Its time to look at the post-season. When I look back at the beginning of the year there were a lot of unknowns about this squad.

1. Would Kelsey Bolte step out of the “stand on the 3 point line and wait for the ball” role she has played for three years?
2. Would we have a point guard?
3. Would the post players improve over last year?
4. How would the rookies fair? Would Harris be the hot shot we all hoped for? Could a girl from a small school in Iowa make it in the big leagues?

Let’s tackle these in order.

1. Definitely. Bolte not only stepped off the 3 point line, she grabbed the leadership cap and strapped it on. She has been everything we all could hope for. With the exception of 2-3 games she has been a consistently outstanding performer and should be first team all league. She is shooting 45% overall and 44% from beyond the arc while averaging 17.1 points per game. Add to that hitting 89+% from the charity stripe and 5 boards. Pretty darn good line. What else would I have liked to see? More free throws. I’d have liked to see her get even more aggressive and draw the fouls.
2. Yes. We have two. Are they what we’ve been used to over the years? Well, we’ve been spoiled with the likes of Lacey, Medders, Frese and more. Pretty heady company. Loz has stepped in as an undersized point and performed pretty well handling the ball. She is averaging 9 points a game while maintaining a 1.5 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. Cole has gotten better as the season has gone on while averaging the same 1.5 to 1 turnover to assist ratio and 2.5 points a game. Face it. We are spoiled and are all hoping for more from the ENTIRE guard court next year. It is nice know we have experience coming back next year.
3. Sometimes. Yes. No. The one thing that was consistent all year is that Pop gives her all every single game. It may not be pretty, but she is out there scrapping for every ball. She does the dirty work. Her free throw shooting has improved to where she is hitting 65% on the season. With what I’ve seen lately (her latest change) I think it will be in the 70’s next year. Prins and Zimm are so off and on again that its difficult to figure them out. Prins’ last game was the perfect example of her potential. Yet, she has too many games where she is non-existent. She is very weak in her hands and can’t jump. This needs to improve. Zimm is either non-existent (poor footwork on defense, no contribution on offense) or an unbelievable spark where she can light up the board with a splash of points in a moment’s notice. Obviously there is potential here too. For Prins and Zimm there needs to be consistency and improvements in their game skills.
4. The rookies. Big C. Harris. Arganbright. Dick. Let’s start out with Dick. She left early. Arganbright has been fun to watch, but obviously is buried deep on the bench. When she has been in she hasn’t made mistakes and shows some nice confidence. Definitely a project. Harris. I was really hoping she would be the next deep threat. Her reputation as a four time all state selection in California had me looking forward to seeing her. Obviously the adjustment to the big leagues has been a big one. She has a shot, but needs to pick up in other areas. The game is quicker than what she seems used to. I think she will end up being a solid contributor next year, still coming off the bench. Big C. This girl should make the All Frosh team easily. She is slender and you’d think she would just get bounced around. Then you realize she is a very good athlete. She has skills. She is aggressive. She is not afraid (at least not any more!). Contributes 9 ppg, 5 boards, shoots 51% (mostly in close), and 81% from the line. Pretty darn good for the small town girl.

What about the post season this year? My crystal ball changes its prediction every time I shake it…err…rub it…whatever… Here are some of the storylines.

Big 12 Tourney
#5 seed so we play day 1. Nebraska is not a very good team. They were regulars in the top 25 early based on last year’s performance. That is past history. They did one thing we didn’t – beat TTech. Otherwise they weren’t in very many Big 12 games. If ISU has at least an average game we should win. An average game will be a close one and a bit nerve wracking. I predict a first round win. Second round we play KSU one more time. They will have one more day to prepare for us. Both games were close (7 and 8 points) victories for ISU which means this one is literally a toss up. If the scorers, particularly Bolte and at least one other player, don’t show up this is definitely a loss. To get a third victory over KSU the sisters are going to have to get balanced scoring, win the FT war, and dominate the boards. Solid defense is a must in every game ISU plays no matter who we play. If we win we probably will get Baylor. Remember, we went there and gave them everything they could handle. Bolte and Prins were the only ones to put up much for offense. We need more. Critical will be a collapsing defense on Griner and someone to hound Sims. Not impossible, but I’m here to talk about possibilities not realities. A win and ISU not only gets back to the finals again, but raises their NCAA seed. A loss and ISU probably gets a 7 seed in the tourney…perhaps a 6. The finals would more than likely bring ATM. Tough game in Ames with refs that let the ATM bruisers beat us up. If they refs call it the way it should be ISU has a chance. If they don’t it won’t be pretty. My prediction for the tourney? Wow. Tough one. We are so schizo at times. Will our scorers show up? If they do then I’m predicting a 2-1 record. If they have a multi-headed dragon on offense then its possible to go 3-1. Then the gas runs out. If the offense plays like it did against Mizzou yesterday we go 0-1 and see our NCAA seed plummet to a 9 and drop out of the top 25.

Here is my voting for some completely made up awards on my part. Chime in if you want.

MVP – no doubt. Bolt. Outstanding senior season for someone who will be considered an all time Cyclone great. Congrats Kels. You have been amazing!

Most Improved – In my mind it’s Jess Schroll. She was a bit player last year and through the beginning of this year. I had high hopes after last year that she would use her speed and slashing ability to tear up the court. It just took longer than what I thought, but she is now starting and making critical contributions to this team. If she can work on her outside shot (she is 2-13 from 3 point land this year) she could be scary dangerous. Jess has become my favorite on this year’s team just for her gritty, no nonsense, hustle and determination.

Rookie of the Year – Again, no question. Big C is it. Loz is second. Big C has come in, gained confidence, and let everyone know that she is going to be a force to be reckoned with for three more years. Loz has made a solid contribution and will be even better next year when she is surrounded by even more talent.

Bench Player of the Year – Has to be Cole. We had no depth at the point and she was forced to get better or we would have been in serious trouble. After Loz and Cole there isn’t anyone else unless you turn to Big C who played some point in high school. That thought doesn’t excite me. Cole slowly improved to be a solid fill in for Loz. Doesn’t score much, misses critical free throws at times, but she got the job done.

The “I do whatever needs to be done” Award – Pop. She does the dirty work. She scraps for boards. She is the best at faking…I mean taking…a charge. She will rip your arm off if you try to take a rebound away from her. She clears out and is not adverse to introducing her elbow to your nose. Her free throw shooting continues to get better. She still misses layups and can’t shoot from outside, but if you need something done that is down and dirty…call Pop’s name.

My wish list for 2011-12
Prins – I want to see you jumping rope and squeezing a grip strengthener everywhere you go. You have a sweet shot. Now I just want to see you jump for rebounds and have some hand strength. Stay healthy. You’ve had illness two years in a row and no one deserves that. Be strong. Be determined. Kick some butt next year.

Pop – continue to work on free throws and develop a jump shot. That’s it.

Cole – shoot 300 free throws a day. Develop your outside shot. Go to Medders camp.

Loz – Grow. OK, that isn’t realistic. Keep working on your outside shot to become a threat. Become a leader and put some expectations on everyone to step up their games. Show the rookies the ropes.

Big C – get stronger. The rest is good enough.

Jess – work on the outside shot. If you can shoot from outside it will make your slash to the basket even more effective.

Zimm – work on your footwork. Watch “Footloose” a few dozen times. You have the shot. You are strong. Just keep working hard and as Coach F. says…your time will come.

Harris – get stronger, gain confidence. Work on your speed. Shoot a gazillion 3’s in the off season. It should be automatic every time you put it up.

Arganbright – Just keep working on your all around game. Understand your role on the team and do it to the best of your ability.

Coaching Staff – keep looking for the jewels that will fill out this unit. Obviously this year we are lacking in the area of 3 point threats in the guard court. Everyone is clamoring for Iowa talent. I just want you to put the best team on the court possible. Last request? Invite me to play golf some weekend. I stink, but the conversation would be fantastic!