Burnham gets his second shutout of KU. You won’t believe the first one.

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Paul Rhoads gave a game ball to Wally Burnham after his defense shutout Kansas.

 “Shutouts don’t exist anymore,” Rhoads said. “You shut out anybody and you’ve played phenomenal defense. Our guys did tonight and Wally’s the guy that leads the charge.”

 Rhoads is right in that shutouts aren’t commonplace in today’s game. There have been 36 of them in Division 1A this fall and 15 of those came in games against FCS-level competition.

 Only a dozen of them came in conference play: ISU over Kansas, Florida State vs. Maryland, Syracuse vs. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech vs. Syracuse, Michigan State vs. Purdue, Ohio State vs. Purdue, Bowling Green vs. Ohio, Buffalo vs. Western Michigan, Central Michigan vs. UMass , Utah State vs. Colorado State and Alabama vs. both Mississippi and Arkansas.

 In Wally’s world, however, shutouts have been more common. He has been a part of 17 of them. Burnham was inside linebackers coach on the 1993 Florida State team that won the national championship. That team registered four shutouts.

 This is where it gets interesting.

 One of those whitewashings was in the ’93 season opener against Kansas (42-0) on Aug. 28 in the Kickoff Classic. The game included one of the most amazing goal line stands in college football history.

 The Seminole defense stopped KU on 11 consecutive plays inside the 10-yard line. There were three offsides calls and a pass interference flag in the end zone.

 If you have 9:44 to spare, click here and watch a video of the amazing goal line stand as described by Keith Jackson and Bob Griese.

 Saturday’s shutout, I’m guessing, meant more to Burnham than the one over the Jayhawks 20 years ago. It was totally unexpected.

 And, Burnham will have a ball to place on the mantel as a keepsake.

Good, great and significant & memorable

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There are wins and there are good wins.

 There are road wins and there are great road wins.

 There are roads wins in tough venues and there are significant and memorable road wins in tough venues.

 The Cyclones’ 90-88 thriller in the Marriott Center at BYU was the latter. Since Dave Rose became the Cougars’ coach in 2005-06, BYU has lost only 12 games in 8-plus seasons in that building. The BYU winning percentage at home is 91% during that timeframe.

 Duke has lost 10 games in Cameron Indoor Stadium since ’05-06. Ohio State, like the Cougars, has dropped only a dozen home games during the period.

 Here are some other home court loss totals (from 2006 to the present) for consideration: Michigan State 13, Gonzaga 14, Florida 17, Wisconsin 17, Kansas 17, Butler 17, North Carolina 20, Georgetown 21, Kentucky 23, UConn 24, Louisville 24 and Syracuse 25.

 You get the idea. BYU doesn’t lose at home often.

 Among those dozen defeats, four of them were to Top 10 teams:  No. 2 Gonzaga (2012-13), No. 6 Baylor (2011-12), No. 6 Wake Forest (2008-09) and No. 10 New Mexico (2009-10).

 No matter how you classify last night’s results – good or great or significant and memorable – that victory will look better and better as the season unfolds. That BYU team won’t lose many games, especially in the Marriott Center.

Six of 10 Cyclone sports nationally ranked; see how that compares

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Ten Iowa State sports have begun play in 2013 or are nearing completion of their championship seasons.

 Six of those Cyclone teams – women’s cross country, men’s cross country, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and wrestling – are ranked in the nation’s Top 25.

 The only schools nationally with more ranked programs among the 10 sports at Iowa State that have their started seasons are: Stanford (8), Michigan (7) and North Carolina (7). The Cyclones’ six ranked sports equal the number at Florida State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.

 ISU is keeping keen company.

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 Here are the number of Top 25 programs each school has (among the sports of football, wrestling, men’s & women’s basketball, men’s & women’s cross country and women’s volleyball, soccer, swimming and tennis):

8:  Stanford.

7:  Michigan, North Carolina.

6:  IOWA STATE, Florida State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin.

5:  Duke, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Texas A&M, UCLA, Virginia.

4: Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, USC.

3: Arkansas, Auburn, California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Marquette, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina, Syracuse.

2: Alabama, BYU, Clemson, Colorado State, Cornell, Creighton, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, LSU, Maryland, Mississippi, Northwestern, Portland, Princeton, Providence, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UCF, UConn, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia.

1: Bloomsburg, Boise State, Boston University, Butler, Central Michigan, Columbia, Dartmouth, DePaul, Denver, Eastern Kentucky, Edinboro, Fresno State, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Hawaii, Iona, Iowa, Lehigh, Memphis, Miami, Northern Arizona, Northern Illinois, Oregon State, Pitt, Rice, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Tulsa, UNI, Utah, Vanderbilt, VCU, Villanova, Washington State, William & Mary, Wichita State.

 Note: Polls used for this data are those posted at ncaasports.com (as of 11/19/13)

Cyclones’ offensive line maturing and growing up as the season goes along

“We’re going to be bigger, stronger and faster next year.”Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads

 That day can’t come soon enough.

 ISU’s starting offensive lineman vs. Oklahoma last week weighed an average of 293.8 pounds. Its lone 300 pounder was junior Jacob Gannon (listed at an even 300 pounds).

 The Cyclones’ Big 12 peers are much bigger and physically developed in the trenches.

 Check out the averages: Oklahoma State (314.8 pounds per man and 4 above 300 pounds), Baylor (314.0 and 3), Oklahoma (313.8 and 4), West Virginia (310.8 and 4), Kansas State (306.4 and 4), Kansas (306.0 and 5), Texas (305.0 and 4), Texas Tech (301.0 and 3) and TCU (301.0 and 3).

 The Cyclones are also the only league school which didn’t start a senior on the offensive line last week. Iowa State’s three sophomore starters were the most (same as Texas Tech).

 Along with the youth and injuries on the line this fall, Rhoads also discussed how a new position coach changed some techniques and messaging.

 “There are a number of things Coach (Chris) Klenakis has asked from that group (that is different) from what Bill (Bleil) did,” Rhoads said. “You’ve got 4 years of coaching (with Bill) and then 12 short practices in pads (with Chris) when an o-line gets its work done.”

 But, Rhoads has seen progress throughout the year despite using 9 different starting combinations in 10 games.

 “Pass protection… run technique,” Rhoads said. “All of that is improved.”

 And, he sees more gains coming.

 “We’ll get better … (that includes) everything that goes along with development in a program as players sequence through their years,” Rhoads said of the future.

Showcase game for ISU and a player (who might surprise you)

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It was certainly a showcase game for the Iowa State men’s basketball program Sunday afternoon and the performance received great reviews.

 Every Cyclone who saw the court made contributions. Melvin Ejim got the headlines in his season debut, but his teammates also stepped up.

 None probably did more and did so as quietly as Dustin Hogue. It was, in ways, a showcase game for the JC transfer that Cyclone fans don’t know much about yet but soon will fall in love with.

 Ejim always gets accolades for his warrior mentality on the boards despite standing just 6-6. Hogue, who is really a small forward at 6-6 and 215 pounds, played large Sunday. He registered a “double double” with 12 points and 10 rebounds while playing 37 turnover-free minutes.

 One of Michigan’s advantages was frontline size. The Wolverines used Mitch McGary (255 pounds), Jon Horford (250 pounds) and Jordan Morgan (250 pounds).

 Coach Fred Hoiberg wasn’t sure how many minutes he could get out of Ejim coming off a knee injury and, with Georges Niang in foul trouble, Michigan’s size looked formidable.

 Enter Hogue.

 He plays like Ejim with his determination and all-out effort.

 “I’m a little annoyed with Dustin,” Ejim deadpanned in the post-game interview session. “He stole a rebound from me. (Seriously), it’s great to have another versatile player who can play inside and out. He adds a whole dynamic to our game.”

 Hoiberg would concur. And, as fans, we will soon learn to appreciate him as well.

A level playing field means everyone should get December practice time if they choose

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The NCAA strives to create a level playing field across its landscape. It’s a noble concept.

It’s not a level playing field, however, for college football when teams not bound for bowls are prohibited from practicing in December. Bowl teams get several weeks of game prep but, truthfully, much of that training is for younger player development.

Because the schools not going to bowls aren’t allowed to train then, they don’t get the development work for returning players and the gap widens.

Fifty-eight schools have won at least six games this fall and are eligible for bowl play and the extra practice.

Among the 58, do you know what Stanford, BYU and Florida State have in common? The Cardinal, Cougars and Seminoles have won 6 games this fall against schools with winning records.

Bowl-bound Virginia Tech and Clemson have 5 victories over schools with above-.500 records and Alabama, Missouri, Baylor, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC have 4 each.

Four bowl-eligible teams – Cincinnati, Marshall, Rice and Texas State –have not defeated even one team with a winning record.

 “Big Five” conference members Arizona, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Oregon State and Texas Tech have beaten only one opponent with a winning record this fall.

Each of the schools on the various lists above has earned the rewards of bowl eligibility and should get to enjoy the perks of post-season travel and the associated bowl activities.

In the spirit of leveling the playing field, the NCAA should consider offering those developmental practices to any school who wishes to conduct them. That is regardless of bowl status.

 

In some ways, Fennelly has been coaching to today’s rules for a long time.

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The shock wave going through college basketball right now is the rules change prohibiting hand checking. Murmurs have spread from coast-to-coast.

 The dean of Big 12 women’s basketball coaches – Iowa State’s Bill Fennelly – discussed Monday the change’s impact on the game.

 “It’s here to stay and it’s a huge thing that we’re going to have to deal with,” Fennelly said. “It’s going to change the game and we all need to understand that and coach to it.”

 In a way, Fennelly has been “coaching to it” for most of his career.

 “You better be a great free throw shooting team,” he said.

 Check. The Cyclones led the NCAA (80.5%) in that category a year ago. This year’s team is built around Hallie Christofferson, who attempted a team-high 130 as a junior and hit 86%.

 “You better have more depth than you thought you needed,” Fennelly said.

 That’s a work in progress. Fennelly used eight players in the season opener and admitted he would like another guard to step forward and into the mix.

 “We’re a team that, historically, has been a leader in the country in fewest fouls,” he added, hoping that trend continues.

 Check. Eight times in the last dozen seasons, the Cyclones have ranked in the nation’s Top 30 for fewest fouls. Iowa State led the nation in that statistic in 2006 (11.8 per game) and placed 5th in 2002, 9th in 2003 and 3rd in 2008. Not fouling is a Fennelly staple.

 So, it’s not a stretch to say that Fennelly’s adaptation might be less difficult than others. He does admit, however, it will be different.

 “I’ve always had the ‘1st-half, 2-fouls’ rule you sit,” Fennelly said. “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do that (anymore).”

Self-analysis leads to less “jumping and hitting” for the Cyclones.

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One year ago, the Iowa State volleyball team won its last 9 conference matches to capture second place in the Big 12. The Cyclones are presently on a 5-match winning streak in league play and sitting in second place, a half-game ahead of Kansas.

 So, it’s time to put the pedal to the medal, right? Not necessarily, according to Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch.

 “Every coach’s challenge, especially at the end of the year, is that you want to push-push,” Johnson-Lynch said. “But, you know at some point that is going to bite you. I think that’s been a weakness of mine over the years.”

 Johnson-Lynch has felt her team entered the NCAA Tournament worn down several times.

 “Over the past couple of years, we have talked to a lot of people about how to do a better job,” Johnson-Lynch said. “It’s hard because you want to get better and, in volleyball, if you want to get better you have to jump and hit.”

 The 8th-year coach, however, is limiting the hitting and jumping in days following matches this season.

 “I want to keep pushing at some things but we’re finding out we’re not getting much in return from (jumping and hitting),” Johnson-Lynch said. “We need to look big picture and understand where we want to be in December.”

 Where do the Cyclones want to be in December? That’s easy… in the NCAA Tournament, well-rested and ready to jump and hit with the nation’s best.

 

Rhoads in select company with 3

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A week ago, Paul Rhoads and TCU’s Gary Patterson faced off as head coaches in Jack Trice Stadium.

Most folks didn’t realize it was a match-up of the only two coaches in college football with three road wins as underdogs over Top 25 opponents in the last three-plus seasons.

Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Gary Pinkel (Missouri), Bobby Stoops (Oklahoma), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), Bo Pelini (Nebraska), Mack Brown (Texas), Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Mike Riley (Oregon State), Larry Fedora (North Carolina) and Lane Kiffin have two such triumphs over that time period, but no one has as many as Rhoads and Patterson.

Rhoads’ three victories, as an unranked team, over nationally rated foes came at No. 15 TCU (2012), at No. 19 Texas Tech (2011) and at No. 22 Texas (2010).

What’s the secret for that success?

“I think it’s an every game focus (for our team),” Rhoads said Monday. “I don’t think we’re higher for those games and lower for other games. It might play as a factor that those teams aren’t as high for us on those particular Saturdays when we come on the road as they are for other folks.”

Rhoads enters this week with a simple goal for his team.

“Improvement and energy,” Rhoads said. “That’s at the top of my list.”

The task for the Cyclones at 17th-ranked Oklahoma is a tall one.

“(We’re playing) a Top 25 team in Oklahoma, on the road, in a series that is as lopsided as any that exists in the Iowa State record books,” Rhoads said. “And, I’m looking for a team that is looking forward going to Norman, taking the field and playing with every ounce of energy that they have.”

Long earns start with defense and intangibles but hits eight 3s in starting debut

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When Melvin Ejim was injured in practice recently, Coach Fred Hoiberg had to decide how we would replace him in the starting lineup.

Several options were available. Hoiberg could go “big” or add another guard – Naz Long, Sherron Dorsey-Walker, Monte Morris or K.J. Bluford were candidates – to the lineup.

Long was Hoiberg’s choice.

“The big thing is that you always know what you’re going to get with Naz and that’s defensive effort,” Hoiberg said on his post-game radio show Sunday. “He is a great talker and gets us organized. Especially with Melvin out of the lineup right now, (Naz) really communicates out there. He’s so positive and gets us on the same page when things aren’t going well.”

In the season opener vs. UNC-Wilmington, things were going well. That was largely because of Long’s play at the offensive end of the court. At one point, Long had outscored the Seawolves, 23-22.

For the game, Long hit eight three-point shots on the way to a career-best 26 points. The shooting success wasn’t part of the scouting report on Long. Hoiberg had touted Long’s defensive skills above all else.

But, on Sunday, Long showed much more.

“He had such great tempo and pace to his shot,” Hoiberg said. “He was in a rhythm and you need that to be a good shooter. I thought he rushed (offensively) in the Augustana game and we worked on that in practice.”

Hoiberg has always admired Long’s intangibles.

Knowing he can hit some shots, too, only adds to the potential of the Cyclones’ 19-year-old guard.