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


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)


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


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


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.


Familiar storyline results in road win as Niang is front and center (again)


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.

Twenty frosh have led the NCAA in a stat, but only one has set a record, too


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


Cyclones are outscoring league foes by 10 points a game in the paint


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.

Hoiberg, the coach and the former shooter, loves the assist guys


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.

Ho hum. Kane gets 17-8-9 without much fanfare.


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.

An oversight on “Productive Trios”


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.