“What was” versus “What is.” Both leave you smiling.

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After a spectacular March run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, I find myself contemplating “what was” and “what is.”

The wonderful part is that both bring a huge smile to my face.

The “was” includes observing a team gel, win big (to the tune of 28 games), show a resiliency that bordered on the unbelievable, bring home a championship trophy and play the most exciting brand of basketball in the college game today.

The season was a showcase for Hilton Magic complete with a celebration of the Johnny Orr era. Fred Hoiberg made sure of that. It also included a school-record 14-game win streak to open the season and 9 wins vs. ranked schools.

Melvin Ejim amazed all season. He leaves ISU as one of the best student-athletes in program history. Ejim brought special significance to the number 48, as in a Big 12 record for points in a game.

DeAndre Kane made a “16-7-8″ line seem routine and blasé. That doesn’t seem possible. The 1-year Cyclone was that good.

The “was” was great. The “is” is an indicator of what’s ahead and it may be better.

Georges Niang made it cool to wear a band-aid and a foot boot, too. But, it will be awesome when he tosses both to the sidelines and returns to shooting, passing, spinning to the bucket, converting and celebrating.

Dustin Hogue had a showcase performance in his home state (34 points in the Garden) after contributing a season’s worth of grit, toughness and all of the things that lead to winning.

Monte Morris set an NCAA record as a freshman, but I can’t get his sticky defense against UConn’s All-American out of my mind. He was terrific Friday night.

Naz Long etched himself into the personal memory banks for ISU fans on multiple occasions this winter. And, there are others.

“What was” or “what is”?

It doesn’t matter. The past was great and the future may be better.

It was that kind of year for Cyclone men’s basketball.

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