Williams/Blum Friday Debate: 1-13 Edition

By Chris Williams and Brent Blum of CycloneFanatic.comFollow the guys on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams and @BrentBlum

We’re trying something new here at Every Friday from here on out during the college basketball season, our Chris Williams and Brent Blum will go back and forth on a variety of Iowa State and Big 12 related topics. Here’s the duo’s first installment.

Williams: Okay Blum. Rebounding and free throw shooting killed Iowa State on Wednesday night vs. Missouri. In addition to that, the Cyclones allowed the size lacking Tigers to score 40 points in the paint! What do you think is going through Kansas big man Thomas Robinson’s head right now leading up to Saturday?

Blum: Mr. Robinson has to have the same feeling that you had back in ’06 during the historic beer-pong streak at Chasers in Ames — oozing with confidence. By the way, is Chasers still open? I spent many a quarter at that establishment back in my youth. Robinson is off to a ridiculous year. In the Tech game Wednesday, he scored 19 points in 19 minutes. He’s averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds over the last four games and he is now making jump-shots at a high rate. He scares me. What do you do if you’re Fred Hoiberg — put Royce on Robinson and risk getting him in foul trouble? Or try someone like Gibson (if healthy) or Ejim who have the potential to be eaten alive? Or do you bring in Railey to intimidate him Charles Oakley-style? (Kidding…kind of.) My next question for you, is it possible KU has a little look-ahead-itis to their BIG Monday match-up with Baylor? That may be beneficial.

Williams: Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories Mr. Blum. Other than the day that I married my wife, that cold, fateful February night at Chasers when “The Streak” went down might have been the best day of my life. Here’s a shout out to my partner on that historic evening, the one and only Jason Clemen. I couldn’t have done it without you bro. And yes, I believe that Chasers is still going strong. We should stop in and drop a couple of quarters one of these fine Friday afternoons.

Onto Thomas Robinson. Yes. The man frightens me as well. I really don’t think that Iowa State can man up on him. I think that you’ll see whichever big man that is in the game, opposite of Royce on Robinson with a trap coming along the way. You can’t put Royce White on him. Just look at the difference in Iowa State with Royce in the game compared to without on Wednesday night at Missouri. He’s too valuable. In fact, take that ridiculous early charge that was called on Royce away and Wednesday game might have had a different feel to it, had he not been in significant foul trouble so early on.

I think that you might be onto something with Jordan Railey. Use the big man for fouls. We saw Iowa State do this quite a bit last year. It wouldn’t surprise me if it happens again on Saturday.

To wrap up the Missouri loss, on one hand, it’s encouraging that little things like free throws kept Iowa State from beating a top 10 team on Wednesday night. Free throws and to some extent, rebounding are fixable flaws. At the same time, I fear that in late-February/early March that could be a game that really comes back to haunt the Clones.

What are your parting thoughts on the Missouri game? Any bold predictions moving onto the Phog?

Blum: Agree, come March 1, I have a feeling we all may look back on the first Missouri game as one that got away. It would have been the first win in Hilton against a top 10 team since 2001. But there are still a plethora of opportunities to make that one up. First the positives from the game: 1. It was nice to see a little fire from Anthony Booker. If he can bring energy without fouling like he did at times in the first half, and perhaps, sneak in some rebounds, he can alter Iowa State’s complexion on defense. 2. Scott Christoperson’s ability to revamp his game and become a threat off the bounce is really impressive. Fifty percent of his shots are still from deep, but he has become a threat to drive and get to the line. 3. Chris Babb’s defense has been awesome. He has held Khris Middleton and Marcus Denmon way below their averages. Denmon only got 5 shots off against the length of Babb. If Iowa State wins that game, he would have been THE story.

But aside from the free throw and rebound concerns, post defense continues to be an intermittent problem. Royce is so concerned about fouling (Paul Janssen can do that to a guy) that he allows lots of easy catches inside. The Cyclones allowed Texas’ Chapman to score a career high 19 points on just nine shots and late in the Mizzou game when they needed stops, Ricardo Ratliffe got two easy looks for lay-ups. But like the free-throws and rebounding, this can be cleaned up.

Random final thought on the Mizzou game: How many times do you think those halftime dunking, trampoline ‘fellas get near a catastrophic injury? And second part of that, whatever happened to SlamBall? (YouTube it folks.) That thing had some potential. If sporting “events” like darts, bowling, and poker are still on the sports networks than dammit, people jumping off trampolines and dunking on each other, while risking significant injury needs to be on as well.

Back to Kansas. It’s an uphill battle at the Phog. KU has lost two games there in the last seven years. That is just silly. And Iowa State is 0 for their last 12 against the Jayhawks. Here’s my prediction: the Cyclones will have to hit 13 or more threes to have a chance to win. I also read where KU is honoring their 2002 Final Four team at the game Saturday, yet Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison and Drew Gooden all won’t be in attendance, neither will Roy Williams. How can you honor a team when your 3 best players and coach off said team aren’t going to be there? Oh well, I’m sure Todd Kappelmann will get a rousing ovation.

Pretty clear that Kansas, Baylor and Missouri are in a separate class in the conference at the moment?

Williams: I don’t think that I’d lump Missouri in with Baylor and Kansas.  Missouri is good, no doubt. Plus, the Tigers are a guard-oriented team with a ton of seniors. That’s always a good thing in college basketball. But at the same time, Missouri’s lack of depth has to catch up with them at some point right? They are an injury away from being in some serious trouble. Hence why I thought Royce White getting two fouls in the first four minutes of Wednesday night’s game was such a big deal.

As far as your point on Anthony Booker goes, I agree. But where was he in the second half of that game? Hoiberg called it a “matchup thing” after the game. Booker brought so much to the table in the first half, I didn’t really understand that but I’ll give the Mayor the benefit of doubt.

I agree with you about Saturday’s road trip to Lawrence. There’s no doubt that the Clones will have to be hot. Time for a pick Blum? I’ll take the Jayhawks by around 10. Where are you at on this one?

Also, I’m looking ahead to the weekend’s Big 12 schedule. What a terrible slate of games! Here’s what’s on tap.

Texas @ Missouri
Kansas State @ Oklahoma
Texas Tech @ Texas A&M
Oklahoma State @ Baylor

One can only imagine that Texas A&M can win a home game against Texas Tech right?

Blum: I can’t wait to see Baylor match up with Missouri. It will be like when Elton John and Eminem collaborated at the Grammy’s in 2001. Fascinating, stark contrasts. But in general, I do agree that Baylor and Kansas are probably a notch above due to depth concerns. Cyclone Alley favorite Kim English was able to hang with Melvin Ejim, but at 6-foot-4, most teams will be able to run another big dude at English and get them in all sorts of trouble.

As for Booker’s lack of minutes, I  understand where Hoiberg was coming from. There is no way Book could chase around any of those guards. And you needed White out there to orchestrate and there was no way RW could stay with one of the Mini-Tigers with his foul issues. It was unfortunate for Booker, because he had an auspicious 1st half, but it makes sense.

I will take KU by 8. Everybody talks about Robinson, but what sets KU apart from most is their ability to guard. There are rarely any easy shots against these guys. Bill Self does a great job of shutting you down and getting you out of your offense. But this team did lose to an average Davidson squad in Kansas City, so they may be prone for a lackluster effort. And they don’t shoot the three ball especially well, which should give Cyclone fans some hope.

You are right, the rest of the games are very average. Will be curious to see if Texas can give Mizzou a game, and Oklahoma is due to shoot the ball with some consistency (they can’t hit water if they fell out of a boat at the moment). If Texas A&M doesn’t win at home against Tech, they should pick up and move to the SEC Sunday, at least they could compete with South Carolina and Auburn. Baylor shouldn’t have any problem with Okie State, but assuming anything with them is a roll of the dice. They still have a lot of crazy girl tendencies. But Pierre Jackson is definitely in the Big 12 Player of the Year convo. Can you believe we’re closer to Selection Sunday than we are to the first game of the year? Gonna get nutty!

Williams: Well played with the Eminem/Elton John reference. Wasn’t that the same night that Eminem physically attacked Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog? Good stuff.

It’s time for picks. We made picks on last week’s call-in show. You went 5-0 (nice pick on the Clones over A&M) while I went 4-1 on the day.

This Saturday, I like Kansas over Iowa State (you can read more about this in my preview). Baylor won’t have any problems with Oklahoma State, nor will Missouri with Texas in my opinion.

I’ve got to pick an upset somewhere right?

Give me the Sooners to win their first Big 12 game under Lon Kruger over Kansas State in Norman. You know me Blum. I LOVE me some Lon Kruger.

Blum…Your picks please…

Blum:Your fascination with Lon Kruger is almost Tad Boyle esque! (By the way Boyle’s Buffs are 3-0 and atop the Pac-12 as I write this. This tells me two things: 1. Boyle is legitimately a good coach to continue to win games despite not having Alec Burks or Cory Higgins. 2. The Pac-12 is an abomination of a basketball conference this year. Right now, they’d be fortunate to get 2 teams in the dance. It’s gross).

Onto the picks:

Kansas 77 Iowa State 69
Baylor 70 Oklahoma State 55
Missouri 73 Texas 61
K-State 62 Oklahoma 58

Frank Martin still scares me, I’m afraid if I pick against them, bad things will happen to me. He has to know people!

And bonus pick: Folding Chair 1 Fran McCaffery 0. The chair gets revenge.

Williams: So wait a minute Blum…Are you actually giving me some credit for my hardline takes on Tad Boyle’s skills last year? I still can’t believe that Boyle’s Buffs got jobbed out of the NCAA Tournament like they did last season. And yes, they are 3-0 and very well might win the ridiculously bad Pac-12.

I like your picks. Kansas State is better than Oklahoma but something weird has to happen this weekend right?

Thanks for your time Blum. We’ll do this again next week.

Blum:Let’s not get too crazy with Boyle. His club did lose to Wyoming by double digits a couple weeks back! But yes they got jobbed big-time last year and your premonition was correct, he is a very good coach.

If something odd were to happen in the Big 12, the OU-KSU would be the one to watch.

It’s been real Williams! Hope to see everyone out at the Cyclone-Texas A&M women’s game Saturday, Bill Fennelly’s squad could use some support!