Basketball

CHRISTOPHERSON: What went wrong in Norman?

Oklahoma Sooners forward Tanner Groves (35) celebrates beside Iowa State Cyclones forward George Conditt IV (4) during a men’s college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Iowa State Cyclones at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. Oklahoma won 79-66.

Saturday, we saw what we were looking for.

For thirty minutes, this team demonstrated it could go on the road in the Big 12 and win.

The Cyclones offense had cut down on turnovers, Tyrese Hunter was breaking out, and the shot-making was there.

Then, with ten minutes to play it all came unraveled. I said before the game that to win on the road you cannot lose sight of who you are.

Ball pressure, relentless pursuit on the glass, and ball toughness have been the bedrock of TJ’s game plan since he began working with this team in June.

In the final quarter of the Oklahoma game, the ball pressure simply was not where it needed to be.

This allowed the Sooners to find a comfort zone on their way to 61 percent shooting from the field and 58 percent from the three-point line.

To boot, they gave up 20 points in the paint in the last 9 minutes and 17 seconds. Oklahoma also boasted a distinct rebounding advantage, beating the Cyclones by 9, with Iowa State finding only two offensive rebounds in the game. 

The Cyclones’ recipe for victory is simple and straightforward.

Win the turnover and rebounding battle.

As TJ and his team prepare for Tuesday night they must get back to their roots.

On a positive note, Saturday we started to see outside shots fall.

Izaiah had it rolling early, Hunter and Jackson also found their stroke in that game.

But as shots started to fall, this team’s defensive pressure and grit started to falter.

The Cyclones need to make enough shots to keep opposing defenses honest, but not at the expense of losing sight of where their victories will come from.

This is an attacking team who is at its best when they relentlessly swarm opposing offenses with ball pressure, pursue loose balls and rebounds with vigor, and play downhill with an emphasis on paint touches offensively. 

Through three games, there is no reason to lose any belief in this team.

The Big 12 schedule is going to challenge every team in the league.

The Cyclones are in the middle of their toughest six-game stretch of the season.

Next up is the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence on Tuesday night.

Consider this a “get back” opportunity for Iowa State.

If the Cyclones can recapture their defensive prowess, they have demonstrated all year and impose their will on the glass and 50/50 balls, there is no reason to believe this team cannot go into Lawrence and give the Jayhawks all they can handle.

However, if they approach this game as a shooting contest, I fear it will be a long night for Iowa State. We have talked about culture all year; we are now going to find out just what this team is made of.

S

Scott Christopherson

administrator

Scott played 3 seasons for the Iowa State Cyclones, scoring over 1,000 points and finishing third-team all-conference as a senior while helping lead the Cyclones to the NCAA tournament. In 2012 he graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Finance and currently works in Indirect Lending for BMO Harris Bank and is also pursuing his MBA at St. Thomas University. Scott is passionate about leadership, teaching, and business. When he isn't working, Scott can be found spending time with his wife Kelly and their twin boys, Noah and Isaiah.

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