Happy finals week Cyclone Nation. To you students out there reading this, I feel for you. I remember this week. Late nights. Early mornings. And the night that my finals were finally over – watch out Ames!
To those non-students out there in Internet land, to you, finals week means no Iowa State sports for almost an entire week! What’s a fanatic to do? Have no fear. The Cyclone Fanatic Mailbag is here.
We had a lot of great questions this week – more than I could handle in one column. So be sure to tune into the Channel Seed Podcast tomorrow as I’ll be answering more questions if yours didn’t get addressed here.
Let’s begin with a basketball question from KFitzy87.
Kfitzy87 writes: Not to be a pessimist, but I’m a little concerned about Clyburn going into the Big 12 schedule. The guy just got taken to school at Iowa. Do you think Will is going to live up to the hype when we hit conference play?
CW: That’s a good question right there Kfitzy. I think that you have a right to be concerned but by no means should you be in panic mode either. So the guy had a bad game at Iowa…Okay…The guy had an AWFUL game at Iowa…But consider what Clyburn has done against comparable competition…
Against Cincinnati, he had an off night but was still engaged in the game, going 2-for-14 with eight and seven.
Against UNLV, Clyburn had his second best game of the season with 21 and 15.
Then there was his 32 point outburst against BYU.
That’s why you shouldn’t freak out because of his performance on Friday night. It isn’t like he’s only produce against the Alabama A&M’s and Nebraska-Omaha’s of the world.
Clyburn has played his best basketball in two of Iowa State’s four key non-conference games. The problem I had in his Iowa performance wasn’t even the zero points, it was the three rebounds. I hear coaches say all of the time, "if your shots aren’t dropping, find another way to impact your team in a positive way."
In Iowa City, Clyburn didn’t do that. That’s a concern. He didn’t appear to be ready to play, which was obvious from the tip.
MadCy writes: What’s your take on the little bit of chatter about Wisconsin being interested in Rhoads, or him being interested in Wisconsin? I know up here in Madison I haven’t heard him mentioned by one person (which means nothing).
CW: Chatter? What chatter? I haven’t heard a thing…Just kidding of course.
Listen folks…The fact that his name keeps popping up is a good thing. Now don’t get me wrong – it stinks for the fan. I totally get that. Especially at Iowa State, when you’ve become accustomed to being kicked in the junk every time that something positive appears to be happening over the course of history. Looking over your right shoulder and waiting for the next crater to mess up your world is natural for Iowa State fans. We’re a paranoid group and if anybody tries to blame you for that, they just don’t get it. Don’t feel bad about it.
But don’t waste your time worrying about it either. I’m not going to come on here and tell you that Paul Rhoads is going to retire at Iowa State in 25 years. I have no clue what the future might bring. But what I do know is that I feel good about what’s going on in Ames right now.
Attendance is at an all-time high. State-of-the-art facilities are in tact. Rhoads is on a recruiting hot streak unlike anything we’ve ever seen at Iowa State. He’s got all the job security in the world. Paul Rhoads has every reason in the world to want to be right here, right now.
Relax and enjoy the ride!
Mac4Cy writes: I know it is early but do you envision seeing more big time recruits like Allen Lazard coming to Iowa State?
CW: Be patient.
Lazard is a special case. He’s a legacy recruit who just happens to live 30 miles south of Ames. When you’re talking 4-5 star blue chip prospects, Iowa State is probably never going to be a school that attracts 5-10 of these guys per class. Sprinkling a guy like Lazard in here and there is very possible though.
Rhoads’ staff is executing its game plan perfectly right now. Change the culture, win consistently, recruit better and build off of that. It just takes patience but with out a few 8-9-10 win seasons, expecting 5-stars to start committing to Iowa State regularly is just unrealistic.
Wesley writes: When do you think the B12 will expand now that we are a one BCS league?
CW: I’m not sure I exactly know what you mean by "we are a one BCS league." Because the Big 12 only got one BCS team this season? That was a matter of circumstance and nothing more. Had Nebraska not gotten embarrassed by Wisconsin (even if they would have just lost by 20 or something), Oklahoma probably would be in the BCS and Iowa State would be in Dallas.
But to your question on expansion…
I have no clue what is going on behind closed doors. I always say this when this topic comes up and it’s 100 percent true. The people making these decisions have a lot more information, knowledge at their disposal, higher salaries and are generally much better at life than me so take my opinion for what it is, one man’s opinion.
The world is changing. These super-conferences are just going to keep growing. Sure, the Big 12’s financial situation at 10 schools makes a lot of sense right now. If you split the pie 10 ways instead of 14, everybody at the table gets a larger piece. But my fear is that if the Big 12 stays like this for too long then then league will be in the same place it was 10 years ago, with a dated television contract making half of what every other "big" league is making, which leads to more turmoil.
Now the schools you add have to make sense financially. I don’t have the hard numbers in front of me, but I can only assume that Florida State and Clemson would add to the league’s value. Even if they didn’t, scoop them up before somebody else does. Adding Cincinnati probably wouldn’t do much.
I don’t have the answers. All I know is that I’d like the Big 12 to play some offense for once. It’d make me feel better about where Iowa State will be come 13 years from now when that grant of rights expires.
Cyclonespiker writes: How long can the men’s basketball winning streak in Hilton last?
CW: It’s at what, 14 right now? Let’s pull out the schedule…
I’m comfortable inking in a victory over Yale on Jan. 1. I like Iowa State over Texas on Jan. 12. West Virginia appears to be a very winnable game on Jan. 16. Kansas State is a little dicey on Jan. 26, but still very winnable. I like Iowa State to beat Baylor at home on Feb. 2. Oklahoma on Feb. 4 is a scary basketball game in my opinion. The Sooners are very, very undervalued right now and could finish as high as third in the league in my opinion. After that, you’ve got TCU (win), Texas Tech (win), Kansas (probable loss but who knows?) and Oklahoma State to wrap up the home schedule.
1) Iowa State will be a very good team at home this season and…
2) The Big 12 stinks.
The thought of this winning streak growing to over 20 games is very realistic.
BigMan38 writes: Where did Naz Long go? He looked good early the season and hasn’t gotten much, if any, playing time lately.
CW: Easy answer. The competition is a lot better than when Naz was playing 20 minutes a game early in the season. Naz has turned the ball over 13 times in only 94 minutes played. In games vs. Southern, Alabama A&M, Campbell and North Carolina A&T, Long averaged 19.5 minutes per game. In games vs. Cincinnati, UNLV, BYU, Florida Gulf Coast, Iowa and Nebraska-Omaha, Long played a total of 26 minutes. This is clearly a case of Hoiberg getting his young guard minutes against teams he could be productive against.