Big 12 match-up between Cyclones & Wildcats is a statistical dead heat


In the current Big 12 standings, Iowa State is in fourth place (5-3) and Kansas State is fifth (4-4). The schools meet tonight in Ames and there probably could not be a more statistical dead heat.

A quick review of league statistics (conference games only through Sunday) would show the following:

·         Scoring offense – ISU (4th) and K-State (5th)

·         Scoring defense – ISU (3rd) and K-State (4th)

·         Scoring margin – ISU (4th) and K-State (5th)

·         FG percentage – ISU (4th) and K-State (5th)

·         FG percentage defense – ISU (4th) and K-State (5th)

·         3-point percentage defense – ISU (2nd) and K-State (3rd)

·         Assists – K-State (4th) and ISU (5th)

·         Steals – ISU (6th) and K-State (7th)

·         Turnover margin – K-State (5th) and ISU (7th)

The most significant differences are in three-point shooting (the Cyclones are second and the Wildcats eighth) and rebound margin (Kansas State is first and Iowa State is sixth).

Coach Fred Hoiberg complimented the Wildcats’ tenacity on the boards Monday and noted that 44% of their rebounds come at the offensive end.

“This team gets nearly half of its shots back on the offensive boards,” Hoiberg said. “(K-State) will be the toughest, most physical team we play all year. We’ve got to do a great job limiting them to one shot.”

Making a few three pointers along with an enthusiastic Hilton Coliseum wouldn’t hurt the cause either.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:


Cyclones’ board work keyed win over fifth-ranked Kansas


Melvin Ejim and Kansas forward Thomas Robinson were prep teammates at Brewster (N.H.) Academy. I don’t know how much they faced each other in practices, but Iowa State Coach Fred Hoiberg chose Ejim to match-up with Robinson (the NCAA’s second-leading rebounder) anyway.

With an ESPN crowd watching and a sold out Hilton Coliseum cheering, Ejim registered better numbers than his former prep buddy. Robinson netted 13 points and seven rebounds. Ejim, who stands four inches shorter and is 17 pounds lighter than Robinson, had 15 points and eight boards.

In fact, Iowa State’s upset of the fifth-ranked Jayhawks was built on a huge rebound margin. KU has lost the battle of the boards only four times this year.

One was in the season opener vs. Towson (-3), a school which broke its NCAA record 41-game losing streak Saturday. Kansas defeated the Tigers by 46 points. Another time KU had fewer rebounds was at Texas (-7) last week. The other two times were against the Cyclones. ISU had eight more rebounds in Lawrence, and it grabbed 13 more boards at Hilton Saturday.

Ejim certainly gets a lot of the praise for battling Robinson. But, reserve Anthony Booker contributed four rebounds in 17 minutes and Royce White added nine caroms playing against Robinson and seven footer Jeff Withey.

A lot of factors contributed to Iowa State’s attention-getting win over KU. But, none were more important than the advantage on the glass.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

Hype machine cranked up for Kansas, but it’s really only the next game on the schedule


The Kansas men’s basketball team is coming to town Saturday and there is a great deal of hype for its match-up with the Cyclones.

The Jayhawks, seven-time defending Big 12 champions, are ranked fifth in both the coaches’ and media polls.

National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson will be making his final appearance in Hilton Coliseum.

Iowa State officials announced two days in advance of the game that no more tickets are available.

The game will be televised on ESPN with the marquee announce team of Mark Jones and Fran Fraschilla.

Despite the hype, however, it really is just the next game on the schedule.

“We’re going to take the same approach every time we take the floor,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We are going to have the same mentality and approach as the other (games). Every time we step on the floor it’s huge for us.”

It is fun to have a meaningful game in Hilton Coliseum in late January. Playing the Jayhawks is a chance to measure yourself against the nation’s best, but it still counts as just one game in the standings.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

The Big 12 enjoyed a successful fall season


The Big 12 Conference had a good fall.

Eight of its schools made bowls and six brought home championship trophies. The half-dozen victories tied the SEC for the most bowl wins. The league’s 33-5 conference record was the best by one of the six major conferences in many years.

While bowl attendances suffered across the nation, games involving Big 12 teams had crowds 1.9% higher than last year. Bowl attendances nationally were down 3%. Six of the eight Big 12 bowl games had attendance increases over 2010 and three set game records.

Seven of the eight bowls with Big 12 participants had TV ratings in the top 20 (of 35 games).

For the first time in conference history, the Big 12 led the NCAA in volleyball RPI. The Cyclones finished third nationally.

NACDA recently released its all-sports standings (concluding the fall season) and four Big 12 schools (Oklahoma State, 3rd; Texas, 10th; Texas A&M, 17th and Iowa State, 22nd) were in the Top 25. The Cyclones’ fall rank tied its second-best mark ever (ISU was 19th in 1996) in the 19-year-old competition.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

The job description for playing point guard for Fennelly is extensive


There is a display wall in the Cyclone women’s basketball locker room at the Sukup Complex featuring professional players. A lot of former point guards are pictured on that wall.

Coach Bill Fennelly readily admits that point guard is the most important position in his program.

“They are the face of the team, must want to have the ball, must want to dictate the pace of play and (can) score,” Fennelly said. “We want someone who embraces the position the way it has been played in the past.”

Most of the time, coaches seek physical gifts in the players they recruit. But, it is apparent that Fennelly demands more than quickness, shooting / ball skills and decision making from his point guards.

“We want someone who will accept the responsibility of the position,” Fennelly said.

There is an amazing point guard legacy at ISU. If you have the determination and patience to learn the requirements, earning a space on that wall of fame is worth the investment.

“I tell all of the recruits that playing point guard is the best position at Iowa State,” Fennelly said. “It’s also the worst. I demand a lot but also give a lot of freedom.”

Many coaches say that basketball is a guard’s game. For Iowa State women’s basketball, the focus narrows even more… it’s a point guard’s game.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

Cyclones leading the Big 12 with four Rookie of the Week honors after McGee’s stellar week


Iowa State’s early season conference success has not been rewarded with any Big 12 Player of the Week honors to date. Kansas has had five honorees while Baylor, Texas and Kansas State boast two each.

The Cyclones do lead the league in Rookie of the Week honors with four. Tyrus McGee, who averaged 18.5 points (11-20 three pointers) and committed no turnovers in 57 minutes last week, joins Royce White (twice) and Chris Babb as recipients of the rookie award.

Since 54% of the ISU roster is in its first season in Ames there is normally a good Rookie of the Week candidate for the Cyclones.

When Coach Fred Hoiberg was asked about McGee’s success Monday, the questioner noted that White, Babb, Chris Allen and Anthony Booker got more of the pre-season acclaim among the first-year Cyclones.

“He (McGee) was my #1 target last year,” Hoiberg said. “I fell in love with the kid. It’s not just his shooting but also how hard he played.”

Hoiberg also noted that McGee is the team’s most talkative player.

“(Tyrus) is as vocal as anybody we have,” Hoiberg said. “I love his passion and enthusiasm for his teammates. That’s something we need.”

If he keeps shooting and defending like he is, you can figure the reigning Big 12 Rookie of the Week will continue to get a lot of minutes. Perhaps, that will allow him to win a Player of the Week honor the next time.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

Cyclones equal Big 12 road win total of past four seasons combined with victory at Tech


Road arenas have not been a friendly place in Big 12 men’s basketball this year. The home court winning percentage of league teams (86.9%) is the best in college basketball.

That’s why Iowa State’s 76-52 triumph at Texas Tech Saturday was important. It was their second Big 12 road win. The Cyclones lost all eight of their conference road games in three of the previous four seasons.

The 2011-12 Cyclones have played with confidence on the road and won two of three league games away from Ames. Next up is Tuesday night at Texas.

That match-up between the Longhorns and Cyclones, unfortunately, won’t be televised locally so listening to John Walters and Eric Heft on the Cyclone Radio Network will be the best way to follow the action. Live courtside blogging (by Mike Green of the communications staff) and live stats of the game, of course, will be available on

The game was not selected to be shown nationally or by the Big 12 Television Network as one of its games of the week, so the telecast was made available to both school’s third-tier providers. Because of the significant production costs to send a truck to Austin and produce the game, Iowa State has chosen not to televise the game.

Some viewers have concluded that Texas’ third-tier partner (the Longhorn Network) is blocking the telecast. It is not. If we had made the choice to pay the high costs for producing the game, it likely would have been shown on local TV in our market.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

Reading into Tech’s start reveals a team that is definitely better than its league record


The Texas Tech men’s basketball team is 0-5 in league play. That is misleading.

The Red Raiders have played only two home games and the foes were Baylor and Kansas, two of the nation’s best teams. The Red Raiders have lost three road games in the conference.

Saturday, first-year Coach Billy Gillespie and his team hosts Iowa State. TT was 6-0 in non-league play at home, so they have enjoyed success in Lubbock for Gillespie.

Coming off a dramatic last-second win over Oklahoma State should boost the Cyclones’ confidence. Iowa State had not won a league game in Hilton Coliseum at the buzzer in nearly a decade.

“We need to build off it and get a little confidence from it going into the next one (Tech),” Coach Fred Hoiberg said after the win over the Cowboys. “It’s a big game going down to Tech.”

Hoiberg noted that his team found a way to beat OSU when it wasn’t playing its best. Good teams do that he said.

“Our guys weren’t in there (the locker room) celebrating,” Hoiberg said. “They were talking about ways to get better the next couple of days.”

It’s a good guess that Gillespie will have his men stoked. Playing at home with a shot to slow the Cyclones’ momentum should fuel a strong effort from Tech. We’ll find out Saturday if ISU’s confidence can stem that challenge.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

Over time, Christopherson’s game winner will be the memory but McGee’s energy beat the Cowboys


As memories from Iowa State’s electrifying 71-68 win over Oklahoma State fade over time, the game will likely be remembered for Scott Christopherson’s banked three pointer at the buzzer.

Closer inspection of the box score might also suggest that Royce White contributed another stat-stuffing performance with 17 points, six assists and five rebounds packed into 27 minutes.

What will likely be forgotten was the energy boost provided by Tyrus McGee, the lone Oklahoma native playing one of the state schools from his home.

McGee brings a fury to the game and there were stretches Wednesday night when his energy kept the Cyclones competitive.

McGee fights through screens rather that passively switching. When he gets the ball on offense, he is primed for action. The 6-2 guard also relentlessly attacked the glass vs. the Cowboys and added a game-high nine rebounds.

The stat sheet will also note that McGee had 17 points (joining White and Christopherson) built upon five three-point shots.

It was his energy, however, that won the game. That won’t show up in the game recaps.

“(Tyrus) knocked the ball off (Keiton) Page’s leg to give us a shot to win the game,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said in his post-game radio show. “He was going to be aggressive because that’s the way he plays. He was the energy guy for us again.”

Christopherson gets credit for his first-ever game winner, but McGee was the teammate with a large role in creating the opportunity.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at:

Fennelly shares that the “competitive, aerobic practice” is only an hour long during league play


Bill Fennelly has been through this drill many times. When conference schedules begin, he alters practice.

“We work very hard in practice,” Fennelly said, “but we work shorter (during the league season). That’s how we’ve always done it.”

During the Cyclones’ non-conference season, there was an average of nearly five days (4.8 actually) between games. Certainly, there were one-day turn-arounds in tournaments. But, there were also breaks of seven and nine (twice) days. In Big 12 action, there is approximately 3.5 days between games.

“Practices change at this time of the year,” Fennelly said. “As a coach, you want to practice, practice, practice. But, you’ve got to save their legs, too.”

Today, Fennelly noted, there is more video work and walk-through exercises than earlier in his career.

“The actual competitive, aerobic practice is only about 55-65 minutes a day,” Fennelly said.

With an 18-game league slate this year for the first time, Fennelly is adjusting to the work load. He wants a fresh team going down the stretch and he’s doing everything he can to make that happen.

Reader feedback is welcome at You can also follow me on Twitter at: