The next time you see a pre-season analysis touting the strength of a team because of its returning experience, take a pause.
It doesn’t always translate. Take the 2013-14 Big 12 Men’s Basketball race for instance.
Which Big 12 men’s basketball programs lost (via graduation, transfer, exhausted eligibility, etc.) the most from their 2012-13 roster? Based upon…
- Percentage of scoring: KU (79%), OU (68%), ISU (63%) and UT (60%);
- The number of 300-point scorers: ISU and KU (4 each), OU (3), UT and TT (2 each);
- The number of double-figure scorers: ISU, KU, OU and UT (3 each);
- Cumulative career starts: KU (181), ISU (114), OU (104), TCU (93), KSU (91) and UT (84).
What’s interesting is that the current Big 12 standings have Kansas, Iowa State and Texas (tied) and Oklahoma and Kansas State (tied) leading the pack. The four schools who lost the most (per the majority of the categories above) are leading the way in college basketball’s best conference.
In his nearly 4 years leading the Cyclones Coach Fred Hoiberg has done a masterful job annually in identifying talent, collecting it, meshing it and prospering with it.
His first team lost 72% of its scoring (from Greg McDermott’s last club) and Hoiberg directed a .500 team. His subsequent teams lost 62%, 53% and 63% of its scoring from the prior year and, yet Hoiberg registered 23, 23 and 21 (so far) wins the following year.
It’s not what you lost that determines team success it’s what you currently have. Like in prior seasons at ISU, what Hoiberg currently has is quite impressive and its showing in the standings.
The Iowa State basketball programs stand alone again (in a good way), courtesy of two seniors.
Melvin Ejim, the Big 12’s leading scorer, was named a CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) First-Team Academic All-American last week. He joins his current coach, Fred Hoiberg, as the only men’s basketball players in school history to receive first-team national academic accolades.
Hallie Christofferson, currently second in conference scoring, earned a spot on CoSIDA’s Third-team Academic All-America women’s basketball list. The last Cyclone woman’s basketball player to make one of the top three academic honor squads was Anne O’Neil in 2005.
There were 15 men and 15 women selected as 2014 Academic All-Americans in basketball.
Iowa State was the only school in the nation (Division 1A) with both a men’s and a women’s basketball player honored. Ejim and Christofferson were the lone Big 12 players cited.
Congratulations to Melvin and Hallie for bringing more positive distinction to Iowa State University and its basketball programs.
Several early-season trends re-emerged Saturday in Iowa State’s Big 12 road triumph at TCU.
Two are good and one is not.
A slow start (storyline #1) was followed by a gutty win (#2) and Georges Niang was in the middle of the big plays (#3).
“We can’t come out of the locker room like that,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “After we picked it (the pace) up a little, we started playing better. But, that’s after you’ve given them confidence.”
Iowa State had several games earlier this year with slow starts but Hoiberg noted his team’s improvement in that area as the season has gone along.
ISU also found a way to grind out a win in Ft. Worth. During its undefeated non-conference season, the Cyclones found ways to win time after time despite some sluggish starts. TCU was no different.
“It was good to see us finish,” Hoiberg said.
Much like the early part of the year, Niang was in the middle of the game-clinching plays. He seems to prosper in critical times.
“Georges was really good all game,” Hoiberg said. “And, those two 3-point plays were huge and really sealed it for us.”
The script at TCU was familiar and, once again, the most important factor was that the result goes in the left-hand column of the league standings.
There are some pretty good names on the list of freshmen men’s basketball players, who have led the NCAA in a statistical category for a season. Among them are Jason Kidd, Paul Millsap, Anthony Davis, Alonzo Mourning, Steve Alford, Bernard King, Michael Beasley, Sidney Moncrief and Shawn Bradley.
Iowa State freshman Monte Morris has a chance to become the 21st frosh to be the NCAA’s best in a statistical category. He currently tops the nation in assist turnover margin.
Morris’ current pace (5.20) would not only lead the nation, but it would break the NCAA record, too. Among the 20 freshmen to lead the nation in an NCAA category, only one set a national record that season, too.
Blake Ahearn, a 6-2 guard on Missouri State’s 2004 team, made 117 of 120 free throws (.975) as a college freshman. Ahearn bounced around the NBA for 3 years and converted 32-33 free throws (.970) as a professional.
Here is the complete list of freshmen to lead the NCAA in a statistical category:
- Bernard King, Tennessee, 1975, 62.2 FG%
- Sidney Moncrief, Arkansas, 1976, 66.5 FG%
- Steve Alford, Indiana, 1984, 91.3 FT%
- Jim Barton, Dartmouth, 1986, 94.2 FT%
- Kenny Miller, Loyola, 1988, 13.6 rebounds
- Alonzo Mourning, Georgetown, 1989, 4.97 blocks
- Shawn Bradley, BYU, 1991, 5.21 blocks
- Jason Kidd, Cal, 1993, 3.79 steals
- Keith Closs, Central Connecticut State, 1995, 5.35 blocks
- Joel Hoover, UMES, 1997, 3.21 steals
- Jason Conley, VMI, 2002, 29.3 points
- T.J. Ford, Texas, 2002, 8.27 assists
- Paul Millsap, Louisiana Tech, 2004, 12.5 rebounds
- Blake Ahearn, Missouri State, 2004, 97.5 FT%
- Mike Freeman, Hampton, 2007, 67.8 FG%
- Michael Beasley, Kansas State, 2008, 12.4 rebounds
- Devin Gibson, UTSA, 2008, 3.32 steals
- Hassan Whiteside, Marshall, 2010, 5.35 blocks
- Anthony Davis, Kentucky, 2012, 4.65 blocks
- Chris Obekpa, St. John’s, 2013, 4.03 blocks
Iowa State’s men’s basketball team is at a size disadvantage most nights. That was the case vs. Texas Tuesday.
Yet, the Cyclones turned the tables on the Longhorns in an important statistical category… points in the paint. ISU had a 22-point advantage.
When the schools met in Austin, UT outscored Iowa State by 12 points in the paint. Since that game, ISU had scored more points in the paint than every team it faced.
“They had the size and we had the speed,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said on his after-game radio show. “I thought we really battled them and when we got a rebound our transition offense was exceptional.”
Many of the Cyclone points in the paint were transition layups or alley oops.
“A lot of those buckets came in transition,” Hoiberg said. “Melvin (Ejim) was awesome in the open court and really ran the floor well.”
On the other end of the court, a suffocating team defense limited UT’s post players to just one basket.
The Cyclones might not be tall physically, but they are outscoring their conference opponents by more than 10 points per game in the paint and that stat stands very tall in the Cyclones’ success.
Iowa State basketball followers know that Fred Hoiberg covets shooters.
So, it’s kind of funny in post-game sessions with the news media, he doesn’t often single out the “hot” shooter. But, if the team’s assist total is to his liking it almost always draws a smile and comment.
The 2013-14 Cyclones currently lead the nation in assists, averaging 18.6 per game. The only other school in the nation averaging more than 18 assists per game is Creighton, led by former Iowa State Coach Greg McDermott.
What’s common between ISU and Creighton is that the high assist totals are generated by multiple players.
Three Cyclones (DeAndre Kane – 146 assists, Georges Niang – 89 and Monte Morris – 78) and three Bluejays (Austin Chatman – 110, Grant Gibbs – 83 and Jahenns Manigat – 76) have more than 75 assists to date. No other schools nationally have three such players.
As a great shooter during his career, Hoiberg appreciated a good set-up man. As a coach, he is still cherishing the guys willing to make a pass for the benefit of a teammate. And, on this team, he has more than his share of them.
DeAndre Kane registered 17 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists Saturday vs. Texas Tech. It was another near “triple double” for the senior. What else is new?
The victory over the Red Raiders was a gritty team affair. But, Kane tied for the team lead in points, paced the club in rebounds from his guard position and recorded nearly half of the team’s assist total.
It was another stat-stuffing day for the senior.
Coach Fred Hoiberg answered questions from the news media for almost 6½ minutes after the win. Not one of the inquiries was about Kane.
Hoiberg’s opening statement mentioned several Cyclones before he closed with “DeAndre made a lot of plays for us (too).”
Kane always seems to make a lot of plays. It’s expected.
Earlier this season, Kane posted lines of 26-9-9 (at Oklahoma State), 30-8-9 (Baylor), 16-12-8 (Northern Illinois) and 13-11-7 (UNC-Wilmington).
He may yet sneak in a “triple double” this season. He’s been very close multiple times.
When it happens, he’ll get the accolades. And, he’ll be good with that as long as it comes with a win.
The discussion was framed midway through the first half of Wichita State’s game at UNI last week when a graphic titled “Productive Trios” appeared on the ESPN telecast.
Announcers Rich Hollenberg and Mark Adams were comparing key statistics for the Shockers and Syracuse, college basketball’s remaining undefeated teams.
“There’s a reason these 2 teams are undefeated,” Adams said. “Their trios are as productive as anybody in the country. The other great trio – Sam Dower, (Gary) Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos at Gonzaga – have similar numbers.”
The research department might need to dig a little deeper.
Among the elements on ESPN’s graphic were the cumulative averages for those trios in points, rebounds and assists.
The Orange trio – C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney – averages 42.5 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game
- The Shockers’ trio – Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet – averages 40.8 points, 13.9 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game
- The Zags’ trio –Pangos, Dower and Gary Bell – averages 41.1 points, 12.9 rebounds and 6.7 assists
At Iowa State, there is a pretty productive trio, too. But, it was not mentioned during the telecast.
Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane and Georges Niang are averaging 51.2 points, 19.4 rebounds and 11.5 assists per outing. The Cyclone trio has the best numbers is all three categories.
Maybe, the discussion about productive trios in college basketball can be more inclusive the next time.
The NCAA has included assist turnover ratio in its men’s basketball statistics for 7 years.
- A player has never averaged more than 4 assists per turnover for an entire season (the NCAA record is 3.96:1 by Tyler Newbold of Utah State in 2008-09);
- A freshman has never led the NCAA in assist turnover ratio (James Robinson, Pitt in 2012-13 and Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn in 2010-11 each placed 9th nationally as frosh).
Enter Iowa State freshman Monte Morris.
After Morris’ 6-assist, 0-turnover performance at West Virginia, he raised his ratio to a staggering 5.21-to-1. (Note: players have to average at least 3 assists per game to qualify for the NCAA rankings.)
In his first 19 games – all coming off the bench – Morris had a splendid 4.91-to-1 ratio while scoring 6.2 points per game. Coach Fred Hoiberg moved him into the starting lineup four games ago and Morris raised his assist turnover ratio to 6.33 while boosting his scoring average to 9.8.
There is a by-product of great point guard play, and that’s winning.
The top 5 players nationally in assist turnover ratio include Morris, Pitt’s Robinson, Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis, New Mexico’s Hugh Greenwood and Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet. The combined record of the 5 schools those players represent is 104-13. That, of course, includes the nation’s only two undefeated teams.
A year ago, Tyrus McGee became the first Cyclone men’s basketball player to lead the NCAA in a statistical category (three-point shooting percentage).
Will Morris become the next?
Following Iowa State’s triple overtime victory at Oklahoma State on a Monday, Coach Fred Hoiberg noted the benefit of 4 days without a game in advance of playing TCU.
Thus, the Cyclones had time to work on some new offensive actions for the Horned Frogs zone-heavy defense.
Hoiberg will again have extra preparation time this week before hosting Texas Tech Saturday.
This time, however, Hoiberg may be talking defense after surrendering 102 points to the Mountaineers.
“We were bad from the tip,” Hoiberg said, “and didn’t come out with any urgency.”
Hoiberg said that WVU got in an offensive rhythm early.
“In the first half, they hit 7 threes and got 8 layups,” he noted. “We didn’t take anything away from them. You have to take something away (defensively) and we were giving them both.”
After a day off (today), the Cyclones will be back on the court Wednesday tightening things up.
The last time Hoiberg had some extra practice time, his new offensive sets worked wonders against the TCU zone.
Let’s see what he has in store for the Red Raiders, but it’s a near certainty Hoiberg will be hunting for a much more spirited effort on the defensive end.