Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Qualitative Review of the Cyclones 2012-2013 MBB Season

Many games in the 2012-2013 season were disappointing, but the season was anything was not.  This team was the most entertaining to watch that I can remember.  Royce White was special last year, but this year's team changed the way I watch basketball.  'Hoiball' is in full effect.  ISU teams have been uptempo in the past, but they were on the edge of being reckless.  This edition scored a lot of points, but they also did it with efficiency, shooting at a high percentage overall, from three, from the line.  They rebounded and dished assists.  All five players had a green light from anywhere on the court, which made them tough to defend.

I say they changed the way I watch basketball because now when I'm watching other teams play, I see someone left open and yell "SHOOT!"  I wanted ISU's players to take MORE shots.  The Cyclones and Fred got the national recognition they deserved through a couple close games against Kansas, and another good showing in the NCAA tournament.  Other fans took notice.  Talking heads took notice.  Ole Miss heel Marshall Henderson took notice.  Coaches took notice (see Bill Self's 'T' routine, and Travis Ford trying to copy it).  We can only hope recruits took notice.  What shooter or point guard wouldn't want to play in a system like this.

 - Fred is quickly becoming a great coach.  I was worried about the X's and O's, but not any more.  This is the third year he's tailored the team to his talent.  The scoring this year was, in part, a way to mask the limited defense this group could play.  I believe we'll see something different next year (more below).

 - Fred is good for one extra win in the NCAA's.  What do I mean?  He wins one more game than the team is seeded.  Tom Izzo is probably the best example of this, MSU beats expectations every spring.  Winning a game each as a 9 seed and as a 10 is an accomplishment.  Look at the coaches they've beaten - Calhoun and Mike Brey.  The teams - UCONN and Notre Dame.  And they crushed them.  The teams they've lost to haven't been slouches either - Kentucky with Calipari and Ohio State with Thad Matta.  Fred ain't no Jamie Dixon.

 - Tyrus McGee will go down as one of my favorite Cyclones ever.  He was like the Super Jake Sullivan.  Defenses finally figured out Jake, and his team wasn't helping much toward the end, but it wasn't like all Tyrus' shots were wide open either.  Favorite moment was when, after dubbing him "Mc3", Doherty yelled "chalk it up!" as the ball left Tyrus hands for another contested three.  Of course it went in.

 - Chris Babb started both years in the best two year stretch outside of Fred's playing days and Jamaal Tinsley.  Not saying he was the reason why, but I don't think it was a coincidence either.  Tough to watch his college career end the way it did.

 - Melvin Ejim will start 4 years in what could be the best four year stretch since... ever?  Without going into too many numbers, it looks to compare favorably with Orr's last year and Floyd's first three.  Especially if ISU makes a deeper run in the tournament next year.  Again, I don't think it's a coincidence.  Ejim has made a step change improvement every year.  More in my early predictions post.

 - Korie Lucious bought in earlier, and harder than Chris Allen did the year prior.  I dubbed him Chris Allen 2.0 early, because he'd bring the ball down and shoot.  Or turn it over.  But by the end of the year, he was running the offense and taking wide open looks.  All of his numbers improved greatly over the year.

 - I still think we could have seen more out of Clyburn.  Sorry.  Dude has a NBA build, can jump, can get to the rim.  Has shown at times the ability to shoot.  But the ball handling got worse if anything.  He disappeared on offense at times.  Defended all 5 positions, but not real well.  Will had all the advantages (team, tempo, wins) that Craig Brackens didn't.

 - Georges Niang.  Who could have expected so much?  Even Hoiberg had to be pleasantly surprised.  Opposing fans knew all about him, and Jim Nance might have been his biggest fan for one day in March.  I'll write more about what to expect next year, but the transformation this chubby kid who couldn't shoot or run at the beginning of the season to vocal leader and offensive focal point at the end was spectacular.  Which brings me to the final point about this season...

 - Individual improvement.  Last year, you felt like the players progressed into what they could be.  But this year, you feel like everyone became better than they SHOULD be. And that's what makes me the most excited about the Fred Hoiberg era.  We can expect everyone to improve year to year and then also during the season.  The players coming in next year and beyond should be decent NCAA players from the start, but any of them could improve into something truly special by the time their ISU careers are over.  To steal a line from the football team, I'm ALL IN and can't wait until next year.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

'Twas the Night Before Vegas...

Twas the night before Vegas when all through the house, everyone was giddy except for my future spouse. My carry-on bag was packed with care, prepared for the events that would happen out there. Tonight is the last night to get rest in my own bed for I'm sure when I return I'll have a great pounding in my head. For when I get out there I'll take only a nap while hoping the winnings lay in my lap. When I wake to oh such a clatter I'll crack a smile because today it doesn't matter. Away to the airport I flew like a flash thinking of bringing in that cold hard cash!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cyclones Tourney Hopes (1 Week Left)

With just a week left until Selection Sunday Iowa State appears to have put themselves in a position to make their second straight NCAA tournament experience with two wins this last week.  After laying an egg against Oklahoma it appeared that ISU might let that Kansas game ruin their season.  They bounced back in a big way on Senior Night and didn't let a 27 point lead turn into a loss against West Virginia.  Lets take a look at the numbers...

Current Resume:

Overall Record: 21-10
Conference Record: 11-7
Big Wins: #11 Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, @Baylor, Oklahoma State
Bad Losses: @Texas Tech, @Texas
RPI: 47

*The Baylor wins may not carry much weight now but could if the Bears win a couple games in the Big 12 tournament

Bracket Matrix:

They are currently in 76 out the 76 possible brackets on Bracket Matrix and are listed as an 11 seed.  This has partially been aided by the bubble team being as soft as a baby' get the idea.  I don't see a loss against Oklahoma hurting this team.  In fact after OU lost Saturday against TCU they may need this game more than ISU.

Before I give my prediction for next Sunday lets take a look at the original projection on January 15th.

My Prediction (1/15) **This is based on what I predict will happen, not their resume to date**

I think Iowa State will pile up the wins in Big 12 play.  The league is just not very good.  ISU could finish as high as 2nd in the conference.  I don't see them losing any game at home except maybe Kansas.  I think they have at least four road wins in them.  My final season results are as follows...


Overall Record: 23-8

Conference Record: 13-5 (Losses: @OSU, @OU, @BU, @Kansas, vs Kansas)
Big Wins: Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma St., Oklahoma, @Kansas St.
Bad Losses: None (although OU could go from big win to bad loss depending on which way they go)

Overall Seed: 7 (Just because I hope they stay off the 8/9 line)

If you change a few bounces here or there that actually wasn't too bad of a prediction for January.  They were much closer to winning the league than most people thought.

 My Prediction (3/10) **This is based on what I predict will happen, not their resume to date**

The Cyclones are in.  They pass the eye test, the resume test and there is even a little insurance if the committee considers the debacle in Ames.  They have a chance to solidify themselves with some wins in Kansas City.  I think they have a few in them.  Their first game actually worries me more than their potential next two.  To me, ISU starts as an 11 seed and moves up 1.5 seeds for every win in KC.

Seed: 10 
Site: Austin, Texas 
Opponent: North Carolina