BB: This is an unfamiliar feeling. Iowa State enters the summer with the most unknowns since Hoiberg’s first year. There is no “sure” thing on the roster like a Niang, Morris, Naz or Matt and that’s weird.
CW: Man, that’s a really hard question to answer as it is May 8 and I’m not really an expert on every other roster out there at this point in time. Kansas and West Virginia will be at the top, right? Oklahoma will be a lot better. Texas should be too. I would slot Baylor and TCU ahead of the Cyclones pretty comfortably right now. So that leaves Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Iowa State battling for the last four spots. Honestly, if the league’s coaches voted today, I bet they would put Iowa State eighth or ninth just because of all the unknowns.
BB: Pretty much where I’m at as well, CW. Let’s simplify this. Historically, to make the NCAA Tournament, Iowa State essentially has to finish with an 8-10 record in the Big 12 and have a quality win or two in the non-conference. That’s the barometer and it won’t be easy. Just look at Oklahoma last year. They come off the Final Four with a bunch of young talent and stumbled to a 5-13 record in conference and a sub .500 record overall. Texas had two McDonald’s All-Americans coming in and went 4-14. Point being, it is tough to win with young dudes in a grown man’s conference.
I think Iowa State needs a bunch of guys to surprise. No. 1 on my list is Solomon Young. If he can develop into a 12-14 point, 8 rebound guy, that helps substantially and I believe he has that in him eventually. But I think the Cameron Lard expectations are a bit out of control. Truthfully, I think it may be in Iowa State’s best long term interests to play the young guys a as much as possible and deal with the inevitable hiccups and short-term pain. Is that crazy of me?
This is where I really want to go with this piece though: Let’s talk about style of play. We have already established that it will have to change next year. ‘HoiBall’ will be no more and as a fan base, we have to be ok with that. So looking at this roster on paper, in your opinion, what is Prohm’s best option to somehow sneak into that eight or nine win Big 12 mark, should it happen?
BB: This is what excites me about this group. Having seen Jackson come on the second part of last season and watching Wigginton compete against elite talent in the high school/prep school ranks, those two are going to have the ball a lot. This team is going to shoot significantly more free throws. Jackson and Wigginton are going to go down-hill looking for contact at all times. Wigginton is also a very good rebounder for his position, so expect an uptick on the boards as well. As odd as it sounds, Iowa State’s best chance is to become more of a throwback Floyd/Eustachy type team. Grind out teams on defense and shoot a bunch of free throws. Even Babb and Young can get to the line if they are determined to do so.
This can work and it may not be as pretty as the past few years, but I have a feeling we will appreciate this team in a different way. Don’t get me wrong, Iowa State is not going to turn into a slow down team Wisconsin, but it will be different. It has to be. I’m getting more optimistic by the word, take my kool-aid, Williams!
CW: That’s it. I’m in.
We all want this team to continue it’s historical run, but a drop-off in some capacity is inevitable. That doesn’t lessen the coaching talents or program building ability of Steve Prohm. The years with the most unknowns are often most enjoyable. Can’t wait to find out.