Iowa State guard Bubu Palo's season might finally begin Saturday against Kansas State after the Iowa Supreme Court temporarily re-instated his eligibility while his case continues to make its way through the courts, according to the Ames Tribune Friday. Palo and another man were accused of second-degree sexual assault, the newspaper notes, but all charges were dropped in January 2013. However, Iowa State president Steven Leath made the decision not to allow Palo to play this year, despite allowing him to remain enrolled as a student of the school.
If Palo, who averaged 12.5 minutes and 2.8 points for the Cyclones in 2012-13, steps on the court for the 1:45 p.m. ET game (on ESPN3), he might be able to immediately help his team pull out of its recent struggles. After peaking at No. 8 in the Associated Press rankings during a 14-game winning streak, the team has dropped down to the 16th position during its current three-game losing streak.
A lot of things have been causing problems for Iowa State recently. In the three losses, the team broke 40 percent shooting only one time, against Oklahoma. When facing Kansas, the Cyclones shot 31.4 percent from the field and 63.2 percent from the charity stripe. The only reasons ISU wasn't blown out were 24 turnovers and free throw ineptitude by the Jayhawks.
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The one time that the Cyclones have shot well during the slide was a 52.3 percent outing against OU. Holding ISU back in that game was an issue with giving too many extra possessions to the Sooners, whether it be by turnovers (19) or on the glass (minus-five rebounding margin).
A big issue for the Cyclones' offense has been bench scoring. the two main players off of the bench have been Naz Long and Monte Morris. Long was recently inserted into the starting lineup, replacing Matt Thomas. The three each average around 20 minutes per game, and who is going to get the most minutes in a given night depends on how each is playing.
Between the three of them, they average 20.4 points per game, giving coach Fred Hoiberg two scoring options off of the bench in any given game. Over the three-game losing streak, the trio has put together scoring totals of 11, 10 and 15 points. If Palo plays, and there is no guarantee that he does, he could help to shore up the bench that has been relied upon for a lot this season.
What Palo brings is defense and ball-handling. Palo's assist/turnover ratio was a tidy 1.7 last season on a team that didn't turn the ball over much as a whole. He could help to keep the offense running smoothly when the guards ahead of him are in need of a rest or in foul trouble. He knows that if he does play, it won't be all that much. Now, as the Des Moines Register reports, he is focused on not being a distraction to the team by being a leader, helping to mentor his teammates. It is his senior season, and the former walk-on wants to be able to make an impact in any way that he can, just so long as that impact is positive.
"Whether it’s being the best scout team player and the best teammate – it’s not to mess up a great season. I hope to bring depth," Palo told the newspaper. "I can be another leader. It’s pretty documented that we’re a pretty young team."
The Cyclones could use a fresh infusion of something after the rough stretch they have endured. Palo could prove to be just that.