What a game. WHAT A GAME!

The first half was just like I expected it to be. It was low scoring as the teams battled back and forth for the lead. Defense was at times really good and at times leaving you scratching your head about “what were they thinking?”. The team was held in the game almost solely by our lone senior – Ms. Bolte. She was hitting from the beginning tonight, not having to find her stroke. It was dead on as she scored 14 of our 25 first half points.

The defense was puzzling at times as KU would set a pick and our ladies would switch assignments. The problem was that KU was creating mismatches…particularly for their bigs. All too often our big would switch, then try to get back to their original player (who was covered by the person they switched with) and that would leave a KU player….particularly #13…open. This allowed KU to get some easy shots that kept them in it during the first half. Honestly, it looked like we should have pulled away in the first. We built a nine point lead (19-10) and let them whittle away at it until it was actually a close game at the break. As has been the case all season, ISU held the ball for a last chance score at the end of the half. I’m not sure why, but this team just doesn’t have the shooters to execute this. I can’t remember seeing our ladies convert an end-of-half possession all season. My memory is short and I may be wrong, but you get my drift. Its not something we can bank on. Coach F. stated after the game that the final 8 minutes of the first half was some of the worst offensive play we’ve had.

The best part of the first half was seeing KU’s Davis get in foul trouble. She sat down rather quickly with a meager 2 points and we wouldn’t see her until the second half where she was largely a non-factor ending with 6 points and major frustration.

The second half started out nearly as slowly (scoring-wise) as the first. The difference was a clearly tough and steady defense. KU’s shooting percentage would drop bit by bit as they struggled to get clear shots off. In the mean time something strange was happening in the sisters’ game. Other than making one three pointer, Bolt’s offense stopped. Usually that is a recipe for disaster on this squad. You begin to wonder who would step up? Tonight it was the ENTIRE team. I saw more movement, hustle, and aggressive drives than I’ve seen in a long time.

Many of the people I’ve talked to felt the change was because of Zimm. I’ll give her due in a moment, but I have to mention a couple of players in particular. First, Jess Schroll. It is no surprise that she has made her way into the starting lineup. While she doesn’t heavily impact the scoring – yet – she shows up defensively and in hustle. She is probably the fastest woman on the team as evidenced by her steal and full court drive for a layup. She raced past everyone and muscled through the loan defender trying to stop her. I really like what she brings to the sisters’ game. The other player who makes a big diff is Chas. Loz has struggled the past two games with illness and Chas has stepped in and played a big role in running the offense. She’s not perfect. She missed a couple of bunnies and turned the ball over a couple of times, but without her we would have been in trouble.

Zimm. In the press conference after the game she mentioned that Coach F. constantly told her to be ready. Her time would come. That time came in this game. She said she was shocked that the first play had her name on it. She took advantage with a quick 3. It seemed the more she performed the better her confidence and that led to her best game performance as a Cyclone. She worked inside and out. She didn’t disappear as she has done in games past. A wonderful sight to see!!

The ladies went on a couple of runs to break this one open. One big difference was that they were running and not walking the ball up the court. The game sped up and the ladies showed a swagger that has been missing as a team. Many times you notice players because of the mistakes they make. I could pick on the missed bunnies by our primary bigs or their fouls. Perhaps the turnovers in the game by our guards. In the second half, many of the players who were put into the game didn’t stand out. They were playing as a unit. Cohesive. Smooth. Harris, Cole, Zimm, Jess…everyone contributed to this win.

Perhaps the most interesting observation I can make is that Bolt sat down for a big piece of the second half. She got some REST. Yet, while she was out the team continued to function flawlessly. The lead extended. I told my buddy that we were watching next year’s team without the new recruits. It definitely gave me hope about what is to come post-Bolte.

So…the second half was what I called an old fashioned butt-whooping. 47-16. Thirty six points are the fewest given up to any team in Iowa State’s Big 12 history. That is five points more than Davis scored against us in Lawrence. Amazing.

Fantastic crowd last night. They were loud and energetic. They helped extend that energy to the players and, believe me, they noticed. After the game Bolte gave a very nice senior speech. I was worried when I saw she had something like 6 pages. Fortunately she was the only one! Nicely done and she gave credit where credit was due, even thoroughly embarrassing Carp by kiddingly asking him for a date.

Here is the situation. Our ladies can actually tie for 3rd if OU collapses and we win on Sat at Mizzou. Worse case scenario is that we end up 5th if we lose and TTech wins out. Considering TTech has to play Texas and OU which is not the easiest of schedules. I’m liking our chances.

Had a great time meeting ConeClone last night after the game! Arson joined us and we had a nice chat before those guys had to deal with the long ride back to Kansas City. Hope to see a bunch of you in Kansas City next week!