Not much can be taken away from what we saw take place in Hilton Coliseum on Monday.
Iowa State and Oklahoma State were both shorthanded. The Cyclones played without four starters and with only six scholarship guys. The Cowboys played without star freshman and future NBA lottery pick Cade Cunningham.
Oklahoma State won 81-60.
In Iowa State’s return to the floor after a two-plus week pause due to a COVID-19 protocols, Steve Prohm’s team showed fight early, but proved to be outmanned in the long run.
None of us what we saw in this game comes off a surprise. There isn’t much to take away from this one.
“The games are games once you get in there. Whether we had eight guys. You gotta ask for more from everybody to step up, from myself to the eighth man. The game of basketball is great,” Prohm said. “This is the landscape we’re in. You’ve got to adjust and we’ve got to be able to handle adversity. We’ve got to continue to encourage one another, we can get through this.”
The 10th-place in the Big 12 Cyclones likely would have been outmanned in this game even if both teams had been at full strength, but that was especially the case once it was announced starters Solomon Young, Javan Johnson, Tre Jackson and Jalen Coleman-Lands all would not be available due to the program’s health and safety protocols.
The program has not disclosed which, if any, of those guys were among the program’s positive tests for the virus or if they were just caught in the contact tracing web. Their status remains unclear for Saturday’s game in Starkville against Mississippi State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Iowa State was paced in this game against Oklahoma State by Rasir Bolton, who scored 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field, and Tyler Harris, who added 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting.
Both players noted postgame that this will rank among the weirdest basketball games they’ve ever played in.
“Yeah,” Bolton said. “This whole year just seems strange.”
It is certainly hard for anyone to argue that point.
Not many people would have predicted Iowa State would be forced into playing primarily zone on defense, using a 6-foot-6 true freshman forward to protect the rim or walk-on Nate Jenkins would play nearly 20 minutes in a conference game for this year’s Cyclone team at this point a year ago.
Hardly any of what has happened to this program — or the entire world for that matter — could have been predicted at this time a year ago.
It is hard to take much away from any of the past 10 months since Iowa State men’s basketball played in one of the last sporting events prior to COVID-19’s grip on the globe.
It is especially hard to take anything away from Monday night. This was the night when the COVID-19 pandemic finally came to roost inside an Iowa State program from a public perspective.
“I don’t know how to explain it, I mean, I don’t know if you can really put a put an X, an absolute on this virus,” Prohm said when asked if he knew how the virus had made its way inside the program. “I think we can’t put absolutes on it. If we could, we’d all manage it a little bit better. I think we’ve done a phenomenal job managing it. Our training staff and doctors have been incredible. We’ve been great with this, and then this last week man we’ve had a tough patch. We’ve got to get through it collectively as a group. You know, (Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach) Bruce Arians said it best, man, we got everybody that’s in this group. We have all got to care for each other and love each other and be accountable to one another. But, I’m not in a position to speak really A, B and C about COVID.”
The Cyclones will play another game on Saturday. None of us know at this point to what level of strength they’ll be at.
One thing that should be stated is this team needs to play. These guys need to be on the basketball floor as much as they possibly can. Not as much for wins and losses as just to get valuable reps and opportunities to compete.
That was what they got on Monday at Hilton Coliseum.
I suppose there was something to take away after all.
“We were ready to play,” Prohm said. “We’ve been out for a couple weeks now so we were ready to play. Unfortunately, we only had eight guys total. Just an unfortunate situation but I guess we all understand the landscape, we’re dealing with right now. And so we got to push through and just continue to figure out the best way to manage this to get us back to 100%.”