AMES — “That wasn’t us.”
Iowa State’s players, to a man, chose to reiterate those words Monday while describing last Tuesday’s 72-63 CBE Classic loss to Maryland at Kansas City.
Spacing, shooting, defense, rebounding, decision-making — you name it, all aspects went awry for the No. 20 Cyclones, who seek to recover their identity in today’s 7 p.m. matchup with Lamar at Hilton Coliseum.
“We were just too complacent and comfortable,” said ISU forward Georges Niang, who scored 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting in the loss. “I think guys really forgot how much hard work it was to be how good we were last year and then with all these expectations for this year, it’s going to be even harder. So we’ve really got to put our hard cap on get back to work and get back to the basics.”
“Just everything,” Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Getting back to all the little things that you work in preseason and trying to go out and execute both offensively and defensively. We just talked a lot about getting back to who we are as a group and I really thought we got away from that as far as going out and playing as team and trusting each other, again, on both ends of the floor. And that’s what you have to have. You have to have that trust. All five guys have to be involved in that and when you do that you have a chance to win.”
ISU shot its second-lowest percentage in the Hoiberg era against the Terrapins, knocking down just 29.7 percent of its attempts.
The Cyclones (3-1) also managed just eight assists — and missed nine shots in a row to start the second half.
“You just start to press,” Hoiberg said. “We didn’t play a very good first half and we’re down three. That’s the one thing I said we’ve got to take positive out of the first half, we couldn’t go out and play worse and we’re only down three points. I was wrong. We could play worse and we did play worse. … It wasn’t just difficult shots we were missing. We were missing shots at the rim. We’re missing layups. We’re missing wide-open 3s. Then, again, when you start to take shots that are out of character for your team, you know you’re pressing a little bit.”
So back to basics they went, for what Niang termed some of the best practices of the season.
“Guys are responding, playing well,” he said. “I think we’re just getting back to playing unselfish basketball. Eight assists isn’t us. That’s not how we play. I feel like we’ve got our tempo back.”
It’s all about the pace, which is typically a strong suit for ISU.
“I feel like we didn’t execute our transition break,” said point guard Monte Morris, who had a season-low two assists. “There were just times where Naz (Long) would take the ball out when he should be in the corner, or I even took the ball out sometimes. It just wasn’t us out there. That’s what we practice for and correct it.”
In other words, watch out Lamar.
The Cardinals (2-4) have lost three of their last four games, but have played just one home game.
Tyran de Lattibeaudiere, a 6-6 senior from Jamaica, has led Lamar in scoring for five straight games.
“It’s a team that was very close with Indiana late in the game on the road,” Hoiberg said. “So we’ve got to come out and get after it. We’ve got to come out and hopefully get out to a great start.”
That means forget last week against now-No. 21 Maryland. That wasn’t them.
“Got to just trust in the offense,” Long said. “Got to be that guy to let the team know, ‘Look, we’ve been winning games last year, this year, through coach Hoiberg’s offense.’ If there’s any guy to trust in the business it’s him. So stay true to the offense, spread the love and we’ll be fine.”