AMES — I guess I didn’t think about it as much as I should have back in say, October, but geez – the way that Iowa State’s basketball schedule is set up to begin the Big 12 is brutal.
The Cyclones have played one game since Dec. 19. In that one game, an 80-70 home win over Yale, Iowa State came out of the gates visibly rusty. In fact, it took the Cyclones 30 minutes to snap out of their holiday coma. That game took place on over a week ago on Jan. 1. On Jan. 9, the Cyclones will again be forced to shake off the rust against a team that some say is Final Four caliber. That’s you know who, the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks, who are fresh off of a 69-62 win over Temple on Sunday.
“We found out late that our first week would be our bye week in the league,” said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. “I found out in August. It is too late to schedule a game at that point. It is what it is. You’ve got to go out there and perform.”
Go out there and perform – and for Iowa State, the key to even hanging around on Wednesday will be simple. Don’t beat yourself. Temple only turned the basketball over four times on Sunday and as a result, was in the game against a supremely talented squad to the very end.
“You have to go out there and play a smart basketball game and if you don’t, it will be over in a hurry,” said Hoiberg.
He’s spot on. If the Cyclones begin Wednesday’s game like they did say, at Iowa on Dec. 7, this could turn into a 30-point thumping.
Smart and simple basketball is the key but I’ll be honest, this one worries me. A lot. Let’s all hope that the Cyclones surprise me.
Some good news…
After a daunting road trip to Kansas, things ease up significantly for Iowa State with a schedule that gives the Cyclones a realistic shot to begin Big 12 play with a 5-1 record (that’s being optimistic of course).
After Kansas, it’s a schedule that features two home games with Texas and West Virginia (both basketball teams struggle scoring points), followed by road trips to TCU and Texas Tech (easily the two worst teams in the league) with Kansas State coming to Hilton on Jan. 26.
The key here – just survive at Kansas. If Iowa State does that, again, a 5-1 league start isn’t crazy. However, should the Cyclones get blown out of Lawrence, you have to ask yourself if this team is mentally tough enough to bounce back.
On Iowa State Football…
— We’ve all discussed the Liberty Bowl (the game itself) quite a bit here over the last week but I’ve yet to chime in on experience that it was. I’ve covered Iowa State’s last four bowl games and Memphis was by far the best overall experience in my opinion.
Houston and Tempe had great weather but in both cities, the bowl game itself is a tiny minnow in an ocean. New York was cool to do one time but a nightmare for media covering the event. I don’t ever want to do that again. In fact, I’ll probably never go back to that city for the rest of my life (I’m a small town boy).
While the weather in Memphis was less than ideal, Beale St. was phenomenal. Everything that anybody wanted to do in Memphis (other than the game itself and Graceland) was likely secluded to the downtown area. Cabs were cheap. The people were friendly. It also helped that the Cyclone Nation took that city over.
Overall, I give the Liberty Bowl experience a solid B and I hope that it becomes a Big 12 bowl tie-in in the near future.
— I’m extremely happy for former Iowa State tight end coach Luke Wells, who was recently named as a co-offensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach at Utah State, but am sad to see him leave Ames.
If it was at our Cyclone Fanatic Recruiting Party, a Gridiron Club event, or just hanging out around the football complex, Wells was always a friendly face. If things were good or bad, Wells was always smiling and made people feel like they were important.
He’s been recruiting well as of late too. Wells was Iowa State’s lead man on two JUCO’s (who each just signed), Emmanuel Bibbs and Aaron Wimberly to name a few.
Utah State got a good one. Best of luck coach.
— I hosted a Minnesota Vikings game watch party at my house on Saturday night. It wasn’t much of a party.
Let’s all call a spade a spade. Is that not the worst 10-6 NFL team you’ve ever seen?
However, what that overachieving group of purple men did this year was impressive – without Percy Harvin let me remind you. I see good things in the future for this franchise but at the same time, would love to see this group be picking higher in the draft.
I know. I know. That’s being a bad fan. I don’t know about you all, but I’m tired of being eliminated in the first or second round of the playoffs. I’ve always dreamed of watching the Vikings in the Super Bowl. Let’s hope that the current administration can build that sort of a team.
— That game was just awful to watch. What did I do afterwards to take my mind off of the pain? I played Mario Kart on the Wii. That’s what.
Quickly – name a better video game (I’m talking all-time here) than Mario Kart…
You can’t do it can you? Exactly.