Teams have identities and reputations based upon their results over an extended period of time.
Then things change and, all-of-a-sudden, a new reputation emerges.
You seldom recognize the transition, however, while it’s happening.
Any coach whose team has made dramatic improvement could probably point to an event (play, game, season) when things clicked, when cultures changed or when confidence in the plan grew.
Could Fred Hoiberg point to a game early in his tenure when his floor spacing principles took hold? Does Bill Fennelly remember when his team really felt empowered to let the three pointers fly?
When Mark Mangino was hired as ISU’s offensive coordinator, I told a friend that he’d be really good. But, I also added that the timeline for the improvement was up-in-the-air.
At the start of fall camp, people would have listed Quenton Bundrage, E.J. Bibbs, Aaron Wimberly, DeVondrick Nealy and Jarvis West as Mangino’s biggest potential playmakers. The Cyclones, experts noted, didn’t have a QB named yet.
Of that list, only Nealy hasn’t missed time due to injury. ISU has also lost three linemen to season-ending injuries.
With that as the backdrop, Mangino carved up the nation’s third-best defense Saturday night. Sam Richardson, a healthier Bibbs, Wimberly, Allen Lazard and D’Vario Montgomery had leading roles.
Is a transition occurring? When we look back some day, will a hard-fought 48-45 game in Austin be a game singled out for its significance?
Stay tuned, but things are trending upwards.