. He takes the occasional running shot in the lane, for example - a little like former Iowa State standout Jeff Hornacek.

Coach Jake's take: "He was one of the best defenders on our team. ... (Martino's game) is maybe a bit of a throwback type of game. It's a physical game - and that fits our team well."

Jarod Syndergaard, pg

Instant analysis: Syndergaard, a 6-1 native of Sutherland, boasts solid quickness. In practice, he looked like he could be a reliable point guard if called upon, though it's worth noting that UNI now has nine guards on its roster.

Coach Jake's take: "Jarod made some real improvements as a basketball player. He came in as a really good athlete - strong and physical. Over the course of the year he just learned to become a better player, and for him that's an important part of his development."

James Humpal, pf/c

Instant analysis: Humpal endured an injury last season that put his left knee in a brace and sidelined him for an extended stint. The 6-5 Waterloo Columbus grad had to work hard just to get back for some late-season practices.

Coach Jake's take: "James worked his tail off this year. He had to battle a little bit of a knee injury. He just worked extremely hard. He did a great job with the scout team."

 

TRUE FRESHMEN

Deon Mitchell, pg

Instant analysis: The 5-10 Pflugerville, Texas, native ended his high school career in style this winter, earning Class 5A all-state honors. By all accounts, he's a stellar point guard who protects the ball and possesses impressive quickness.

Coach Jake's take: "Deon had a great high school career and a great senior year. He was the central Texas player of the year. He's got a good sense for how to play the game.

"He's a point guard that can score, but is much more interested in involving his teammates."

Marvin Singleton, pf

Instant analysis: Singleton, a 6-4, 225-pound Minneapolis native, has a knack for rebounding. And winning. His Hopkins squad won nearly 120 games during his decorated prep career.

Coach Jake's take: "All he knows is three straight state championships. I think he lost five games in his entire high school career. He's a big, strong, physical player. He's kind of a combo forward, and right now he's probably more of a power forward."

JeVon Lyle, g

Instant analysis: Lyle, a 6-1 native of Kansas City, earned acclaim in recent years for his on-the-ball defense and ability to catch-and-shoot. A late-season suspension this winter was his only blemish.

Coach Jake's take: "Unfortunately, he had an incident at the end of the season. It was just an unfortunate situation that happened, and it's done with and has been dealt with. We obviously have known JeVon and his family for a long, long time. He's a terrific young kid.

"But, that situation aside, I think he's going to bring some excitement to our team."

Seth Tuttle, pf

Instant analysis: The 6-8 West Fork star averaged 19.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season, leading his squad to a state title. He plays with grit, intensity and passion - which Jacobson welcomes with open arms.

Coach Jake's take: "He's very unselfish. And he's extremely committed to winning. He wears (his emotions) out there on his sleeve and that's what we've got to have, especially with the graduation of Luke (O'Rear)."

Matt Bohannon, sg

Instant analysis: On a state-champion Linn-Mar team loaded with talent, Bohannon often stood out due to his scoring ability (16.2 points per game) and his marksmanship (42.7 percent on 3s).

Coach Jake's take: "Matt has gotten better every year - and I don't see that stopping. He's committed to being a really good player. Two years ago, he was more of a stand-still shooter. Now he's a much more consistent 3-point shooter and he can handle it and pass it."

 

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.