Iowa State’s dominating win over a good Texas team on Tuesday night seemed to have rejuvenated this fan base. It isn’t that you weren’t all pumped up before the 85-76 victory. You were. You all have been nuts all season long (our traffic numbers prove it). But that win did seem to reassure a lot of people (myself included) that Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones are a significant threat to do some real damage when March rolls around.
In this installment of the Cyclone Fanatic Mailbag, I will answer a good chunk of questions about hoops and the next few weeks, some football and a few random topics as well.
Let’s start things off with a question from Dahliaclone about the upcoming Big 12 Tournament.
Dahliaclone writes: Does the seed really matter in the Big 12 tourney this year? I know many want to not face KU on Friday if possible but I think every team, KU included, is going to have very tough games. If tourney started today, KU as the 1 seed would play 8/9 seed Baylor or Okie State. That’s insane.
CW: First of all, you’re correct Dahliaclone. That is insane. Think about it this way: Oklahoma State was picked as a co-favorite in the Big 12 this season by the league’s coaches. In what world do two teams that split No. 1 votes in the preseason meet in the quarterfinals of the league tournament?
To quote Johnny, “That’s some weird and wild stuff.”
As for the first part of your question, yes, I do believe that seeding matters this year. Iowa State might have played Kansas well the last two years but the Cyclones have still lost five straight to the Jayhawks. As a fan, can you honestly say that you fear Oklahoma or Kansas State (only two examples) in the semis as much as you fear Kansas? If so, that is preposterous.
While it is true that Iowa State (and anybody for that matter) will have a brutal path to Saturday in Kansas City (because the Big 12 is so darn good), in my mind, avoiding Kansas for as long as possible is still very important. Without question, Iowa State’s easiest path to the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game is if the Cyclones get the two or three-seed and avoid the Jayhawks on Friday at the Sprint Center.
Isufan writes:Take the remaining games on the basketball schedule and rank them from your most confident ISU win to least confident ISU win.
CW: Most confident games at the top, working down to the least:
@ TCU – It’s a nerve-racking game just due to the fact that TCU plays such a slow style of ball and it’s on the road. Plus, the Horned Frogs still haven’t won a Big 12 game yet. Chances are, they won’t lose every league game this season, right? Still, Iowa State has proven to be a formidable team all season long. The Cyclones might even be double digit favorites in this one. Under no circumstance at all should the Cyclones lose this game.
West Virginia – Expect razor sharp focus out of the Cyclones after what went down in Morgantown.
Oklahoma State – The Cowboys will have Marcus Smart back and they’ve been playing with a ton of passion and intensity over the last week. This will be a chance for OSU to claim a critical win for its NCAA Tournament resume. It’s a scary game but will be played at Hilton Coliseum so you have to lean Iowa State because of that.
@ Baylor – Historically, Fred Hoiberg has owned Scott Drew. But the Bears are undeniably talented, somewhat desperate and playing much better as of late. Flip a coin.
@ Kansas State – The Wildcats are 7-0 in Big 12 games played at the Octagon of Doom this season. Enough said.
Rhoadhoused writes: What are some actual ways to improve student attendance? Lots of people notice and complain about it but its ISU’s job to create an experience kids want to be a part of instead of watching on TV or taking care of other responsibilities. Just having a good team doesn’t seem to be enough for the fringe fans.
CW: That’s a great question/statement.
I’m not going to get on a high horse and rip the students but I will say that attendance throughout the last three weeks or so has been disappointing.
I sat in the student section during my freshmen year of college at Iowa State. That was Wayne Morgan’s first season as head coach (I covered the team my last three years in Ames). Iowa State was competitive and made it to the final four of the NIT. It was a fun season but my boys and I would have killed to see a top 25 team play. We went to every game, regardless of opponent, but we were diehards. The majority of students are not diehards though.
Early this season, I really thought that Iowa State basketball was about to go through a major transition when it came to student attendance. I thought that Iowa State was turning itself into a bit of a mini-Kansas. You know? A basketball school where students go NUTS to be able to attend a game – any game. The type of school where students feel privileged to have a seat, even when TCU is in town.
That theory was simply wrong though. Cyclone Alley has a long way to go before it can even be mentioned in the same sentence as a student section like Kansas’.
What to do about it? That is a complex question but I would sell that top level of student tickets at a discounted rate to young alumni. Fewer student tickets would then be available and as a result, they would become more exclusive. Because you have fewer tickets available, maybe do some sort of a student ticket lottery like you see with some of the big basketball schools across the country? If students knew that they only had so many games that they could go to every season, they would show up for the ones assigned to them.
The above idea is probably an overreaction (okay, it is an overreaction), but there is nothing worse than having a jam-packed and energized arena with an ugly bare spot where nobody is sitting.
You have to be careful to not alienate the students though. The students, in general, are the energy in the building (however that hasn’t been the case lately). But I know there are a lot of young families out there that would love to go to games and cannot afford it. I’d rather see them actually filling up the seats than students not making the trip across town because Kansas or Iowa isn’t in town.
JackCyclone writes: What’s necessary to see the Cyclones getting a 2 seed in the big dance?
CW: Only lose once more in the regular season and win the Big 12 Tournament?
Triggermv writes: How many more victims will Texas Tech claim before the season ends for them?
CW: I sure wouldn’t want to have that squad on my favorite team’s schedule from here on out…
The Red Raiders could turn out to be a good friend to Iowa State’s the rest of the way. Hopefully for the Cyclones, Tubby Smith’s troop plays the role of spoiler.
Texas Tech’s schedule the rest of the way and my projections:
@ Oklahoma State – LOSS
vs. Kansas State – WIN
@ Baylor – LOSS
@ Kansas – LOSS
vs. Texas – WIN
Cyclonin writes: Is it too early to talk about CF bus trip for football this fall?
Ideally, where would you like to have the men’s basketball team placed for (city location) rounds 2 and 3? (I say St. Louis)
CW: It’s never too early to talk about a bus trip. Chances are, we will do Kansas next season.
St. Louis or Milwaukee. Either would be closer than Dayton was last season.
CyberJJJ writes: MBB: Nice to see adjustments Fred made in game 2 vs. Texas. If we face them again in the Big 12 Tourney (2/3 game), what are the next chess moves? Recently we have seen Percy one game and Daniel in another or two. What has determined who played, and how are they developing in practice? As the season grinds on and we use a short bench, how does that change intensity of practice?
CW: I’m not exactly sure what has happened in practice but based off of what my eyes have seen, here is my analysis on the Gibson/Edozie debate:
Edozie always gives you energy on the defensive end. He is a decent rebounder, can block a shot and a legitimate physical presence in the paint. Gibson is a better offensive option than Edozie, but he brings little to nothing to the table on defense and frankly, has really struggled with the ball in his hands this season.
Because Iowa State needs more help on defense and rebounding than it does with interior offense, I think we’ll see more Daniel Edozie than Gibson going forward.
Wesley writes: Who will be the starting quarterback under Mangino’s schemes?
CW: Iowa State football is just one giant quarterback controversy that never ends.
Joel Lanning is the sexy name because nobody really knows anything about him but I really think that either Grant Rohach or Sam Richardson will be the guy.
Rohach really came into his own at the end of last season and deserves to take the first snap this spring but I haven’t given up on Richardson either. He was hurt worse than we knew last season and probably got a little gun-shy because of it. I still believe that he can be a solid signal-caller for the Cyclones.