By Kirk Haaland, CycloneFanatic.com blogger I’m not sure yet if I’m in the silent minority or the silent majority, but I still think this Iowa State men’s basketball team has a chance to play in March, and that is certainly a silent opinion to hold. There are no quality wins to speak of and a hole has been dug, but a run can be put together to start building a tourney resume for March. But it has to start on Wednesday in Norman. While 10 conference wins all but locks up a bid, nine wins would certainly garner attention. Let it be known that I haven’t said exactly how likely this is to happen, but nevertheless, I’m about to lay out what has to happen to play meaningful basketball in March.
I said way back before the season started that if the team could go 2-3 through this first five-game stretch, that they would be in good shape. And that was when nearly all of us thought this team would be performing at a much higher level. I had the Texas Tech game notched as a win and the Oklahoma game notched as a loss, now that just has to be reversed. While there is cause for concern with the way the team has performed in certain areas over the past two games, we need to remember the schedule hasn’t been the easiest since conference play began. Had the first two home games been against Oklahoma State and Colorado they could’ve just as easily resulted in wins. Then we’d be sitting at a cautiously optimistic 3-1 in league play.
If this team is to make the NCAA tournament they must win out at home. A tall order for sure, but a task that must be accomplished. This would more than likely also provide a win over a ranked team when Kansas State comes to town. Of the six road games remaining, two must be wins. Oklahoma and Colorado are the two most likely to fit that bill, thus, why the game on Wednesday is so huge. The only way to overcome a loss to the Sooners would be to knock of Baylor, Kansas State, Missouri, or Kansas on the road. All of those games are considered extremely unlikely to put in the win column.
Getting to nine wins in one of the toughest leagues in America would be a good start to getting into the Big Dance. Of course, a win or two in Kansas City would likely propel the team past the bubble status.
I wouldn’t have lifted the suspension, but that’s me. Coach Mac had enough information on hand to make a decision to bring him back early. While it isn’t what I would’ve done, I’m not going to storm Ames on my moral high horse and say that Greg has lost control of the ship and the inmates are running the asylum. I’m not sure how much good has really been accomplished by straddling the fence on the situation by lifting the suspension, yet only playing him 10 minutes per game.
Problems at the point
The most disappointing aspect of last week after the departure of Lucca Staiger to me was the lackluster play of Diante Garrett. He’s one of the most experienced players on the roster, a team leader, and he’s supposed to be an effective option on the offensive end. Instead, he started poorly against Tech and was yanked out of the game and made numerous errors with the ball early against Kansas. When depth is already limited, we must have the starting point guard contributing and playing well.
Speaking of the short roster, everyone is correct that no one else is going to feel sorry for the guys on the team or the coaching staff. So why continue to reference that in interviews and press conferences? Maybe it’s the newness of the situation, but there have been plenty of good teams that have only played seven guys when the option was there to play more.
History lesson article from last week
It was correctly pointed out by many, when referencing the departures under McDermott that Floyd and Eustachy especially get a bit of a free pass because of all the success during their respective eras. That is certainly correct and not a point that I am about to argue. However, I still don’t believe that necessarily makes it right. A few situations I have realized that emphasize that point are the departures of Shane Power, Adam Haluska, and Brandon Hawkins. All occurred under the tutelage of Larry Eustachy after winning the back to back titles. The Power and Haluska situations were shocking off-season departures similar to the Wesley Johnson fiasco and Hawkins left early in the 2000-01 season after starting every game, similar to Lucca. The point to consider is how vehemently Eustachy was supported by the fan base at those times compared to how much flack McDermott catches. It’s obvious as to why that happened, but that really drove home the issue for me.
Big win in Austin
Just when you think the women are out of the game they storm back to force overtime and win a road game against a ranked team in Texas. Last week there was a bracketology update on ESPN that had the women as an eight seed and would likely play UCONN in the second round—in Ames. This would be a monumental task, but quite frankly a game that I would love. Hilton would be banged out and Geno Auriemma is on my most despised coaches list from any sport. Handing his team an “L” would be very unlikely but the opportunity would be welcomed.
2-0 in Oklahoma
Two big road meets over the course of one weekend with Oklahoma and a revived Oklahoma State team resulted in wins for the Cyclone grapplers. You have to like the way this team continues to progress under Kevin Jackson. It’s certainly disappointing to hear of Nick Gallick’s season ending surgery, but even more disappointing would be if the NCAA refuses to give him a hardship year. If the NCAA is truly looking out for the student-athletes, this is a case where a sixth-year is deserved. I just for the life of me can’t imagine sitting out the end of a career due to injury. Tough road meets still loom ahead with Cornell and Arizona State, before returning home to continue conference action against Missouri.
Did you know…
While doing some research for trivia questions I came up with a couple of interesting tid-bits that didn’t really work as trivia questions but I still wanted to share them.
Did you know there was once a John John in the Cyclone basketball program? He was the son of head coach Maury John, whom died tragically too soon early in his Iowa State tenure. Maury John, of course, led the great Drake teams in the sixties including the final four team that fell to UCLA in the middle of their great dynasty.
Hurl Beechum, Fred Hoiberg, Loren Meyer, and Julius Michalik all came to Iowa State as freshman for the 1991-92 season and played all four years in Ames Over that time they combined for these numbers: 5,689 points, 2,275 rebounds, 888 assists, 459 steals 240 blocked shots, 385 made three pointers while playing in 471 games and starting 323 times. That deserves a WOW from Dave Armstrong.
Last week’s question: Who is the only Cyclone men’s basketball player to be in the top 20 of most points scored in a season, but not the top 20 for most points scored in their career?
Answer: Tyray Pearson (it should be noted that if you count Craig Brackins’ points from this season he would bump Dedric Willoughby out of the top 20 all time and making him the answer to this question as well).
This week: What Cyclone scored the most points in an NCAA tournament win? How many points and who was that game against?