Monday Musings: Catching up after an eggnog binge

There is a running joke on this website that whenever I take any sort of a “vacation,” stuff that rhymes with “spit” hits the fan. Starting on Dec. 26 (Iowa State played on Christmas night this year), my goal was to not even look at until next Thursday, Jan. 2.

That lasted a day and a half.

I love you all (or something like that) too much to be gone for that long. I’m back baby! There is just too much going on to sit on my couch watching Seinfeld re-runs in my underwear while munching on Doritos and drinking Busch Light (every man’s dream).

I do have an opinion or two about some recent happenings so here is a quick hit, catch-up version of Musings. We will have a lot more here on CF later on today, as Fred Hoiberg will meet the media at noon in preparation for Tuesday night’s final non-conference game of the season against Northern Illinois.

Also, the latest AP and USA TODAY polls will be released later today. It is possible that Iowa State will crack the top 10. We will keep you updated. 

On K.J. Bluford…

Yesterday, Iowa State announced that junior guard K.J. Bluford is leaving the program. I guess that means we won’t ever hear Fred Hoiberg tell the story about the night he offered Bluford ever again. You know the one that I am talking about…

“I saw him put up 25 shots! He missed 21 of them, but any guy who can put up that many shots in a game is a guy who can play for me!”

It went something like that.

Bluford had only seen the floor in seven of 11 games this season. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (5-for-18 from 3-point range) when he did play either. For a guy whose only purpose in the program is to make threes, that was a problem and likely led to so much time on the pine. 

Still, I think that Bluford had more to offer than what Iowa State fans saw of him but at the same time, he was clearly well behind freshmen in Hoiberg’s pecking order.

It is one of those “too bad” situations but unless some sort of injury plague were to hit this team (knocking on wood), Bluford’s departure shouldn’t mean anything more than opening up another scholarship for next season.

On Matt Thomas’ struggles…

Fans always have to have something to complain about. Throughout Iowa State’s unanticipated and refreshing 11-0 start, true freshman Matt Thomas has been that something. Thomas, who has made 35 percent of his 3-point attempts so far this season, did not hit stride in Hawaii (like many people were hoping for) and continues to be the big “what if” piece of Iowa State’s 2013-14 puzzle.

What if he finally plays like the guy who Fred Hoiberg once called the best shooter in college basketball’s class of 2014?

I feel like with the rest of the Cyclones, you pretty much know what you are going to get.

The “big four” (DeAndre Kane, Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue) is legit. It might be the best one through four combination of players (Oklahoma State and Kansas will argue this) in the Big 12. 

I think that even with Iowa State’s sixth-man, Naz Long, there is an expectation of what he should bring to the table on a consistent basis. Long did not play well in Hawaii but has produced in every game other than that this season. I have yet to lose confidence in Naz.

Despite the 11-0 record, I would label Iowa State as a “good” team at this point in the season. If Thomas can come along and be more of a threat, this could be a “great” team. I suspect that it is only a matter of time until he does that. Hopefully it is sooner rather than later. 

On Tommy Mister…

Full disclosure – I have not had time to dig very deep into Tommy Mister’s reported de-commitment from Iowa State late last week. Because of that fact, I don’t want to spend a ton of time speculating but I do want to point one thing out. This situation reminds me a lot of Nigel Tribune’s recruitment a year ago. Remember that Tribune, who started multiple games at corner for Iowa State as a true freshman, once de-committed only to surprisingly sign with Iowa State in February.

These situations are different in the sense that right now, Mister has no idea who his position coach and offensive coordinator will be. From that perspective, this de-commitment makes sense. But it also makes sense to relax and see how this thing plays out. 

Mister was supposed to officially visit Iowa State on Jan. 24. Rhoads will eventually finish out his staff. Perhaps Mister will love the hires, decide to visit and come back around? 

Mister would be one of the headliners in Iowa State’s 2014 class should he choose to play ball in Ames. You’ve got to believe that once recruiting opens back up in January, he is one of the first visits that Paul Rhoads will make.

This truly is a “stay tuned” type of story, as is the recruiting process of every high school athlete.

Two randoms…

*** Props to CycloneML for finding this link and posting it on our forum yesterday. As we all suspected at the time, Paul Rhoads indeed was contacted by Barry Alvarez last year in regards to the Wisconsin job. He was not offered the position though. 

*** On Sunday, the Iowa State women’s basketball team beat William & Mary to improve to 11-0 on the season. I thought that Ian Smith wrote a nice piece on Saturday about how the Cyclones should be taken seriously to win the Big 12 this season.