Feb 25, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Marial Shayok (3) shoots against the Oklahoma Sooners at Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Marial Shayok woke up on Monday with a realization.
Iowa State’s senior guard had only six guaranteed games left in his college career. After performing like one of the best players in the Big 12 through the first month of league play, the transfer from Virginia had hit a serious offensive skid in the month of February.
He had not shot better than 50 percent from the field in a game since a Jan. 30 win over West Virginia. Shayok’s field goal percentage entering that game was 51.4 percent. He entered Monday night’s game in Hilton Coliseum against Oklahoma with his field goal percentage sitting below 50 percent following a 2-of-5 shooting effort in a loss on Saturday at TCU.
It was time for Shayok to lock in. So, following Iowa State’s shootaround on Monday, he fired off a text to his head coach.
“I had an epiphany today. That realization kind of woke me up today. I texted Coach today that I’m going to be 100 percent locked in from here on out regardless of how I score or makes or misses,” Shayok said following a 78-61 win over the Sooners in which Shayok scored a game-high 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting. “I’m going to be totally bought in and just try to do my best.”
Shayok was at his best on Monday against the Sooners and that is the level Iowa State will need him at if they have hopes of extending his college career past the five games the team is guaranteed to have left. During Iowa State’s 5-3 stretch in February plus the Jan. 30 win over the Mountaineers, Shayok shot 44.2 percent from the field overall.
He shot 46.5 percent from the field in the first halves of those games, including a 1-of-3 performance on Saturday in Fort Worth. Monday night’s 4-of-6 first-half output was the first time he had shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half of a game since the win over West Virginia.
Following a loss to Baylor last Tuesday, Shayok said the team needed to make a decision on how its season was going to go. Monday night against the Sooners, it looked like Shayok had made his choice.
“I wanted to make sure I have no regret whether we finish in the next six games or five games now or we finish in April. I want to make sure I have no regrets leaving Iowa State,” Shayok said. “I’m going to leave it all out there from now on for sure. Just try to lead this team as far as possible.”
Iowa State’s team leadership was seriously questioned following the losses to Baylor and TCU. It appeared as though a switch was flipped during the second half of the loss to the Horned Frogs, but even then Shayok was not much of a factor offensively.
With a roster as young as Iowa State’s, it is on the shoulders of the team’s seniors to step up and hold some people accountable. The first ones they needed to hold accountable were themselves.
It appears as though Shayok has taken a step in the right direction and, if it continues, that could be what flips the trajectory of Iowa State’s season back upwards.
“I don’t think we did have a sense of urgency in the last few weeks. Now, we have no choice, especially for Zoran (Talley), (Nick Weiler-)Babb and I. This is our last few games of college,” Shayok said. “Hopefully, just try to leave it all out there and hopefully the team does the same.”