By Abe Burzette
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
When it was announced before the season that senior Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim could miss 4-6 weeks with a hyperextended left knee and bone bruise, Cyclone fans everywhere wondered how head coach Fred Hoiberg would replace the Big 12 Conference’s leading rebounder from a year ago.
Enter Dustin Hogue.
Hogue, a 6’6” 215 pound transfer from Indian Hills Community College, averaged 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his last season with the Warriors. So far this season, Hogue is averaging 12.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game and currently leads the Big 12 in boards.
According to Hogue, however, he did not expect to have such a huge role on this year’s team.
“Coming in, I didn’t know how much I’d be playing or if I’d be playing,” Hogue said. “My competitiveness made me work a little harder this preseason and do what I needed to do off the court and in practice to try to get more minutes on the court.”
“I just thought that I needed to find a way to get on the floor more. I’ve never thought of myself as a scorer, so I just felt if I was able to get on the floor in a different way that I would find minutes.”
Although he did not expect to play a huge role on the team, Hogue had specific goals coming into the season.
“My goals were definitely be the energy guy and to help out on the defensive end,” Hogue said. “I know Iowa State can score, so I’ve always thought that if I was able to rebound and help Melvin rebound that would lead to him scoring more.”
As well as being an energetic and defensive force, Hogue believes he brings “a certain toughness that Iowa State hasn’t seen in a long time.”
Before Ejim’s injury, Hogue said that the two would battle each other for rebounds in practice and they would keep track of those numbers on a white board. Once Ejim went down, Hogue says he saw the opportunity to make an impact on the team.
“His absence helped me solidify myself as an aggressive rebounder and make more moves because he wasn’t on the floor,” Hogue said.
Sophomore guard Naz Long echoed this and said that Hogue and Ejim want to be the guy for the Cyclones when it comes to rebounds.
“They definitely let it be known that both of them want to have the most rebounds at the end of the game,” Long said.
In addition to Ejim’s absence to start the season, Hogue said Hoiberg’s system has allowed him to flourish.
“Fred’s system is always spacing the floor and get a lot of shots up,” Hogue said. “Because we are such a high scoring team and the fact that we get a lot of shots up, it gives you more opportunities to rebound.”
Despite Ejim’s return to the team against Michigan on Nov. 17, Hogue’s productivity has not diminished, instead it has increased, grabbing a team high 16 rebounds against Auburn and Iowa.
Hoiberg was also quick to praise Hogue’s performance this season.
“That’s who Dustin is, he’s a guy that’s going to go and get those rebounds,” Hoiberg said. “If there’s a scrum, he’s going to be the one that comes out with it.”
Along with his rebounding, Hogue has connected on 7-of-14 three point attempts this season. This caught Hogue off guard, who said his three point shot has always been a weakness.
“It was definitely a surprise because I’ve never shot this well from the three in my life,” Hogue said. “Fred was such a good three-point shooter and he’s working with me every day, helping my form, remain calm, and be confident in my three point shot.”
Hoiberg has notably given his players the freedom to shoot the ball and Hogue says that has helped him perform on offense this season.
“He gives me the green light [to shoot the three],” Hogue said. “I don’t abuse it too much but I use it from time to time.”
As for the rest of the season, Hogue has a goal in mind that has not happened at Iowa State since the 1978-79 season when Dean Uthoff averaged 10.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game for the Cyclones.
“My goal is to maintain a double-double,” Hogue said. “Since we are such a good scoring team, if I can get about 10 rebounds a game, that’s 20 points the other team could possibly not get.”
“I think if I do my role, then we’ll be a successful team.”