Jan 21, 2019; Lawrence, KS, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Talen Horton-Tucker (11) dribbles the ball against Kansas Jayhawks guard Marcus Garrett (0) in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
With more than a third of conference play behind us, resident hoop heads Jared Stansbury and Kirk Haaland have built up quite a few thoughts on Iowa State and Big 12 basketball. Take a peek inside their inbox for their discussion following the Cyclones’ loss to Kansas on Monday.
Stanz (Tuesday, 8:58 A.M.): I’m rolling on like two hours of sleep right now so I’m just going to let you tell me where you want to start with this. Meanwhile, I’ll be trying to get the rest of the dull ringing out of my ears and pretending the wave of sound after Dedric Lawson ripped my heart out isn’t going to haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life.
Haaland (Tuesday, 9:10 A.M.): Man, that Lawson shot… It’s hard to be mad when that guy takes that shot when you need a stop but then it went in and hope really started to dwindle. The guy was 6-29 from the 3-point line coming into the game last night and there was no bigger shot than that last dagger. He was the difference and I don’t feel like Iowa State did a terrible job on him. They most often won the position battle on the block but the guy made some tough shots. Going into the game I was actually more concerned with getting scorched from the 3-point line from Lawson double teams than having him hit shots like that. As a post defender, there isn’t much else that you can do in those situations?
Lawson also crushed Iowa State on the offensive glass but that was mostly due to the penetration that was allowed, which absolutely cannot happen with Iowa State switches so much on the perimeter. Before the game, I didn’t have Marcus Garrett as the offensive difference maker for Kansas, but outside of Dedric Lawson, he was the Jayhawks player of the game. But Garrett and Devon Dotson too often were able to get an angle and get to the rack. That was when the Cam Lard foul trouble really was felt. Personally, I know he took some flack from the fans last night but I have a difficult time being too hard on him when he was so marred with foul trouble, and a couple of them were pretty light while trying to just absorb contact from the offensive player.
Stanz (Tuesday, 9:34 A.M.): Last night is an example of Lawson just being a flat-out stud. He was in his bag the entire night with his back to the basket regardless of what Iowa State did defensively. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to an All-American because he sure as hell looked like one. Even some of the post moves he was hitting on were after he’d been pushed away from the basket then was shooting a hook shot from further out than you’d generally want. Didn’t matter.
The dribble penetration thing is troubling to me because I think we really started seeing this manifest in the Tech game last week. Figuring out a way to contain teams off the bounce absolutely needs to be cleaned up or it could mean serious trouble down the road. My thing with last night was the number of times Kansas players (most specifically Garrett) were able to get steam going into a defender towards the rim.
I think that is probably largely due to the way Iowa State went under screens the entire night and once KU just spaced them out it allowed their guards to play all downhill all the time. I’m not sure what the fix is there though just because they still aren’t a great shooting team so it isn’t worth adjusting to fighting over screens. Were you surprised Prohm and the staff didn’t try to switch more and left guys on an island as much as they did?
Haaland (Tuesday, 9:54 A.M.): My best guesses for giving up driving angles is a bit of a lack of attentiveness because Kansas really only has one guard to concern with beyond the 3-point line and I agree with you that they weren’t stepping up to put some pressure and cut off the driving lanes. Typically against a non-shooter, you want the defender to back off and force the jump shot, but sometimes if you do that during a weave type action and are just slightly out of position, a driving lane is created. Another issue off of the penetration is that from memory it seems like the weak side defenders didn’t clog up the middle as much as they could have. That leaves you open to some 3-point looks but with this Kansas team, you are likely better off giving Grimes, Dotson, Garrett, or Agbaji those looks instead of a path to the rim and the post defender being forced to help. In the end, the guards just need to beat the ball handler to the spot and cut off the drive and make them change direction or idea entirely.
The one major positive from last night is that it is very evident these teams are very much on the same playing field and guys like Tyrese Haliburton and Talen Horton-Tucker played the way they did in that environment and on that stage. That said, the bulk of the offensive load this year has been carried by Marial Shayok and he, yet again, played really well last night. He has had some turnover issues in conference play but even considering that he has been by far the most consistent offensive force for the Cyclones.
I know there is a lot of teeth gnashing over Lindell Wigginton‘s performance last night and while he didn’t play great and struggled to put the ball in the hoop, I also don’t think he took many bad shots. The fastbreak turnover late was critical and he struggled to get to the rim cleanly on a couple of drives that resulted in bad shots or turnovers, but by and large, he has reintegrated himself adequately in conference play. I at least think his head has been in the right spot.
Aside from that, I know a guy logging lineup data in conference games and the starting four guards in 186 possessions are scoring 0.972 points per possession and allowing 0.853PPPp for a net efficiency of 0.119. When you sub Wigginton in for Horton-Tucker, that four-guard lineup has played 186 possessions and is scoring 1.229 PPP and allowing 1.0PPP for a net of .210. So, perhaps he hasn’t been that bad on the whole?
Stanz (Tuesday, 11:37 A.M.): You and your damn numbers bringing all of us irrational simpletons back to Earth. I think there is no doubt the offense has a better flow when Lindell is in the game as the ball has less of a tendency to stick. I love THT’s game, but some of the shots he takes are as forced as it gets.
That said, he’ll have nights when some of those shots go in as they did in Lawrence. But, you saw what can happen after those shots on the lob to Lagerald Vick that gave Kansas the lead and signaled the true “Oh sh*t it’s happening” moment when you knew the boulder was rolling downhill at full steam.
My biggest concern with Lindell has just been his shot-making right now. He has gotten a lot of good looks, including two nearly wide open ones in the first half last night, but there just seems to be something slightly off with his jump shot. Now, I’m not a shot coach so it would be hard for me to truly judge it, but so many of them look good right until they get near the rim then they barely miss.
Do you think this is an anomaly and he’ll get back to his shooting levels from last season or do you think this is the unfortunate new norm?
Haaland (Tuesday, 11:51 A.M.): That is the biggest question right now; is the anomaly with Lindell’s shooting this year or was it last year? I honestly don’t think we know but my hope is that at worst, it’s somewhere in the middle. He made 40 percent last season and is sitting at 32 percent right now (15-47) if he were hitting on 40 percent again this year that would only be 3.8 more makes, so practically speaking there isn’t a huge chasm between last year and this year. But I agree with the shot making aspect but I think the best explanation for the dip in his 2-point percentage is that he just isn’t getting all the way to the rim on many of his attempts (just 17 percent of his shots are “at the rim” per hoop-math.com, the lowest among key ISU contributors).
In the big picture, the offense is more than fine. The main rut they find themselves in is when shots aren’t falling from the perimeter and not passing up a good look to get a great look. Despite this team shooting a very respectable 36 percent from the 3-point line, they don’t have a Matt Thomas, Tyrus McGee, or Jake Sullivan type that the opponents absolutely cannot leave open. Shayok, Nick Weiler-Babb, and Haliburton are all near or above the 40 percent mark but they just aren’t that consistent and lethal threat with a high volume of attempts.
During the second half drought at Kansas, almost all of the 3-point looks they took were acceptable but there’s a fine line when your team really needs a bucket of knowing if the best shot is a good 3-point look or if a better look on the interior can be manufactured.
Long story short, this is still a really good team that can do a lot of damage. They aren’t out of the Big 12 race with the loss but a win would have been a gigantic bonus to the cause. But, if they want to contend they have to win out at home and steal a few more on the road. I think 13-5 may get a share of the crown, how do you feel about how they’re playing overall and projecting that through the rest of the conference season?
Stanz (Wednesday, 10:00 A.M.): Holy crap, I feel like I just time traveled. Lack of sleep after Monday night had me down for the count so I started watching Texas Tech/Kansas State then all of a sudden I woke up and it was Wednesday.
Speaking of Tech/K-State, who would have thought three weeks ago the two teams we expected to be at the top of the league would be there through seven games? Kansas State felt like the best chance at a challenger to Kansas during the offseason, but then they struggled mightily during non-conference play and dropped their first two Big 12 games.
Now, they’ve won five games in a row, Tech has lost three straight and Kansas is right back in the freaking driver’s seat. Unbelievable.
This just further drives into my mind how crazy this league can be and how what you and I talked about here will probably be irrelevant in a week. That said, I agree with your thought on 13-5 getting at least a share of the league title.
Can the Cyclones get to that mark? They certainly could if they can string together a few nights of playing well. Either way, the race to the finish is going to be a lot of fun and I’d imagine it will be a log jam to the very end.