Do-it-all Kane does it all, again, and then thanks the Cyclones in last Hilton appearance

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DeAndre Kane did “it” again. What’s hard to get your arms around is how he does “it”.

What the multi-talented Kane did was lead his team to victory Saturday. That’s the “it”. But, the aspect of the game he excels in seems to be different each time out. He does what is needed.

Sometimes, it’s a key shot. Other times, he is ferocious on the boards or makes a key assist.

In the first half against the Cowboys, for example, Iowa State’s offense was sputtering. It had generated one basket in 5:27. Kane made layups on consecutive possessions to create a spark. That was just the start.

At the end of regulation, Naz Long nailed a long bomb to send the game into overtime. The shot will go down in Cyclone history. But, it doesn’t happen with a rebound and pass – by Kane – leading to the bucket.

In OT, it was Kane’s time. With Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang fouled out, Kane was called on to take over.

“He was getting a lot of things accomplished for us,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “With 2 of our top 3 playmakers out, we tried to clear a side of the floor with a shooter in the corner for DeAndre and he made great reads.”

Kane’s overtime totals: 7 points (5 FTs and an offensive rebound put back) and 4 defensive rebounds. Kane’s abilities allowed Hoiberg to play Dustin Hogue (6-foot-6) and four guards in OT.

Kane was the power forward, the ball handler and nearly everything in between during the extra session. His game totals were 27 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.

You could tell Kane’s last appearance in Hilton Coliseum was special to him. He celebrated with a huge smile on his face while waving to the crowd after the win.

 It was cool to see that reaction from Kane, because he’s certainly been a remarkable talent that we could appreciate all season long.

70% of the Big 12 men’s basketball teams have been ranked this season; a nation-best mark by 20%

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Seven men’s basketball programs in the Big 12 have been ranked this season. That’s more than any other league in the nation.

Seventy percent of the Big 12’s membership has appeared in the national ratings. That is remarkable. Four – Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor – of those spent time in the Top Ten.

In the Big Ten and American Athletics Conference, half of the schools were ranked at one time this winter. The percentage of schools that made an appearance in the Associated Press ratings this year in the other leagues is as follows: ACC 40%, Pac-12 33%, Atlantic 10 31%, Big East 30%, SEC 21%, Mountain West 18% and Missouri Valley and West Coast Conference 10% each.

Dating back to the formation of the Big 12 in 1996-97, there have been only 2 seasons when a league had a higher percentage of its schools ranked at one point than the Big 12 did in 2013-14. The ACC had 78% in 1997-98 and the Big Ten had 73% in 2009-10.

In the coming week as NCAA Tournament bids are lobbied for, it’s worth noting that the number of strong teams in the Big 12 this year is near all-time highs. That likely will, and should, be rewarded on Selection Sunday in a couple of weeks.

Shared traits of new staff members: recruiters with Big 12 familiarity

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There will be 6 new faces in the staff meeting room when Coach Paul Rhoads begins preparations for the 2014 Iowa State football season.

Rhoads will be welcoming Mark Mangino (offensive coordinator / tight ends), Brandon Blaney (offensive line), Stan Eggen (defensive ends), Lou Ayeni (running backs), Tommy Mangino (wide receivers) and Maurice Linquist (secondary) to his staff.

The backgrounds of the men joining the Cyclone football family are varied, of course. But there are a couple of significant, common elements. Those include recruiting prowess and Big 12 familiarity.

In a way, those factors are tied together. You need good players and they need to be good enough to compete successfully in one of America’s top conferences.

  • Mark Mangino served as head coach at Kansas (7 years), offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and assistant coach at Kansas State. He counted recruiting coordinator as one of his many duties last year at Youngstown State.
  • Blaney was an assistant coach at both Kansas and Oklahoma, working alongside Mark Mangino. He was in charge of the Jayhawks’ recruiting efforts.
  • Eggen coached the defensive line for Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M for 5 years when the Aggies were in the league. Most recently, Eggen was recruiting coordinator at Louisiana Tech. He has been named one of the nation’s best recruiters multiple times.
  • Ayeni doesn’t have Big 12 ties, but he is familiar with the Midwest having played at Northwestern when it won the 2000 Big Ten championship. He has an exceptional reputation in the Chicagoland area, where Rhoads plans to recruit.
  • Tommy Mangino worked in the Big 12 for his father at Kansas as a graduate assistant. He is also former offensive coordinator at Hutchinson CC. The Kansas junior college landscape is a hotbed for Big 12 recruiting.
  • Linquist played for Baylor, earning all-league mention, before serving as a G.A. for the Bears. He was previously the secondary coach at Buffalo, where he was also responsible for recruiting coordination.

 Certainly, Rhoads was scouring the nation for excellent coaches. He got that.

 But, it appears he was drawn to Big 12 experience and recruiting expertise as well.

Another “Senior Night” at Hilton Coliseum that left you smiling, but for a different reason than winning

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After Iowa State’s regular-season finale against Baylor Tuesday in Hilton, three seniors – Ashley Hagedorn, Elly Arganbright and Hallie Christofferson – spent 21:22 telling the crowd at Hilton Coliseum what it means to do things the “Iowa State Way.”

Coach Bill Fennelly talks frequently about doing things the “Iowa State Way”.

The poise shown and class and pride expressed by senior, once again affirmed the positive influences of the “Iowa State Way”.

“At ISU, basketball is a way of life and it’s about doing things the right way,” Hagedorn said. “I took the road less travelled (transferring to ISU) and it’s been a privilege and an honor to wear the Iowa State uniform.”

“I’m beyond blessed to be standing here wearing this uniform,” Arganbright said. “One of the important lessons I’ve come to understand is how to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

“Iowa State has been special to me through the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve gained,” Christofferson said. “Coming from a small community, I thought I was equipped to do anything. It turns out this was the best journey I’ve ever experienced.”

Many young women have matured as people, students and players doing things the “Iowa State Way”. There will be more to come and they, too, will emerge as better people.

Whether you were there in person on watching it on Cyclones.tv, it was another “Senior Night” in Hilton Coliseum that left you smiling.

 

“Don’t sweat it, coach. Enjoy it!”

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The idea surfaced one day at practice several weeks back.

Iowa State assistant track coach Jeremy Sudbury was kidding Edward Kemboi about running both the 800 and 1,000 meters at the upcoming Big 12 Track & Field Championship.

He was “kidding” because runners don’t do that “double”. The events run back-to-back, less than 20 minutes between starts. The recovery time for the 1,000 isn’t sufficient to compete successfully in the 800, too.

Sudbury hinted that the “1,000-800 double” and running a leg on the distance medley relay might be do-able.

Kemboi liked the idea. And, Kemboi delivered.

The junior became the first runner in Big Eight / Big 12 Championship history to win gold medals in each event.  He ran the 1,000 in 2:26.41 and followed that with a 1:50.67 clocking in the 800.

Iowa State Director of Track & Field Martin Smith relayed, after the sweep, a conversation between Kemboi and Sudbury.

“Coach Sudbury and Ed were completely confident,” Smith said. “They never doubted. He told Coach (Sudbury) ‘I have it in the bag. Don’t sweat it, coach. Enjoy it!”

It was certainly enjoyable as well as head-turning in the track world. People just don’t attempt the 1,000-800 double.

Part of the comfort in attacking the task was Kemboi’s calmness about the challenge.

“(I told myself) if I won the 1000 – no matter who you are – I’m going to take the 800 because it’s my race,” Kemboi said. “It’s also my track. I don’t want to let someone beat me on my track and in my race.”

Cyclones successfully counter Jayhawks’ defensive scheme

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The Kansas women’s basketball team wanted to take away Iowa State’s 3-point shooting prowess Saturday.

 “Kansas has always been a team that works hard to keep us from shooting the 3,” Coach Bill Fennelly said after his team won its 20th game of the season, 9th in Big 12 play and 4th on the road in conference play. “We thought we could beat them off the bounce and I thought Jadda (Buckley), Nikki (Moody) and Seanna (Johnson) did a great job of that.”

 The Cyclones made 57% of their shots (37 of them the 2-point variety) and 17-of-18 free throws to defeat the Jayhawks.

 Iowa State has averaged nearly 23 shots from 3-point distance in the last 4 seasons against all competition. That is what they do.

 Against KU in that same timeframe, the Cyclones have attempted just 16.3 shots from 3. The Jayhawks’ strategy isn’t hard to decipher.

 What also isn’t hard to decipher is that Fennelly and his staff countered that action to make 31-55 overall shots in Lawrence Saturday. The Cyclones made 62% of their attempts inside the arc.

 “Offensively, we were really good,” Fennelly admitted.

 The counter punching that Fennelly orchestrated at Kansas got the Cyclones a big win and cements them as the No. 5 seed in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament.

Hoiberg’s ability to teach shot making is resulting in wins (see Long, for example)

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It’s difficult to truly measure how much Fred Hoiberg’s ability to coach shooting has benefited his players.

Some guys – such as Melvin Ejim – have steadily improved long-term (i.e. their entire careers) under the watchful eye of Hoiberg. Others – like Naz Long – have enjoyed improvements with Hoiberg’s guidance in the middle of a season (like the current one).

What is obvious, however, is how much the improved shooting affects the win-loss column.

Take, for example, Long.

The sophomore blasted out of the starting blocks this winter, hitting 8 three pointers in the season opener. Long, in fact, made 52% (36-of-69) from long range in the first 12 games of the year. The Cyclones won every game.

When Big 12 play started, Long’s success rate fell off. He made 26% (13-50) of his three-point attempts in the opening 11 contests of the conference campaign. The Cyclones were 6-5.

Hoiberg began working with Long on his tempo and confidence a couple weeks back. Shots started falling. Iowa State started winning again.

In the last 4 games, Long has made half (10-20) of his 3-point tries. The Cyclones won each game.

Shooting well certainly leads to winning ways and Hoiberg’s acumen in teaching that skill is paying big dividends.

Freshmen Buckley and Morris star (with major help from Kane and Moody)

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If there was an award for “Freshmen Basketball Players of the Night”, it’s likely that Iowa State would have swept the honors Wednesday.

National assist-to-turnover margin leader Monte Morris registered 12 assists (an ISU freshman record) and no turnovers in the Cyclones’ 17-point win over West Virginia.

“He does such a good job of recognizing where the play needs to be made,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s throwing lobs, he’s recognizing mismatches and he’s getting the ball into the post.”

Meanwhile, 543 miles away in Stillwater, freshman Jadda Buckley scored a career-best 26 points (hitting 5 three-point shots) in a crucial 17-point victory against 15th-ranked Oklahoma State. It was a huge victory for ISU’s post-season resume.

“A big time win,” Hoiberg said about the women’s team’s victory. “I saw that Jadda (Buckley) had a big game with 26 points (and she did it) on only 12 shots.”

While Morris and Buckley played well beyond their years, both the men and women’s teams got stellar efforts from a veteran guard, too.

DeAndre Kane filled his stat line admirably with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in a game that meant a lot to him. Kane, the Marshall transfer, raised his career mark vs. WVU to 2-3.

Junior Nikki Moody had one of the more unusual “double doubles” of the season with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. She missed a “triple double” by 1 point after tallying 9 against the Cowgirls.

You could probably say with certainty if someone picked “Guardcourts of the Night”, the Cyclones would have swept those honors, too.

Hoiberg: master program builder

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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.

 

ISU only school nationally with a male and female academic All-American in hoops

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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.