Babb’s most complete game as a Cyclone ends with bizarre finish


Chris Babb almost had the storybook game of his career.

Game after game, the determined senior is saluted for his great defensive play. He was on his best at that end of floor in Stillwater last night, too.

Babb held Oklahoma State’s leading scorer, Markel Brown, to two points in 18 first-half minutes (Brown had 10 points in the second half). In the second half, Babb switched to cover Le’Bryan Nash (who had 14 points in the first half) and limited him to four points in the last 20 minutes.

“He does his job every night defensively,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said afterwards. “But, it was great to see him get it going offensively. Chris needed to see the ball go through the basket.”

Babb had a season-best 19 points and made 5-6 shots from three-point range vs. OSU.

And, he nearly had the chance to write the ultimate tale before a bizarre sequence unfolded in the game’s final seconds.

Trailing by two with less than two seconds left, Babb and his teammates had to retreat back on defense after Tyrus McGee was forced out of bounds on a potential game-winning play.

Babb then made a stellar defensive play and was fouled. The 79% free throw shooter (Big 12 games) was in position to send the game into OT with a pair of free throws.

But that script got scrapped when the officials ruled the foul occurred before Babb intercepted the pass. ISU got the ball out of bounds and its last-gasp attempt missed.

Although Babb’s game was not the storybook tale it could have been, it was his most complete game in a Cyclone uniform. That truth is not open to debate.

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


Christofferson is showing that she may be, indeed, a “five tool player”


Baseball terminology snuck into Bill Fennelly’s news conference comments Monday when he noted that his junior forward Hallie Christofferson wasn’t a “five tool player”.

That, of course, is baseball code for a player who hits for average, hits with power, throws, runs and fields.

But, then Fennelly quickly listed off Christofferson’s ability to shoot the ball, make free throws, rebound the ball, make 3’s and post up a little bit. Sounds like five tools to me.

Operating in the shadow of seniors Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins, somewhat, Christofferson is “playing at an All-Big 12 level” according to Fennelly.

In the last four games, Christofferson is averaging 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds while shooting 66.7% from the field, 58.3% from behind the arc and she’s made 11-11 free throws. Additionally, Fennelly said, she guarded West Virginia’s center and point guard Saturday.

The 6-3 Christofferson ranks 16th nationally in FG percentage and 46% of her attempts (74) are three pointers. The 15 players ahead of her nationally (in percentage) have combined to shoot only 39 three pointers.

“Every day she’s around and every day she’s in the gym is a better day for us,” Fennelly said.

It’s not known how Christofferson handles the curve ball (baseball jargon, again), but on the court she has all the necessary tools and is showcasing them to Big 12 audiences across the region.

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

It may have been just one possession, but it was indicative of the Cyclones’ sharing tendency


Iowa State’s Tyrus McGee made a three-point shot in the first half against K-State Saturday that extended the Cyclones’ lead to four points.

But, it was one of the more efficient and impressive possessions of the season.

“I looked up and there were 17 seconds on the shot clock,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “And, that ball had been reversed three times around the floor to get Tyrus that wide open shot.”

Hoiberg loves spacing and ball movement on the offensive end.

“When we play that type of basketball and share it with each other, we’re a pretty tough team to defeat,” said Hoiberg after his team became just the second (soon-to-be top-ranked Michigan was the other) to score more than 70 points vs. K-State.

Iowa State’s willingness to share the ball was on display on that possession just like it was all game. Six players nailed 3’s vs. K-State and Will Clyburn (24 points), Georges Niang (15), McGee (11) and Korey Lucious (10) all scored in double figures.

“When we get good spacing, we’ve got a lot of weapons out there,” Hoiberg said.

It was only one possession near the midway point of the second half, but it was symbolic of this Cyclone team.

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


Comparing cup points & budget, who spends their money best in college athletics?


Among college athletics departments, who spends their money the best? That’s a loaded question, right?

The most-recognized measure for athletics excellence is the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. It’s a measure of competitive success across all sports. Each school scores points in that metric based upon NCAA finishes.

The Department of Education, through its annual EADA Reports, tracks a number of things including athletics budget.

Combining Directors Cup points and athletics budget for the most-recent season, I’ve determined the number of dollars spent per point by each of the Division 1A football playing schools.

In other words, which Division 1A athletics programs spent their resources most effectively in pursuit of wins. Iowa State ranked 23rd nationally and second in the Big 12.

Here is the list of the Top 100 schools (based upon dollars spent per cup point):

1—New Mexico $60,000; 2tie—Stanford $61,000; 2tie—UCLA $61,000; 4—California $69,000; 5—Florida State $76,000; 6–North Carolina $78,000; 7–Texas A&M $79,000; 8—Illinois $81,000; 9—Tulsa $82,000; 10—USC $83,000;

11—Duke $87,000; 12—Virginia $89,000; 13–Kent State $90,000; 14tie—Florida $91,000; 14tie–Central Florida $91,000; 14tie—Arizona $91,000; 17—Baylor $93,000; 18—Maryland $96,000; 19—Oregon $98,000; 20—Arizona State $101,000;

21—La.-Lafayette $104,000; 22—BYU $104,000; 23tie—IOWA STATE $110,000; 23tie—Virginia Tech $110,000; 23tie—Minnesota $110,000; 23tie—Georgia $110,000; 23tie—Penn State $110,000; 28—Oklahoma $112,000; 29tie—Boise State $113,000; 29tie—North Carolina State $113,000;

31tie—Notre Dame $115,000; 31tie—San Diego State $115,000; 33—LSU $117,000; 34—Northwestern $121,000; 35—Arkansas $123,000; 36tie—Vanderbilt $126,000; 36tie—Indiana $126,000; 38—Ohio State $128,000; 39—Michigan $130,000; 40—Washington $132,000;

41tie—Kentucky $133,000; 41tie—Missouri $133,000; 41tie—Michigan State $133,000; 44—Southern Miss $137,000; 45—Purdue $142,000; 46—Louisville $143,000; 47—Colorado $145,000; 48—Wisconsin $148,000; 49—South Carolina $151,000; 50—Nebraska $157,000;

51tie—Texas $158,000; 51tie—TCU 158,000; 53—Louisiana Tech $159,000; 54—West Virginia $160,000; 55tie—Clemson $161,000; 55tie—Syracuse $161,000; 57—Toledo $162,000; 58tie—Auburn 163,000; 58tie—Northern Illinois $163,000; 58tie—Ohio $163,000;

61—Oklahoma State $164,000; 62tie—Alabama $165,000; 62tie—Miami, Fla. $165,000; 64—Mississippi $170,000; 65—South Florida $172,000; 66—Tennessee $174,000; 67tie—Utah $177,000; 67tie—Cincinnati $177,000; 69—Oregon State $178,000; 70—Boston College $182,000;

71—Connecticut $185,000; 72—Kansas State $186,000; 73—UAB $188,000; 74—Kansas $199,000; 75—Iowa $202,000; 76—Arkansas State $204,000; 77—UTEP $208,000; 78—Texas Tech $221,000; 79—Houston $222,000; 80—Middle Tennessee $223,000;

81tie—Temple $224,000; 81tie—Georgia Tech $224,000; 83—Central Michigan $225,000; 84—SMU $227,000; 85—Mississippi State $231,000; 86—Wake Forest $245,000; 87—Western Michigan $247,000; 88—Eastern Michigan $251,000; 89—East Carolina $259,000; 90—Colorado State $264,000;

91—Wyoming $265,000; 92—Nevada $274,000; 93—Washington State $280,000; 94—Akron $286,000; 95—San Jose State $300,000; 96—Hawaii $305,000; 97—UNLV $312,000; 98—Memphis $319,000; 99—Rice $321,000; 100—Western Kentucky $328,000.

Scan the list and pick out your favorite measuring sticks for the Cyclones. It is an interesting exercise.

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

Three of Iowa State’s head coaches are leading programs at their alma mater.


The Iowa State Letterwinners Club has a saying, “Once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone.” That line can apply to coaches, too.

Three current head coaches at Iowa State – Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Jackson and Corey Ihmels – wore the cardinal and gold as student-athletes before taking the coaching reins.

Of the 139 current Big 12 head coaches, only 17 are employed at their alma maters.

In the revenue sports, Hoiberg is joined by Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (football), Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury (football) and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins (men’s basketball) in leading programs at their alma maters.

Three Big 12 baseball coaches are employed at the schools they attended, and that’s the most for any one sport. Oklahoma State has four former Cowboys (baseball, football, wrestling and women’s golf) on the sidelines, while Texas, Oklahoma and K-State don’t have any.

For the coaches who have chosen to return to their college home, there is likely a special passion for the program and a familiarity with the surroundings.

At Iowa State two other head coaches – Christy Johnson-Lynch and Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler – had Big 12 familiarity before coming to Ames. Johnson-Lynch was an All-American setter at Nebraska and Gemeinhardt-Cesler was a record-setting outfielder at Missouri.

For the trio in Ames, it really is “once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone.”

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

“Cyclones with a 3!” Only one school makes more of them than ISU’s men and women.


Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and Bill Fennelly both have offices in the Sukup Basketball Facility. Perhaps, that close proximity has the two Cyclone coaches sharing notes.

Their game plans are pretty similar in that both programs take and make a lot of three-point field goals.

The Cyclone men are ranked sixth nationally (9.2 per game) and the women’s team is 19th-best in the NCAA (7.8 per game) in three-point makes per game.

The only other school with both programs ranking in the NCAA’s Top 20 for three-point baskets per game is Creighton. The Bluejays are tied for first in the men’s rankings (9.6 per game) and second in the women’s stats (9.1 per game).

Making long-range shots has long been a staple of Fennelly’s program. His teams have led the Big 12 in three pointers in 15 of the 16 seasons since the league started. Hoiberg’s club is on pace to top the conference in three-point shots for the third year in a row.

Another similarity between the two programs is that they’re winning. With a combined record of 26-7 overall and 7-3 in Big 12 play, Iowa State is off to a great start.

Three-point success and winning go hand-in-hand and if you’re a shooter, the welcome mat is here at Iowa State.

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

Read the full story about projected conference revenues and learn the Big 12 leads the way.


There were 11 schools nationally with athletics budgets above $100 million according to the most-recent U.S. Department of Education figures. The 60 largest college athletics budgets were from schools in the BCS automatic qualifying conferences.

Conference revenues – specifically league TV revenues – really drive the data. The big conferences have the lucrative television deals.

Forbes Magazine recently published a story comparing projected conference finances for 2012-13. The Big 12 had the fifth-largest projected total revenue ($262 million), which trailed the Big Ten ($310 million), Pac-12 ($303 million), ACC ($293 million) and SEC ($270 million). Rounding out the list were the Big East ($94 million), Conference USA ($26.5 million), MAC ($22 million), Mountain West ($21.5 million) and WAC ($10 million).

But that is just the opening chapter of the story.

The Big 12, of course, has 10 schools. The SEC has 14 while the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC have a dozen each.

Chapter two of the story is that the projected payment to each school in the Big 12 (estimated to be $26.2 million) is the highest. The Big Ten ($25.8 million), Pac-12 ($25.3 million), ACC ($24.4 million) and SEC ($19.3 million) are in the neighborhood. The Big East ($11.8 million), Conference USA ($2.2 million), Mountain West ($2.1 million), MAC ($1.7 million) and WAC ($1.4 million) lag behind.

So, the next time the topic of conference size or league revenues takes place at the office water cooler, it’s ok to tout the Big 12.

Certainly the numbers will change again as new network TV deals are negotiated in the coming years. But from a financial standpoint today, the 10-team framework is benefiting the Big 12 just fine.

The epilogue of this story is that the future of conference alignments is open to anyone’s guess. But, today, the Big 12 is in great shape and it’s keeping an eye on the future at the same time.

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

There really is a Hilton Magic and here are some numbers to back it up.


The term Hilton Magic was coined in 1989.

Since then, the facility has played host to hundreds of Cyclone wins and memorable performances.

It’s been an especially great fall/winter in Hilton Coliseum for the Cyclones in 2012-13. The five tenants – volleyball (14-1), men’s basketball (10-0), women’s basketball (9-0), gymnastics (2-0) and wrestling (1-1) – have combined to win 36 of 38 competitions.

Wednesday’s last-second win over West Virginia in men’s basketball was the latest triumph for the memory banks. That win, courtesy of a Clyburn-to-Niang length-of-the court conversion with 2.5 seconds left, raised the men’s basketball team’s home mark to 10-0 this winter. The Cyclones have won 17 straight games over two seasons in Hilton, the nation’s eighth-longest (tied) home win streak.

Bill Fennelly’s basketball team is undefeated in Hilton this year with Tuesday’s 21-point decision over 14th-ranked Oklahoma being the latest. The ISU women have won 39 of their last 43 before the home crowd.

The volleyball team was 14-1 at Hilton last season and that included an upset of No. 1 ranked Nebraska in September. Gymnastics and wrestling have also fared well through their early competitions at home in 2013.

On a larger sample size (the ISU coaching tenures of Hoiberg, Fennelly and Christy Johnson-Lynch), the Cyclone basketball and volleyball teams have combined for a 365-71 (.837) mark in Hilton Coliseum.

There is no place like home. Hilton Magic, indeed!

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

Victory over ranked Sooners pleased Fennelly in more ways than just the victory column


Feel free to pick your favorite individual performance from Tuesday’s women’s basketball victory over 14th-ranked Oklahoma.

There are multiple options with career bests set by:  (a) Hallie Christofferson – points and field goals, (b) Nikki Moody – assists, (c) Kidd Blaskowsky – rebounds and (d) Brynn Williamson – rebounds.

Coach Bill Fennelly probably picked (e) none of the above. He labeled it a team win and then went to explain its significance in terms of team development.

“If you can be truly excited about the success of someone else, that’s a team,” Fennelly said. “I think we made a step forward.”

Fennelly’s two seniors – Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins – were off a bit their typical production vs. the Sooners. But, their post-victory reaction was Fennelly’s reason for optimism.

“When your two seniors (starters), who’ve struggled, are more excited for the other kids (who performed well) than anyone in the locker room, that’s the start of building something special,” he said. “When you beat a ranked team it says a lot.”

In this case, the reaction of his club was as pleasing to Fennelly as the win.

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

Teammate expectations are what have spurred individual improvement according to Jackson


There isn’t a more “individual” sport in intercollegiate athletics than wrestling.

After the NCAA dropped boxing as a sanctioned sport in 1961, wrestling became arguably the most intense, individualized sport.

“Wrestling is a one-on-one combat sport,” Iowa State Coach Kevin Jackson said. “The mentality is a little bit different than a team sport.”

At the same time Jackson is training his wrestlers to focus on defeating a singular opponent, he’s also developing a camaraderie that will lead to a championship-caliber team.

The Cyclones have made significant performance improvements in recent weeks. Jackson is crediting a much improved team approach for the gains.

“We had to bond as a team… athlete to athlete,” Jackson said. “There becomes a higher level of expectation (for yourself as an individual) when your teammates expect you to win and compete at a certain level.”

Certainly, all wrestlers want to win for themselves and their coaches. That’s normal. When you get guys understanding how their individual matches connect to team wins, it gets more powerful.

“That bonding is a big part of our sport,” Jackson said, “and we’re starting to see it take place.”

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