By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
DES MOINES – It was one of those nights.
Shots didn’t fall. Defense was subpar. Drake showed up itching to play a basketball game vs. an in-state rival. The Cyclones physically arrived in Des Moines, but that’s about it.
There isn’t much to be optimistic about regarding Iowa State’s 74-65 loss at Drake on Tuesday evening.
It looked like a stinker. It smelled like a stinker. It was a stinker.
"We’re not as good as we think we are. That’s for sure," said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg after the game.
Preseason projections don’t always mean much, but when you consider that Drake was picked by every publication (that I’ve seen) in America to finish in the bottom half of the Missouri Valley Conference this season, the above quote holds a lot of truth to it.
Want some good news? It was only one game. To the guy who tweeted at me that he is going to sell his season tickets for the rest of the year, you’re overreacting.
Iowa State still has 29 games left on its 2011-12 regular season schedule. This is a marathon. Not a sprint. Since we’re on that analogy, Iowa State might have just tweaked its ankle in the first mile of that race, but the ankle is far from broken.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Royce White – Last week’s Big 12 Newcomer of the Week had another big game, scoring 21 points and ripping down 14 rebounds. White was two rebounds away from a double-double at halftime. However, his 3-for-8 mark from the free throw line and five turnovers showed a lack of polish that will hopefully clear up with experience. White combination of size and skill was an impossible matchup for Drake. I have a feeling that if these two teams were to meet up again later this year, getting White the ball inside the paint would be even more of a priority for Fred Hoiberg. Having said that, White did take 19 shots on the night, six more than Chris Allen, who was second on the team with 13 attempts.
It’s early – Being upset in mid-November on the road in college basketball isn’t the end of the world. It happens to good teams all of the time. But the problem is, we still don’t know if this Iowa State squad is a good basketball team or not.
"Team" is the key word here.
To anyone who watched that game, it was clear that Drake was much more of a unit than Iowa State currently is. That should be the case too. After all, it was only game two for this group of Cyclones that until last Saturday, hadn’t played a meaningful minute of ball together since being patched together in the offseason.
Early season growing pains were to be expected.
But even I have to admit that I never thought these hiccups would equal a loss to pretty much the same Drake team that Iowa State embarrassed by 48 points just a season ago.
Postgame attitude – "Put this one on me."
That was the message that Fred Hoiberg conveyed to the media multiple times during his postgame press conference.
"I didn’t feel like our practices were great the last two days and that’s on me as a coach. I can promise you that I am going to have these guys ready."
From Hoiberg, to Royce White, to Chris Allen and other members of the program who I spoke to after the game, I got the feeling that this loss really humbled the Cyclones.
Maybe the Cyclones will learn from this adversity?
Tyrus McGee – I love what Tyrus McGee brings to this program as a sixth-man. The junior came off the bench and went 3-for-3 from 3-point range while scoring 10 points in 25 minutes of play. He was constantly a spark when Iowa State’s struggling offense needed it, which was great until the Cyclones couldn’t seem to get a stop on defense, which leads us to…
Defense – It isn’t like Drake came out of the gates and bombarded Iowa State with fantastic 3-point shooting. After all, the Bulldogs were 6-of-18 from 3-point range on the night. It’s just that while the Cyclones missed everything from bunnies to free throws to 3-point shots and more, Iowa State’s poor defensive effort gave Drake one easy shot after another in the second half.
“I thought that our ball screen defense was awful," said Hoiberg. "We worked all week on a game plan for these guys. We just didn’t go out and execute it."
Drake shot 59.3 percent from the field in the second half.
Drake’s best player, Rayvonte Rice, went 7-for-13 for the night and according to Hoiberg, "exposed" the Cyclones.
"He got around our guys and hit a couple of floaters," said Hoiberg. "They got some key offensive rebounds. It was a bad effort in all areas for us tonight.”
Drake’s Ben Simon led the Bulldogs with 24 points.
Leadership – Maybe it is there, but I’m just not seeing it. Maybe after a loss like this, somebody, anybody, will step up in practice on Thursday to rally the troops.
Shooting – Iowa State couldn’t throw a golf ball into a farm pond on Tuesday night.
Consider the following stats:
– Melvin Ejim went 1-for-7 from the field.
– Chris Allen was 0-for-7 from 3-point range.
– The Cyclones were 17-for-27 on free throw attempts.
Every team in America is going to have these types of nights. But this Cyclone squad full of slingers will have games where it looks like the best shooting team in America too. That’s basketball.
Honorable Mention: Point guard play (obviously), Melvin Ejim, Scott Christopherson’s 3-pointer made streak coming to an end and depth.