Perspective on a road loss to a ranked team with one day of prep

The Cyclone men’s basketball team has played three “Big Monday” games on ESPN since league play started. ISU, Oklahoma and Texas (with three each) have the most appearances among Big 12 schools, while Kansas has two.

The Sooners are 2-1 in those marquee contests (two on the road), while the Cyclones and Longhorns are 1-2 (again, two on the road). The Jayhawks won both of their “Big Monday” games and each game was in Lawrence.

There’s no question that the turnaround from a Saturday game to a Monday contest is hard. It’s especially tough to add in travel.

Iowa State’s two “Big Monday” losses – at Kansas and at Oklahoma – came in the gyms of the Big 12’s first- and second-place teams.

Surprisingly, four Big 12 schools have hit the road for a “Big Monday” game and won.

Texas won at TCU (Jan. 19), West Virginia won at Texas Tech (Jan. 5), Oklahoma won at Texas (Jan. 5) and Oklahoma State won at Baylor (Feb. 9). The home teams, which lost those Monday games, have a cumulative 13-29 Big 12 record.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said on his radio show that winning in Norman would be a challenge no matter when it was played.

Hoiberg noted that his team has had a Monday game with one day of prep two weeks in a row and that “it will be nice to get back into a routine.”

Losses are tough at this time of year.

Just don’t overreact to one game against a formidable foe, on the road with a short prep time. Data would show that not many schools have won “Big Monday” games against the quality of competition the Cyclones faced.

You’ll never guess the last time a league foe scored fewer than 38 points vs. ISU (hint: Wilt)

MBB Don Medsker vs. Kansas 1957

Iowa State got a payback victory over Texas Tech Saturday and it came as a result of the effort on the defensive end of the court.

“They (Texas Tech) weren’t as comfortable,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We had one small stretch when (Toddrick) Gotcher hit three of them, but after that, we got back to doing exactly what we wanted. That was running them off the three-point line and sending them into guys like Jameel (McKay) and Dustin (Hogue).”

Texas Tech scored 38 points. The only team to score fewer points vs. Iowa State this season was Mississippi Valley State (33). ISU held league peer Oklahoma State to the same total in 1967.

The last time a conference foe had a lower point total was a red-letter day in the program’s history. The Cyclones upset top-ranked Kansas – featuring Wilt Chamberlain – 39-37 in January of 1957. That game was 21,209 days ago. Let that one sink in for a spell.

Texas Tech Coach Tubby Smith compared his team’s loss in Ames to its win at Lubbock.

“We couldn’t seem to buy a basket (today),” Smith said. “We didn’t make the shots that we made at our place.”

When the schools tipped off at Tech earlier this season, the Red Raiders made 11 three-point field goals. That tied their season high and Hoiberg felt a lack of defending the perimeter was the reason.

“We didn’t close out with any urgency so that has been a big emphasis in practice,” Hoiberg said.

Whether it was ISU’s commitment to defending better or Tech just not making shots is irrelevant. It was a historic defensive performance.

“We took a step today and now we have to be more consistent (the rest of the season),” Hoiberg said.

Rhoads on soapbox regarding campus visit rules

Big 12 Football Media Day

Section 13 of the current NCAA Manual is titled “Recruiting” and it takes up about a quarter of the pages in the book of rules and regulations for college athletics. There aren’t many topics in college sports that get debated more than recruiting.

As the ink dries on the National Letters of Intent (NLIs) signed Wednesday, some people are continuing their discussions about potential rule changes for recruiting. The NLI program is administered by a group called the Conference Commissioner’s Association, a 32-member panel of league administrators.

Among the proposals that group is studying are: an early signing period (for football), unlimited text messaging to recruits, an additional contact with a prospect the in the spring and a new definition for the “bump” rule (when a coach “bumps” into a prospect outside of a visit).

There is another proposal that Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads wants addressed, and quickly. Football programs cannot currently pay for parents or guardians to come on campus visits with their sons.

“There aren’t many people in this room – that when they were 18 – would make a big decision like this (where to attend college) by themselves,” Rhoads said at his signing day news conference.

Rhoads and his staff recruit the entire nation and showcasing the campus, university and football team to parents as well as prospects is how the Cyclones like to market their product.

“I continue to push hard – you gave me the opportunity to get on a soapbox (with your question) – that the rule has got to change so it allows program to bring in parents and/or guardians on these visits,” Rhoads said Monday. “When it comes time to make a decision (and the athlete asks) ‘what do think mom and dad…’”

The answer shouldn’t be that the parents never saw campus or met the coaches.

Rhoads wants families involved with every step of the recruiting process. There isn’t much of an argument against that logic, especially when some sports are already doing so.

How the hype translates or doesn’t translate

It is an interesting transition – over the span of three days – moving from the Super Bowl to National Signing Day for college football.

During the two weeks of hype for the game between Seattle and New England, there wasn’t even scant mention of Malcolm Butler, Julian Edelman or Chris Matthews.

Butler, of course, made the game-clinching goal line interception. Edelman keyed the Patriots’ short passing game all day with nine catches. Matthews set up the Seahawks’ first score and tied the game with a TD right before Katy Perry performed.

The “star” power of that trio was pretty dim prior to shining in the spotlight on Super Bowl Sunday.

Butler wasn’t even rated as a college prospect after just two seasons of high school football in Virginia. The undrafted rookie from Division II West Alabama wasn’t part of the Pat’s original gameplan, but he was inserted into the game to match up with Matthews.

Edelman was a two-star prospect out of high school, who made his way to Kent State as a QB after one year at a JC. He accounted for 236 yards of total offense and threw three TD passes for Kent State in a 2008 game against the Cyclones.

Although a three-star prospect by one service as a prep, Matthews was not drafted by the NFL. He did, however, spend the 2012 season with the Iowa Barnstormers. Prior to the Super Bowl, he had played just 28 snaps all year for Seattle and had as many catches as you did.

The point is that today’s recruiting day hype is just that. There will be hits and misses.

One of the best Tweets circulating during the Super Bowl was this one: 44 starters in the Super Bowl: 5-Star Recruits – 0; 4-Star Recruits- 4; 3-Star Recruits and below- 40

Keep that in mind today.

Rivalry “talk” can be cheap but this one is becoming real

Dejean-Jones, Bryce_Kansas_2014-15_5

The atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse was revved up.

Multiple signs – standard fare for hotly contested games – referencing Hilton Magic or the Cyclones were spread throughout the student section.

The pre-game comments from the Kansas camp focused heavily on payback for ISU’s win in Ames.

Those were all indicators of what transpired in Lawrence last night. Despite a loss, Iowa State’s basketball rivalry with Kansas ignited and that’s a good thing.

You can’t talk your way into being taken seriously. Performance dictates respect. Two Cyclone wins in a row against KU had gotten the Jayhawks’ attention.

“It’s a fun team to compete against,” Kansas Coach Bill Self said. “I think us and Iowa State have developed a pretty nice rivalry.”

The rivalry had been brewing the last couple of seasons. Close and tough losses, however, kept the “rivalry” discussion largely under wraps. That’s no longer the case.

“I think they (our guys) were focused to play up there and they (the Cyclones) were just better than us,” Self said of the season’s first game between the schools. “I’m sure they (ISU) were focused to play tonight but we were better.”

Late in the game, ESPN announcers Brent Musburger and Fran Fraschilla talked about the rivalry and noted that most people would feel Kansas State and Kansas would be the heated adversaries because of their proximity. Musburger, however, noted the one-sided nature of that series and suggested that Iowa State-Kansas has become the league’s marquee match-up.

Monday’s result was, rightfully, frustrating to the ISU contingent. But, Hoiberg and his men have sparked a rivalry and there’s always the possibility of another game down the road.

Shot making towards the top of to-do list for Cyclones tonight

Hogue, Dustin_Kansas_2014-15

Iowa State’s 48-point second half Saturday vs. TCU broke open a tight game and the Cyclones coasted home to their 19th straight home win.

Making 63% of its shots in the final 20 minutes was the catalyst.

“I thought we played much smarter in the second half,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We took the simple play instead of trying to hit home runs.”

Shot making is a staple of ISU’s game. People talk all of the time about the Cyclones’ three-point shooting as being the club’s barometer. It’s really making shots period.

The Big 12’s top two shooting teams will face off Monday in Lawrence, Kan. Iowa State is connecting on 48.6% from the field in conference play. Kansas hits 45.5% in league games.

The Cyclones have made at least half of their shots in 12 of 20 games this winter. In league contests, they done it four times in eight outings. Two of those – Texas and TCU – came against teams in the Top 10 nationally in FG% defense.

The Big 12’s other nine schools (excepting ISU) have made half of their shots in a conference game only six times in 76 games. That explains how exceptional the Cyclone offense can be.

It will need to be exceptional at KU tonight.

“Guys are going to have to be ready to step up and knock down shots,” Hoiberg said.

And, if they can, the Cyclones will have a shot at winning. They are 12-0 this season and 51-3 under Hoiberg when making at least half their shots.

Under any measure, Cyclones off to a great start

Fennelly, Bill_Texas_2014-15

As the Big 12 women’s basketball race moves to the mid-point of the season this week, Bill Fennelly’s Cyclones are in third place with a 5-2 mark.

“We’ve had some close ones go our way,” Head Coach Bill Fennelly said. “We’re 5-2, which is great. Some people say you’re close to being 6-1 (but) we’re close to being 2-5 (too). The thing in this league is ‘can you find a way to win the close ones?”

Iowa State’s most-recent close encounter was Sunday’s one-point victory at eighth-ranked Texas. The Cyclones had never previously defeated a higher rated opponent on the road.

Three of ISU’s five conference wins have been decisions of five or fewer points. Iowa State, in fact, has more “tight” league wins than anyone else. TCU is 2-0 in close encounters and league leaders Oklahoma and Baylor are both 1-0 in games decided by five points or less.

Another measure that Fennelly referenced Monday was the way that former Iowa State men’s coach Tim Floyd measured the league standings. Earn one point for a road win and lose a point for a home loss. Road losses and home wins are neutral.

With Floyd’s benchmarking preference, ISU is at plus-2. Baylor and Oklahoma are +3 to lead the pack. TCU, at +1, is the only other school with a positive mark.

The true conference standings have ISU in third place. They’ve done it by winning close games and protecting the home court. If the Cyclones can continue those trends, they’ll be at the top of the Big 12 standings and positioned well for post-season play.

Storylines got twisted, but Cyclones gain win over ranked foe

Morris, Monte_Oakland_2014-15_5

One of the oft-repeated storylines about Iowa State’s basketball team is that when the 3’s aren’t falling the Cyclones struggle on offense. Those, who favor that analysis, aren’t tracking the right stat.

The Cyclones really get humming when the assist column is filled.

Facing the nation’s second-best FG% defense (Texas), Iowa State shot 55% from the field and scored 89 points.

They did so by assisting on 20-of-29 field goals. Combining that assist total with just six turnovers is more key than efficiency from three-point range.

“We extended it to 21 (in the second half) with great play,” Coach Fred Hoiberg admitted. “I thought our guys were playing for one another and the ball was really flying around that (long Texas) zone.”

The other storyline Monday night was the Longhorns’ long-range shooting. UT was eighth in the Big 12 in three-point percentage and had averaged fewer than six per game.

In a rousing comeback, the Longhorns made 7-of-9 three-point shots in the final eight minutes to turn the game into a classic match-up between Top 20 opponents on national television.

Another showcase game in the Big 12 was staged in Ames.

It was a wacky game. Storylines didn’t match tendencies. But, it was entertaining and a Cyclone win over a rated foe.

With four players registering at least three assists and ISU making just six three pointers, it was a win based upon sharing the ball. That’s the real storyline.

Sunday’s victor takes a big step towards title

Moreno, Mike_Virginia Tech_2011-12

The wrestling match between Iowa State and Oklahoma State on Sunday pits the eighth-ranked Cyclones against the seventh-rated Cowboys.

It projects to be a tightly contested competition, and the winner will take a huge step towards a conference championship.

“We want to be Big 12 champions,” Iowa State’s Kevin Jackson said Monday. “That’s our goal. That’s our plan.”

Oklahoma State has the same goal. They’ve won four of the last five conference titles.

“There are a number of swing matches,” Jackson said, as he listed 141, 157, 165 and 184.

Nearly half of the bouts, at least in Jackson’s estimation, are toss-ups. That’s quite a backdrop for this week’s dual.

  • Both schools list either/or competitors at 141 none of the contestants are nationally rated
  • Luke Goettl faces Anthony Collica in a battle of unranked wrestlers at 157
  • Fourth-ranked Mike Moreno meets undefeated and No. 1-ranked Alex Dieringer at 165
  • 17 Lelund Weatherspoon wrestles No. 15 Nolan Boyd at 184

It’s a terrific bout on paper.

“I think it comes at the right time in terms of another step competition wise,” Jackson said. “It’s an important dual. They’ve had a stranglehold on the conference.”

A victory Sunday would surely loosen the OSU league stranglehold just a bit.

In tight game, bench (McKay, Nader) sparks win

McKay, Jameel_Kansas_2014-15_3

On any given night, it seems any number of Cyclones could be in a starring role.

Coach Fred Hoiberg began his post-game radio show last night by complimenting two members of his bench for their play. And, it was their defensive play he touted.

“I thought Jameel (McKay) getting on the floor, getting the ball and calling a timeout (was important),” Hoiberg said. “I felt (Abdel) Nader had the play of the game with his block. Plus, he was able to keep it in play.”

On a night when Hoiberg felt his team was just a touch “off” after Saturday’s huge victory vs. Kansas, Hoiberg got great boosts from McKay and Nader.

McKay had a team-best 15 points and Nader hit 5-7 shots on the way to 11 points.

Only twice previously (a 37-point win over Lamar and a 50-point win over Mississippi Valley State) have two Cyclones reached double figure points off the bench in the same game this season.

Against a formidable foe like Kansas State – which entered the game in first place in the Big 12 – that bench production was a welcome sight.

Beyond his point total, McKay also had game highs in rebounds (seven) and blocks (three). Nader chipped in with six boards.

Hoiberg has lots of options and his guys continue to prepare to be the guy called upon.

Tuesday night, it was Nader and McKay that answered the call and it came in a competitive game. That’s the exciting part.