By Kirk Haaland of enCYCLONEpedia.comFollow Kirk on Twitter @Khaal53
Pause. Savor this moment, Cyclone fans.
It’s just the beginning of March and there is still so much for the Iowa State basketball team to play for. While we get caught in the moment of how each game could possibly affect the NCAA seed for the Cyclones or who will be the draw in their bracket, now may be a good time to pause and look some things over and most importantly, soak this all up.
It strikes me whenever I watch the 100 years of Iowa State basketball DVD. Perhaps it shouldn’t because I completely understand but when you stop to think about it but it is still kind of mind-blowing. What I am referencing is a Paul Shirley quote, and I’m paraphrasing, “We never had a chance to stop and enjoy our season because we were so focused on each game and getting better, the coaching staff didn’t allow us to celebrate what we were doing during the season.”
That makes perfect sense…if you’re on the team. We are not on the team.
Heading in to this season there were some wild hopes and expectations placed on this group of transfers and Iowa State’s head coach. The only thing that matched the high hopes of the fans was the questions from outsiders.
Could this team mesh and gel together? Would all of these misfits even make it on the floor? How can all of these personalities come together?
Those questions were answered, emphatically.
The “how” behind the answers may be a bit sketchy, my best guess is most of the questioning done by outsiders was baseless in the first place, to a point. For some reason, while transferring from school to school has become the norm, it still has quite the negative stigma.
Royce White and Chris Allen had some apparent issues personally or with their former team before coming to Ames, but what did Anthony Booker, Chris Babb, or Scott Christopherson (included because television broadcasts include him on the infamous “Transfer List”) do at their previous schools that would lead anyone to believe they couldn’t — or wouldn’t be a good teammate?
The evolution of Scott Christopherson, the dominance of Royce White, the improvement of Chris Allen, the defensive stopper in Chris Babb, the spark plug in Tyrus McGee, and the ho-hum energy, defense, and effort of Melvin Ejim have carried this team to where it is now.
But, where does this team stand right now in Cyclone history?
Consider that in 105 years of Iowa State basketball…
- Twenty-two wins is the third most all-time at this juncture of the season (prior to the conference tournament).
- Their overall win percentage of 0.7097 is the eighth best at the end of the regular season and four of the better seasons happened in 1955-56 or earlier.
- This is just the 10thtime that Iowa State has won nine conference games or more and the fifth time that it has won 10 conference games or more.
- There have been 39 seasons that ISU was 0.500 or better in conference play and just 19 of them have occurred since the 1957-58 season.
- This year’s conference winning percentage of 0.6667 is tied for the ninth best all-time with a total of 12 teams but is just one of three instances that it has happened since the 1957-58 season.
- Since the formation of the Big Eight for the 1958-59 season, there have been 54 years of basketball and this is just the 12thtime that ISU has finished tied for third or better.
That is three times in 54 years of basketball that the Cyclones have won 66.67 percent of their conference games or more.
All of this may leave some wondering about the “proud basketball tradition” in Ames, Iowa but it shouldn’t. Iowa State doesn’t have a proud tradition for all of the national titles that have been won or conference championship trophies that are sitting in the trophy case or because of the numerous seasons that Iowa State has X number of years with a conference winning percentage over 0.500.
Iowa State has a proud basketball tradition because it is a proud basketball school that has a mutual love affair between the fans and the program. Cyclone football is on the rise and has had its share of great moments and great teams. While there will always be support for both, if you twisted the arm of the average Cyclone fan, basketball would come first for them.
The ride has already been a blast this season as the Cyclones have vaulted back in to relevance both in the conference and nationally. There is still a lot of work to be done, games to be played and seeds to be earned but we as fans would be remiss if we didn’t look back now.
Pause, for just a moment. Look at where this team was in November and through December. It wasn’t even Christmas and we thought our hopes of an NCAA bid were falling out of sight.
Forget for a moment that the quarterfinal game with Texas will be tough as they fight for their tournament lives, or what seed the Cyclones would earn if they made it to the Big 12 championship game, or who Joe Lunardi has ISU matched up with in his latest "Bracketology."
Just pause. Appreciate what has already been done. Be a fan, and soak up how much fun this season has been.
A lot of history could still be written over the next few weeks, but right now this team has already proven that it is one of the best ever in the history of Cyclone basketball. Now let’s see how good they can be this season, against the rest of the NCAA.