Outside The Men’s Room: Cyclone History Theatre

Cyclone History Theater:  17 straight for The Mayor

By Kirk Haaland, Contributor

Surely everyone remembers “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” and all of its glamorous days gracing us from Comedy Central, right?  This is my spin-off in written form.  Only, instead of covering a lame movie with a guy and two puppets mocking it the entire way I’m going to cover a classic ISU basketball game with just me offering some smarmy and extremely insightful commentary.  My version probably won’t be as funny as one of their episodes or as enlightening as one of Bill Simmons’ “Retro Diary’s”, but really, this stuff is free so it’s difficult to complain.

The following will be the anecdotal musings that rush from my brain to my fingertips while re-watching one of the classic Iowa State men’s basketball games of the 90’s.  The scene is a rowdy Hilton Coliseum early in the conference season with the #3 Kansas Jayhawks paying a visit to the senior laden #23 Iowa State Cyclones.  It was the second conference game of the season and ISU had already lost a road game to Colorado before this game was played on January 14th, 1995.

Truth be told, I wanted the game at hand to be the Big 8 title game from the following year solely so I could crack on Ed Hightower throughout, as that game was before he became a member of “Toupee Wearers Anonymous”—not to mention all of the material that Billy Packer would surely have offered up.  However, with the recent hiring of Fred Hoiberg I allowed the relevance of the ’95 game with Kansas to win out in my selection process.  Prepare to be underwhelmed…

Prior to the tip – Fred White welcomes us to the broadcast with his partner, Jon Sundvold, by detailing the starters.  For KU:  Jacque Vaughn, Jerod Haase (I can’t stand that guy, he seems like he would fit in well for the Duke teams of the past 10 years.  White, oft flopper, good shooter, smart, flops a lot, scrappy, and generally annoying), Sean Pearson, Raef LaFrentz (a freshman making his first trip back to Iowa after becoming the first of what would become many highly touted high school players over the next decade plus to leave Iowa for greener pastures), and everyone’s favorite:  Greg Ostertag.

I’m treading lightly here, but Iowa State is going with the rare big-time D1 starting lineup that is compromised of five white guys (I know that isn’t PC, but when was the last time we saw that?).  Three Iowans, an un-recruited Kansan, and a Euro.  Otherwise known as Fred Hoiberg, Loren Meyer, Hurl Beechum (although he starts in this game he actually fails to ever show up), Jacy Holloway, and the incomparable Julius Michalik.

First Half

18:07 – Greg Ostertag catches the ball at the high post and is most closely guarded by an usher on the upper concourse.  Clank.

17:00 – The first glimpse of a patented Tim Floyd “junk defense” with the “Triangle and Two” having Hoiberg and Holloway in full face-guard mode on Pearson and Haase.  Floyd’s daringness to use things like this is what made him great but it also had its drawbacks, more on that later.

16:14 – Scot Pollard makes his first appearance…it’s a little bit strange to see him minus the “Samurai warrior” hair-do that he sported through so much of his NBA career.

15:42 – Entering the first TV timeout, I’d like to take the time to note a couple of Hilton observations.  First, and most importantly, is the lack of Pioneer logos on the court.  Believe me, I understand the thought process, it’s just nice to have the old walking Cy logo in each location instead.  The other thing is something I have noticed a lot when watching these old games.  When did it become necessity to wear your team’s sporting apparel to the games?  While many of the fans are donning the cardinal and gold on this afternoon, it probably isn’t more than 50%.  There’s a lot of plain shirts and flannel—thanks a lot Nirvana.

By the way, first commercial is advertising the “sporty” Plymouth Neon…that just seems weird to me now.

10:40 – Hoiberg drives right and into the lane and hits a runner that banks in.  Sundvold’s remark, “When you’re The Mayor the bank is open on Saturday afternoon.”  Example #(infinity) of unique ways to reference the nickname “The Mayor”.

10:24 – Raef LaFrentz has yet to score.  And if I may rant for a moment; the lack of a scoreboard on the screen at all times is making this process more difficult than I would have guessed.  That little scoreboard that is constantly there has changed the way we view games.  It’s not much different than your favorite “blanky” from childhood that was always there to comfort you with the knowledge of time and score.

10:10 – Hoiberg hits his second three-ball of the game to give ISU the 21-20 lead and he currently has eight points.  That caps a 10-0 run by ISU that was largely provided by Hoiberg and…Jason Kimbrough.  Remember that name?  Kimbrough was a quality point guard that was in the same class as Holloway but transferred to Western Michigan after the 94-95 season.

7:00 – Loren Meyer makes a sweet drop-step spin move toward the baseline and puts up a one hand floater that swishes home.  His athleticism is vaguely evident on this play.  The one play in his career where I best remember him displaying said athleticism happened in his freshman year against Oklahoma State.

Meyer was sprinting down court on a fast break and received a pass as he was approaching the rim.  At the time he caught the ball he was given a “nudge” by a defender that sent Meyer sailing under the hoop with ball in hand.  This left him with the task of attempting to get the shot off before landing in press row.  Somehow he managed to scoop the ball behind and over his head and convert the shot while his torso was seemingly completely behind the backboard and continuing to move further in that direction. How a near seven foot, white kid from Iowa was able to accomplish this feat is still a puzzler.

5:42 – Haase rattles home a three-pointer off of every inch of the rim…still can’t stand that guy.  Still no points for Raef.

3:20 – Another three-pointer for Hoiberg off of a fast break pull-up jumper where KU players covered up everyone but Hoiberg with the ball—unwise decision.  ISU takes the 37-35 lead and Hoiberg has 13 points.

Under 4-minute TV timeout – More commentary on commercials…Mr. B’s is the first and only Cyclone Fanatic sponsor to make an appearance in the ad campaigns throughout the game.  That has to be worth something Fanatics.

2:33 – Another “Floyd-ism” on defense.  Put in a seldom used reserve—David Hickman—to foul Ostertag (a horrible free throw shooter) away from the ball twice in about 15 seconds and put him on the line shooting one-and-one.  “Hack-a-‘Tag” fails and he makes both free throws, 39-37 ISU.

1:17 – Scott Thornley (official) impressively combines two of my biggest pet peeves with referees in making a horrible call.  First, he was the ref furthest from the point of action.  Second, he used his x-ray vision to see through no fewer than three players as he calls Hurl Beechum for a double dribble.  Beechum was clearly fouled and never even completed the “double” action of the dribble which is what makes it a violation in the first place…Tim Floyd = not impressed.

0:15 – Julo comes up with an awkward put-back to make the score 43-41 to the Cyclones’ advantage headed into halftime.

Second Half

Prior to start: Johnny Orr in the house and makes an appearance on my TV!

17:23 – Raef still hasn’t scored.

13:41 – Now for the drawbacks of face-guarding:  a few minutes ago Hoiberg got owned on a backdoor cut because he was overplaying and couldn’t see the ball and now, this.  I wonder if anybody kept a tally while Floyd was coaching in Ames of how many times an ISU player was face-guarding off the ball when the basketball was knocked loose and all but rolled up the back of the defender’s leg?  Of course, this all goes unseen because the defender never had eyes in the back of his head and an opportunity for a steal is tossed out the window.  It’s annoying but in reality it is only a small drawback to the overall effectiveness of the strategy.

11:01 – Raef finally scored capping a 9-0 KU run that gave the Jayhawks the 56-48 lead.

10:36 – Two monumental things happen here.  The first is the most evident symptom of Hilton Magic that has withstood the test of time—the “4-0 run theory”.  It’s a theory my brother and I hold, that no matter how bleak the situation looks if ISU can reel off a 4-0 run the crowd will be sent into a tizzy and produce the “magic” to go with the Hilton.

The “4-0 run theory” still exists to this day.  It is all that is needed to get the Hilton loyalists up and into frenzy, watch for it in the coming season.  Granted, the effects of this haven’t been as successful in recent years but the magic is still there.  It’s just different now.

The second big thing here is that it is the start of what would be 17 straight points for The Mayor.  Hoiberg gets a layup in transition off of a loose ball, providing the second field goal of the 4-0 run.  56-52, KU.

9:17 – Hoiberg executes the “screen-flop”—you know, the act of setting a screen with the sole purpose of falling down at the first hint of contact just to draw a foul— while ISU has the ball and earns two free throws.  Four straight points for ISU by Hoiberg.

8:44 – Whoops.  KU forgot to guard Hoiberg and he drains another three-pointer.  That’s seven straight ISU points by Fred and KU leads 58-57 (in between the last two time intervals Raef managed to get another bucket).

8:30 – Meyer is called for a foul while trying to defend Ostertag.  Arms get tangled and a minor opportunity for a brouhaha presents itself but cooler heads prevail.

On the ensuing in-bounds pass Haase takes advantage of the hostile tension and avenges Hoiberg’s “screen flop” from before and pulls off one of his own. I still don’t like him.  When he does it I hate him more, but when Hoiberg does it I love him more…funny how that works.  Boo’s rain down.

The next inbounds pass produces what is essentially an air-ball from Haase that is rebounded by Ostertag.  On the way up to the rim he is stripped by none other than the smallest dude in the building, Jacy Holloway.

8:15 – Hoiberg draws another foul and shoots one-and-one from the free throw line, making both.  Hoiberg now has nine straight points for ISU and 24 points for the game.  59-58, ISU.

8:04 – Meyer gets whistled for his fourth foul on a cheap call.  He tries his best to get a technical but can’t before Jacy gets in his face.  It would more accurately be characterized by saying Jacy puts his face in Meyer’s chest and looks straight up, but you get the point.  The “face-to-chest maneuver” works and allows Meyer to avoid the technical.

Under 8-minute TV timeout – This must be the first game I have watched since 2003 where there weren’t more Cialis and Viagra commercials than all other commercials combined.

5:51 – Thornley accidentally makes another terrible call.  Derrick Hayes was hammered on an offensive rebound, yet somehow a jump-ball was called when a Jayhawk player never even touched the ball, let alone had dual possession.  The x-ray vision strikes again.

5:15 – Ostertag gets an easy bucket and KU takes the lead, 61-59.  Iowa State takes a 20 second timeout to regroup and we have another celebrity sighting—Kelvin Cato.  He’s in street clothes on the bench.  Could’ve used him this game.

3:48 – It is now Greg Gurley’s turn to execute the “screen flop”.  He does so and makes both free throws.  65-59, KU.

2:53 – Hoiberg’s scoring has been slowed by the box-and-one and he is being shadowed everywhere by Gurley.  On this occasion, though, he draws the foul and makes both free throws and is now 10-10 from the line on the day.  Hoiberg now has 11 straight points for ISU and Kansas leads 65-61.

2:06 – “That’s why you’re all-Big 8, that’s why you’re All-American.  You rise when you need to.”

That’s another three-pointer for Hoiberg who now has 14 straight points for ISU and 29 points on the afternoon.  65-64, KU.

1:07 – Considering the box-and-one is supposed to keep The Mayor from getting the ball, Gurley isn’t doing very well anymore.  A double screen and a buried three-ball later for Hoiberg and that caps his 17 straight points for ISU over a span of nine minutes to match his career high of 32 points for the game.  The Cyclones now lead 67-65.

0:57 – Kansas calls a timeout and we have another celebrity sighting.  Newly hired head football coach Dan McCarney is spotted in the front row sporting some 1990’s style huge glasses with a host of recruits.

On the inbounds pass, Vaughn slips and Holloway knocks the ball away and ISU takes possession.

0:24 – After running down the shot clock with Hoiberg dribbling near mid-court, Fred launches a contested 24 footer—HEAT CHECK!—that rims out.

0:09 – Kansas finally gets a shot off that doesn’t fall and Michalik comes up with the rebound.  After being 1-4 on the day from the free throw line he makes both free throws in the one-and-one situation.  Huge.  69-65, ISU.

0:05 – Haase launches a ridiculous running shot from 30 feet that Hoiberg rebounds and gets rid of as time expires.  Final score:  69-65, ISU.

End of game: As you can imagine, and perhaps remember, the roof was blown off of Hilton at the sound of the final buzzer.  It also produced the memorable video of Tim Floyd shaking Roy Williams’ hand and then turning and running to the locker room, practically beating the officials off the court (also seen leaving the court in a nice suit (probably from Mr. B’s) is our very own Tramp55 (a.k.a. Klay Edwards)).

So there you have it Fanatics, don’t you feel like you were actually there for that roller coaster ride of basketball viewing excitement?  If the reaction to this type of writing is positive I will look into more articles like this in the future dull summer months.