Williams Blog: Jottings from a Cyclone stinger in Austin

Chris Williams

Publisher

Happy Valentines Day Cyclone Nation.

Let me guess…Instead of smiling, beaming with love on your mind and celebrating this holiday that is strongly endorsed by flower shops and Hallmark with your hunny, you’re still licking your wounds from last night’s 89-86 double-overtime loss to Texas? 

I dig.

Not to throw salt in those very fresh wounds, but I have a few extra points from the game, which I will do so in quick hit form. 

--- I got a lot of tweets fired my way (I am everyone's friend after a win, whipping boy after a loss) last night’s game that went something like this: “Bring on the NIT.”

I saw a lot of those threads pop up on our forum too. While losing to a 2-8 basketball team doesn’t help anything, last night’s performance is FAR from being the end of the world for Iowa State. If that obnoxious pessimist guy in the cubicle next to you is saying that today, he is wrong and here is why.

Let’s visit KenPom.com for a moment. Not that Ken Pomeroy is the be all, end all voice of college basketball, but he is without question a very well respected man. As of now, KenPom.com has Iowa State finishing 10-8 in the Big 12. That is WITH a loss to Kansas at Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 25.

Now have I or have I not told you for a month now that Iowa State NEEDS to win out at home to comfortably make the Big Dance? Sure, the Kansas game was always a wild card but that was when the Jayhawks were a top five team in America. That is no longer the case. Win out at home, steal one on the road (KenPom.com has Iowa State winning at West Virginia) and Iowa State will be an 11-7 basketball team when all of the smoke clears. Regardless of what happens in Kansas City, that SHOULD get the Cyclones in.

By no means am I some prophet and yes, Iowa State could fail to qualify for the tournament, but to say that it is over on Feb. 14 is asinine and irrational. 

--- It isn’t like Iowa State hasn't shown up for these road games (besides Texas Tech of course). In fact, you can make the argument that the Cyclones have played fairly well away from home, other than in crunch time obviously. Iowa State only committed eight turnovers in 50 minutes last night. Texas only out-rebounded the Clones by one so it isn’t like that stat was skewed. Winning on the road is hard. You have to bring it for 40 minutes. Last night, as Texas went on an 18-2 run in the first half, Iowa State basically gave the game away. 

--- Ever read the book “Moneyball?” If you haven’t, the book is about Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and his approach to the game. Basically, Beane likes guys who get on base. A walk is the same thing as a hit in his mind. Defense doesn’t really matter to Beane. If you score more runs than the other team, you will win. It is that simple. 

That’s kind of comparable to Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State team right now. They chuck a lot of threes. They score a lot of points. But the Cyclones aren’t what I’d call defensive juggernauts. While you’d like to think that Iowa State could get a few more stops at the end of games, you also have to realize that defense has never been and never will be this specific team’s strength. You’ve just got to hope that you’re making more threes than the other guys (with other factors too of course).

--- Speaking of poor defenses, Texas’ 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime was on Will Clyburn. I re-watched that sequence and by my calculations, Texas went to its fourth option on that inbounds play (it was damn close to five seconds too). Rick Barnes sent three cutters through, they chucked into the paint, kicked it out and it was almost like a broken play. Clyburn was supposed to foul but didn’t. Onto overtime we went and the rest was history.

--- If you are out there trying to compare this loss to the Texas Tech game (I've seen this a few times now), you’re nutty. For one, the talent difference between Tech and the Horns is insanely different. Secondly, Myck Kabongo’s return to the Longhorn lineup did exactly what I feared it would do. The rest of that team played with more energy and confidence while getting better shots along the way. Texas has three league wins now. Don’t be surprised if they have six or seven at the end of the regular season. Kabongo does that much for that squad. 

--- Another reason those two losses aren’t comparable…I didn’t feel like the Cyclones even got off of the plane against Texas Tech. They half-assed it the entire night. I thought that the guys played their butts off last night. They hit big shots down the stretch. How many 1-and-1’s did the guys hit in the final four minutes of regulation? Again – winning on the road is tough. You can’t give up 18-2 runs away from home and win very often. Period.

--- On a positive note, how good was Melvin Ejim last night? Twenty and 16? Are you kidding me? I think that he took four charges too…

--- On the Percy Gibson’s rough seven minutes…

Is he simply getting a taste of life without Royce White? Just think about it. Gibson converted on 66 percent of his shots last season. But how much of that had to do with Royce White? How many of those were wide-open layups and dunks?

That’s all I’ve got for now. Remember – no Cyclone Fanatic Radio Show tonight due to Iowa State women’s basketball on 1460 KXNO.

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