This week I took calls for questions on Twitter and the forums. Let’s empty out the mailbag and answer some of the best ones I got:
Ted Flint on Twitter: Whose face ends up on the Choo Choo Motherf*cker train this year?
The obvious answer to this is new starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers. It won’t have quite the same effect that it did at those times when Breece Hall would really get going downhill and start causing trouble for opposing teams, but it would certainly hit when Dekkers makes a high-level throw or is clearly locked into what the offense is trying to execute.
Xavier Hutchinson would be a solid option as well. He’s in for a monster senior season in cardinal and gold and could put up elite-level numbers if the rest of the receiver room progresses slower than expected.
Lee on Twitter: You & Scott each pick a top 5 of your favorite, (not necessarily best/most efficient) individual offensive moves in ISU b-ball last 10 yrs, like:
– Tyrus off a curl
– Jeff Beverly short corner
– Shayok stepback
– Niang drive from key
– Monte floater
– IZB long 2 from iso
I’m not going to make Scott make a list, but here’s mine:
1. Georges Niang’s drive from the top of the key: The footwork, the myriad of different finishing moves once he got downhill, the touch around the rim, the ability to pass out of every move he made. It will be hard for a Cyclone to ever match the level Georges played on a consistent basis in my mind.
2. Marial Shayok’s step-back: His jumper to beat Kansas State at the 2019 Big 12 Tournament was one of the most difficult clutch shots I’ve ever seen live. He was one of the best pure scorers Iowa State has had in recent memory. If he got that step-back going back to his right, it was bottoms nearly every time.
3. Monte Morris’s floater: Not many players I’ve seen at the college level mastered the float game like Monte Morris. He was such a good finisher around the rim just normally, but the floater in the lane took his game to another level with the ability to change speeds and manipulate defenders almost like a pitcher on the baseball field.
4. Tyrese Haliburton’s catch-and-shoot jumper: I know, this one wasn’t on the list, but Haliburton was as good in catch-and-shoot situations as anybody Iowa State has had on this side of Tyrus McGee. The shot never looked pretty, but, man, it sure looked pretty when it went through the rim.
5. Izaiah Brockington’s long-two off isolation: It was one of those things that felt like it should never work in today’s age of basketball, but it nearly always did. It could be rough on nights when IZB was off, but you expected him to make it every single time when he was on.
Honorable mention: Jeff Beverly’s short corner jumper: He is and always will be the mid-range maestro for a reason. I saw it was Jeff’s birthday earlier this week. Happy late birthday to the short corner king!
Josh on Twitter: Does your opinion on NIL change depending on the sport? Seems good for football and awful for basketball.
I don’t know that it is necessarily better or worse for either sport, but I think the issues are certainly more glaring in basketball with fewer players to track on a given roster. When two or three players leave your football team to find better NIL opportunities, you hardly bat an eye because there are 80-plus other players on the team.
When one of your basketball players does the same thing, as we found out this spring, it can turn into a complete and total meltdown for the fanbase, because one player means a lot more when you only have roughly a dozen of them.
Greg Mackey on Twitter: Who is more right about Alanis Morrissette. Brent Blum or CW?
A short aside as an explanation for how I’m going to answer this question.
This is a direct quote from a text message CW sent me on Tuesday, “The rapper Drake is terrible and a total douche. No idea how he is popular.”
Keep in mind, Drake has sold roughly 170 million records to make him one of the highest-selling artists of all time, has 10 albums that have been No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and 10 singles that have been No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Clearly, Drizzy has done something right in his career to have that kind of success, and I think that includes (largely) making really good music that just so happens to have tapped into a formula for massive success. His most recent stuff isn’t for me, but I respect that other people out there might enjoy it.
I say all that to say I’m not sure CW is the guy I’d be going to for a really solid, level-headed and unbiased opinion on music.
That most certainly isn’t anything against Alanis because she made some truly great songs, but I’m going to have to side with my boy Blum on this. Just like Drake, Alanis struck gold by finding a formula that really worked and then ran with it to massive success on the charts and in record sales.
Joshua Kaiser on Twitter: Where does Iowa State sit in the new Big 12? With Oklahoma & Texas leaving, I’m not necessarily sure how that affects current Big 12 teams recruiting but I’m sure the powers will shift a bit.
I think Iowa State realistically sits somewhere in the bottom-end of the top to the middle of the new Big 12. Baylor looks poised to be a force for years to come, especially in football and men’s basketball. Oklahoma State is always going to be really good as long as Gundy is around, and has the fact they’re right next door to the state of Texas to sell.
Houston and TCU are going to have the recruiting advantage of being in massive cities in the conference’s most talent-rich state. Cincinnati will have a significant recruiting base advantage over Iowa State. Same with UCF, most notably on the football side.
This past school year proved Iowa State has the ability to have one of the best all-around athletic departments in the league with the success of its Olympic sports, but I think there’s a case to be made for all of those previously mentioned schools having better initial circumstances to work with in football and men’s basketball than Iowa State has.
ISUCyclones2015 on the forums: If you could be homeless in any city in the world, where would it be?
Well, I’d prefer to not be homeless at all, but for the sake of the exercise, I’ll say somewhere I can sleep on a beach every night next to the ocean. Preferably somewhere there’s a lot of money to be shared with the city’s homeless population when I stand alongside the freeway with my cardboard sign.
My second choice would be wherever CW lives because I saw that guy buy a bag of cookies from a homeless woman he felt bad for at a bar in San Antonio at like 2:30 a.m. I’d see him walking down the street and know there are strong odds I’m eating good tonight.
JM4CY on the forums: Football position group that your birdies are drooling over the most.
Literally, everyone I’ve talked to about this year’s roster loves the guys they have at cornerback. There’s a feeling they have elite talent at that position and have some depth that gives them the flexibility to do different things with those guys.
We’ve seen flashes from T.J. Tampa and Tayvonn Kyle over the last several years. Myles Purchase has the potential to be a big-time, big-time player. Darien Porter’s development will be interesting to watch as he makes the switch from wide receiver to corner, but he’s got the tools to be very good at the position.
That’s the group I’ve heard the most about going back to the start of the spring.
Cyclonepride on the forums: For basketball, do you think that last year’s offense was a one-off that was built specifically to the strengths of that team, or is that their base offense? And if it’s the latter, how much will they change it year to year to adjust for the skillsets of their roster?
I think a lot of what Iowa State did offensively last season was built around the skillsets of its roster rather than being a base system T.J. Otzelberger and his staff is dead set on running. Offensive improvisation was not a strength of last year’s team outside of Tyrese Hunter going sicko mode against LSU and a few sparkling games from Izaiah Brockington (most of which were still products of an offensive system built for Izaiah’s strengths).
That lack of ability to improvise pushed the staff into having to run an offense that was pretty highly structured and comprised primarily of guys going from point-a to point-b in order to get the looks they want. We also know how much they struggled to score on a consistent basis, which made running the shot clock down by running your stuff advantageous in situations when they couldn’t get out and run.
In the future, I’d expect to see more of the improvisational aspects that we got used to during the glory years of the early-to-mid-2010s, but you’ve gotta have the players who can execute that style of basketball before you can do it effectively.
If you thought Iowa State’s offense was already horrible last year, I’m not sure you would’ve liked to see the result if there’d been more freedom within the structure of the system.
Jkclone15 on the forums: How often will Iowa State go to small-ball this year, especially before Tre King becomes eligible, and who plays in that lineup?
The answer to this probably depends on if you consider a guy like Hason Ward, who is 6-foot-9, to be a small-ball type of player. If you do, then there will certainly be situations where Iowa State is playing “small.”
With that said, Osun Osunniyi and Ward’s presence should give Iowa State an opportunity to play effectively with a true center on the floor surrounded by four guards more than it did last season.
I don’t think there will be near as many situations in which we see Aljaz Kunc playing the five as we did last year, but maybe he could play the four alongside a guy like Tre King once he’s eligible to play as long as they can effectively gang rebound defensively.
For the sake of the discussion, here’s what I expect Iowa State’s starting lineup to look like at this point and what a potential early-season small-ball lineup would look like:
shadow on the forums: Favorite ISU game/event you’ve been at? Could be bowl games, basketball tournaments, etc.
The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament this past season in Milwaukee was truly special. There is something to be said for walking into hostile territory like Iowa State did and quieting the home crowd.
The 2015 and 2019 Big 12 Tournaments will always be special to me, as well.
The only right answer though is the 2021 Fiesta Bowl. I was one of the few people lucky enough to be in the building and I’m not sure there will ever be something that tops seeing Iowa State not only win a New Year’s Six bowl game but physically dominate the game basically from start to finish.
I’m not sure I ever even considered the possibility of Iowa State doing what it did on that stage before I saw it happen with my own two eyes. We’re not supposed to show emotion or anything like that in the press box, but I’ll admit now it was one of those moments where it is hard to hold back a cheery tear or two. It was truly, truly special for this guy who attributes everything he has to the decision to go to Iowa State University.
There will be plenty more Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments, but there will never be another first like that afternoon in Glendale.