By CF Blogger, Kirk Haaland
The biggest wrestling meet of the year, anywhere in the country is less than a week away. It is time to start getting fired up for another run for the Cyclone grapplers to bring home a national title. I am mostly a casual fan of wrestling that understands all of the basics but couldn’t break down a match to save my life. I do hope for a more aggressive and intense style under the new leadership of Kevin Jackson. This senior class came to Ames to win a national title as a team and has yet to do so. This could well be the year that is accomplished. However, the path to the national title runs through Iowa City. The first true test of this Cyclone team will be against the Hawkeyes on Sunday. I originally had my buddy who is a wrestling aficionado write up a preview on the big dual but his quality of writing was simply to great to be included in this mindless tripe. Look for his preview on the Iowa State vs. Iowa wrestling meet later in the week here on CF.
Disappointing loss, big games ahead
The Northwestern loss at the Chicago Invitational was disappointing but certainly nothing to get riled up over, unless you were planning on an undefeated season that is. Maybe it didn’t sting as much for me because I had predicted a loss before the season anyway, albeit to Notre Dame. Bumps in the road were expected with all of the new talent to mesh and gel, but the game was lost in the second half with shots from point blank range that just didn’t fall. Missed five-footers are not an indictment on McDermott’s coaching abilities.
The play drawn up for Jamie Vanderbeken to take the game tying three was a good decision from my view. Lucca Staiger was going to have a hard time getting a shot off. Scott Christopherson never had much of a chance to get into rhythm, and Vanderbeken had been shooting it well. He shot the best percentage from 3-point land last season and has the height to get the shot off. The poorest decision late in the game came when Staiger attempted a three early in the shot clock when the deficit was only two. That was a time where the ball had to be routed through Craig Brackins.
MLB division titles aren’t lost after being swept in one series in May and NCAA Tournament bids aren’t lost with one game in November. If it should end up being in the bad loss column by the time March rolls around, there are still multiple chances for quality wins in non-conference and conference play alike to offset it—especially games with Duke, Cal, Bradley (who beat Illinois), Houston (who beat Oklahoma) and Northern Iowa. If this is the worst loss of the season, then we are all in for a great year. Actual bad losses from previous NCAA Tournament teams at ISU would be like the late February loss at home to Nebraska in 2004-05, when a tourney berth was on the line or the Baylor debacle in the Big 12 Tournament, in 2001.
A few years ago, I was watching a football game with my brother when another baffling statement was uttered from a commentator. We decided that the setting was far too conducive to such examples of awful announcing, given that there is so much time to talk about things that do not need so much analysis. Message boards are much the same, the anonymity and amount of time allotted to scrutinizing things that have no need for so much analysis seems to cause some to spiral out of control and lose their minds. Let’s just keep the big picture in focus.
Despite the Oklahoma State no-show against Oklahoma, Iowa State is now assured of a Big 12 bowl game since Missouri came through in the second half against a disappointing Kansas team. If the Big 12 title game goes as many believe and Texas beats Nebraska, that would leave just one BCS team from the Big 12 and likely leave the Cyclones heading to either the Independence Bowl or the Texas Bowl. Some indications are beginning to point to the Independence Bowl not letting Texas A&M slide past their spot in the selection process, leaving ISU to the Texas Bowl. If Nebraska should pull the upset that would move everyone up a notch and leave ISU to either the Insight Bowl or Independence Bowl. In that scenario my best guess would be that the Clones would be heading to Arizona and A&M would still go to the Independence Bowl, due to ISU fans and their greater likelihood to travel so Phoenix than A&M supporters.
Kirk’s Quick Thoughts
* The ISU volleyball team and Big 12 elite volleyball teams got absolutely hosed in the NCAA selection process. Placing ISU, Texas, Nebraska, and Texas A&M in the same region is an abysmal effort by the NCAA. That’s four of the six Big 12 teams in the same region.
* Paul Rhoads should be the Big 12 Coach of the Year. Bill Snyder? He had one more win than last season but played an extra FCS game. Mack Brown? For what? Managing the man love between Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley? Bo Pelini? Maybe, he had a strong second season but I can’t say what fraction of it was due to his outstanding coaching. Rhoads has done more with less and had a huge turn-around from last season and had a defining win at Nebraska.
* I don’t have any answers as to why Marquis Gilstrap saw such little action in the second half against Northwestern. McDermott said in his weekly press conference on Monday that Gilstrap has bronchitis, but who knows if that was the issue on Saturday. Either way, he’s a game changer and he wasn’t on the floor.
* The Iowa State women’s basketball team bounced back nicely after the loss to Drake by picking up two convincing wins at a Thanksgiving tournament in Chicago. Even if the teams weren’t exactly world-beaters, they were big wins to get this ball rolling back in the right direction.
* I mostly despise the Heisman Trophy because I still have the taste of bitterness from Troy Davis being spurned. This year’s race was shaping up like the OJ Simpson car “chase” in 1994. It’s true that there are contenders for the trophy; it’s just that none of them had been moving all that fast. But Toby Gerhart won me over with his performance against Notre Dame on Saturday night. He now leads the nation with 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season.
This week’s foray into the world of Cyclone trivia
Jeff Grayer is the only Cyclone to score more than 600 points in a season three times, there are two others that have done it twice. Can you name them?