Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What Can We Expect From McKay Going Forward?

I'm going to do something very, very dangerous on this New Year's Eve.  On a night where everyone is out letting loose and throwing caution to the wind one last time for the year I am going to do the same.  Kids, don't try this at home.  I'm going to take McKay's numbers thus far in just two games and use them to predict his future production.  Why is this dangerous?  Well, I once scored 5 points in a span of 30 seconds in a student vs staff basketball game.  I haven't exactly kept up that pace.  Anyway, here we go!

As I've stated above, I realize its only two games and two games against teams that barely have a pulse (no offense, Drake).  However, this is the data we have to draw on and I don't think McKay's game will change a whole lot based on competition.  He will get garbage points and those don't have a lot to do with defense.  I "extrapolated" the data to show his numbers for 30 minutes.  Do I think he will get 30 minutes a game soon?  Probably not, but those are "starter" minutes and I think McKay will creep closer and closer to that threshold.

vs Drake134.
vs MVSU175.
Season Avg154.

Should we expect to see McKay produce a line of 18/11/3 against better competition?  Probably not, but what if he produces at just 80 percent of that clip?  Here is the line:

Comp. Adj.307.29.614.48.82.4

Still pretty good huh?  Just how good?  Well, here was Melvin Ejim's production in similar criteria last year...

I adjusted Ejim's totals for 30 minutes per game to match McKay's.  Ejim shot a lower percentage, but also shot many more 3pt FGA's than McKay will ever take.  Ejim also contributed in a lot of other ways that McKay might not such as free throw makes and assists, but you get the drift.  McKay is pretty close to Ejim's numbers from last year.  A year in which Ejim won Big 12 Player of the Year.  Look, no one expected McKay to come in and be the Big 12 POY.  Ok, maybe some people did.  But, the point is his numbers are awfully close even after taking 80 percent of their values.

It will be interesting to see how this all correlates on Saturday against much stiffer competition.  Projecting him for 30 minutes is probably a bit high especially considering the pace at which he plays but the point remains, he has produced at a high level thus far.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Predicting the 2015-16 Non-Conference Schedule

These have been 11 of the longest days ever waiting between Hoiball experiences.  Hoiball is a drug and I am going through withdrawals.  With that being said as this season's non-conference season winds down I wanted to take a look at next years schedule.  I will assume ISU plays 12 non-conference games.  They can play 13 but they always choose to play 12.  I'm not sure why but my guess would be schedule flexibility.  If a quality opponent needs a game late in the scheduling process ISU has some room to work with.  Also, if the 13th game would just be a "buy game" why risk the loss?  Maybe I will have to call in next week and ask.  Anyways, here we go.

Guaranteed Games

vs 2 of (Chicago State, Alabama State, Chatanooga, Jacksonville State) *Emerald Coast Classic*
vs Virginia Tech (in Fla) *Emerald Coast Classic*
vs Illinois/UAB (in Fla) *Emerald Coast Classic*
vs Iowa
vs UNI (At Wells Fargo)
Big 12/SEC Challenge (AWAY, most likely)

That is 7 of 12 games already decided.  My guess is ISU goes on the road and plays Arkansas for the Big 12/SEC Challenge although it would be nice to get the chance at UK, but I'd rather wait to have them come to Hilton.

The Rest of the Games

It is important to note that there are really only two "buy games" from the list above and both of those come as part of the Emerald Coast Classic.  At least three of these five games will be against lower quality opponents.  Some names that make sense based on past schedules (Southern, UMKC, Northern Illinois, Nebraska-Omaha) might be included again or Fred may look elsewhere.  Anyway, expect AT LEAST three of the remaining five games to be these types of games played at Hilton.

Fans are clamoring for better non-conference opponents and I think that is easier said than done.  Like you see above, 7 of the 12 games are already accounted for.  One of the most important parts of non-conference schedules is keeping losses off the resume.  People can say all they want about a team going 7-5 in non-conference being tested and ready for conference play.  The truth is they will need to be ready because they are now on the bubble.  On the other side of that, Iowa State just can't go out and schedule Duke and North Carolina.  Not yet, anyway.  So what do I see happening?  Something like the following.

I've heard a lot of smoke about a possible Iowa State vs Minnesota series starting up.  I think this would be a great series for both parties.  I think Iowa State owes Minnesota a return trip via a scrimmage so I don't know if this will happen next year, but it might.  I could also see Iowa State scheduling a rematch with South Carolina.  Maybe at the Sprint Center in Kansas City?  That would make a lot of sense.  Here is how I see it going for the "other 5" games.

vs Nebraska-Omaha
vs Southern
vs Toledo
vs Minnesota
vs South Carolina (at Sprint Center)

That would give them a total of 7 home games, 4 neutral games and 1 true road game, which is exactly what they had this year.

Down the Road

Every fan would like to see their team get a crack at the Duke's, Kentucky's and Carolina's of the world every year.  It just doesn't happen like that.  A lot of the blue bloods do like to schedule each other in the non-conference and those teams need "buy-games" too believe it or not.  Here are some games I'd like to see that also are realistic and make a little bit of sense.

UConn--Hoiberg and Ollie are still pretty close I've heard from their playing days in the NBA.  It would be a quality opponent for each and for UConn, it would help balance that awful AAC schedule.

Washington- As long as TJ Otzelberger is there, this series makes a little bit of sense.  I don't see this being a home and home, but rather a neutral-neutral.  Iowa State might have to use Wells Fargo or the Sprint Center as a chance to lure some bigger names.

SMU- Hoiberg has credited a lot of his coaching pedigree to Larry Brown.  I'm sure Larry would be on board, but would Fred?  SMU presents a lot of risk as a quality opponent, but they lack the name recognition.

Non-Conference Critique

A lot of the Cyclone Fanatic brethren has clamored for more high quality games in the non-conference.  Would it be more entertaining for us fans?  You bet.  Is it best for the program?  I'm not sure it is.  While other teams have piled up the losses ISU has gone a combined 21-1 in their last 22 non-conference games.  This has allowed them to enter the Top 10 in each of the past two seasons at the beginning of conference play.  Rankings are important.  They don't affect what happens on the court, but they matter in the overall image of a program.

"But, these games won't be on television"-Anonymous.  Iowa State had games against Georgia State and UMKC nationally televised on the ESPN Networks this season.  People want more Hoiball, and people are getting more Hoiball.  Only four of the 12 non-conference games were on Cyclones.Tv this season.  That is a pretty solid rate.  We need to remember it is important for Cyclones.Tv to get some content as well.

When looking at future non-conference schedules take into account the Iowa, UNI/Drake, SEC Challenge and holiday tournaments before giving Fred a hard time about scheduling.  If ISU lands is one of these big 8-team events, that is six games already against fairly high competition before walking into a brutal 18 game conference season.

That's all I have for now.  Lets hope the Cyclones finish off this year's non-conference slate at 11-1 and do some work during the conference season.  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bracketology 12/29

Bracketology is back!  I will start by using my tried and true formula from last year and make adjustments as need be.

Here is the formula:
1/3 Human Poll Avg.
1/3 Computer Avg. (KenPom, Massey, Sagarin)
1/3 Lunardi S-Curve

Here are the results thus far:

Our composite ranking would indicate being on the border of a 3 and a 4 seed which I think is pretty accurate right now.  If we think about last year at this time, the Cyclones are further along in the seeding process.  Remember, the selection process is human.  To me, it is a little concerning that the computers are a little less optimistic than the humans but computer rankings aren't fully calibrated in the non-conference portion of the schedule.  Iowa State's strength of schedule hasn't been the greatest and Hoiberg has been messing around with different lineups during blowouts.  The result has been games with closer margins of victory than the computers saw coming.  Conference play will sort a lot of this out.

KenPom Prediction: 21-9 (10-8) w/percentages, 22-8 (11-7) Straight-Up
Massey Prediction: 23-7 (12-6) Straight Up
My Prediction: 24-6 (13-5)

Big Wins: Arkansas, @Baylor, Kansas, Texas, WVU, Baylor, Oklahoma
Jury Still Out Wins: vs Georgia State, vs Alabama, @Iowa
Losses: vs Maryland, @WVU, @KU, @OU, @OSU, @Texas

Tournament Prediction: 3 seed (without Big 12 Reg season or Tourn. Champ) or 2 seed (with either Big 12 Reg season or Tourn. Champ)

Note: My prediction is a little more optimistic than the formula would indicate but its not too far off.  I've been watching a lot of college basketball (probably more than any normal person should) and there just aren't very many great teams out there.  I like Iowa State to stay in the top 12 on the seed line by the end of the season.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Post-Game Thoughts vs UMKC

Once again the Cyclones looked like they were disinterested after getting a big lead.  In the grand scheme of things I suppose there are worse problems to have.  The good news is that for the second straight game Iowa State came out really, really strong to start the game.  They will need to do that again on Friday.  I'll take a page out of Chris Williams' book and do a three up, three down to summarize my thoughts on this game.  We'll start with the negative.

3 Down

1. Taking the foot off the pedal.  
I'm really not too concerned about this because Fred's teams have always played to the stage but it would have been nice to see them blow them out of the water.  It is crazy to think, but I almost believe this would have been a game Fred's first team would have won by more.  They wouldn't have done it by talent, but rather just going out there and playing fast for 40 minutes.  They lacked talent, but didn't suffer from lack of focus mainly because they didn't have any expectations.

2. Hogue's finishing around the rim.
He used to be automatic.  I'm starting to believe this has to be with playing the four spot more this year.  They guys guarding him are bigger and longer, but this should change when McKay returns.  (Gollly, I hope he is everything he's cracked up to be).

3. Naz/Nader 3-point shooting
I've been told Nader has a nice long range shot.  I've also been told a lot of other things that haven't been entirely true too.  As for Naz he has some nights like this.  I still think every time he releases it its going in but it appeared he was getting back to fading away.  When he does this he struggles.  When he gets straight up and down with good form he is close to a 50 percent 3 point shooter.

3 up

1. BDJ continues to stay hot on the offensive end.
I'm starting to believe this could be the second year in a row Iowa State has not only two players on the Big 12 1st team, but also two in the running for "Player of the Year".  The part I like is he is putting up numbers with such few shots.  His long range shot is looking good and he is knocking down his free throws.  It seems like the light bulb has clicked that he doesn't have to shoot it 20 times to score 20 and that he can contribute in other ways too.  I don't know how Fred does it but he keeps getting these guys to buy in.

2. Nader starting to shake the rust off.
It was great to see him get some extended minutes and a couple of dunks.  I still think he can contribute a decent amount this year and be a major player next year but he is still trying to catch up.  I was as impressed with him this game as I have been yet this season.  If he could just buy an outside basket he would really "stretch the floor".

3. Niang maturing against the zone.
In the past Niang would have taken 16 mid-range shots against the zone and made 4-5 of them.  It almost seems like he knows he will get his on certain nights and on others he is determined to get others involved.  He only took two shots (even though this is inflated a bit because he got fouled on some attempts)!  He probably should have had 10+ assists as Naz missed some open looks that he usually knocks down.  It is really nice to see Niang not force it like he has in the past.

Looking ahead

A pretty big opportunity is on the horizon for both Iowa State and Iowa on Friday.  For Iowa State, should they win, they have a chance of getting into the Top 10 before the conference season starts.  People will say rankings don't matter and in terms of outcomes in games they don't but in terms of building a program they do.  Being in the Top 10 during that three week "Big Monday" stretch would be big for attracting top end high school talent.  For Iowa, every non-conference win against a decent opponent means one less they need in the Big 10.  If they take both the Iowa State and UNI games, they might only need to go 9-9 in the Big 10.  If they drop both?  Well, in my opinion they are looking at needing the RIGHT 10 or 11 wins in conference play.

Monday, December 8, 2014

MBB Thoughts on the Arkansas Game

I'm rewatching the Arkansas game since I didn't get to see all of it the first time.

-So far, the only shots they've missed or not been fouled on have been when guys try to go it alone.  Monte had an ill-advised shot from the free throw line, and Thomas tried a step-back three.  When they move the ball, they're getting good looks and making them.

-Naz is showing a lot of confidence in his ball-handling.  He was really pushing the ball up the court.  ISU was still trying to get the outlet pass to near half-court even with the press defense after missed Arkansas shots.  Naz might even push the ball faster than Monte.

-The drop step make by Nader was really, really sweet.  Hope we get to see a bunch more of that over the next two years.

-Musburger "loves" Hilton, especially when the team gets on a run.

-Fran Fraschilla works hard during the breaks.  Musburger checks to see what time Old Chicago will shut down the "barooni."  And he's still creepy when they show girls on the TV.  "He he he, it's a lovely night in Iowa." Fran - "Are we making a star tonight?" Musburger - "Ahhhhh yeahhhh."

-Georges played defense on Portis, by far the toughest assignment.  If he can play effective defense, without fouling out against a player of that caliber, that'll be HUGE for the rest of the year.

-Naz does a nice job of sneaking into the corner.  When ISU moves the ball, the defense sags off and he can get a set shot.

-Morris shoots a lot of midrange jumpers.  I guess Fred allows this.  In my uneducated view, he's made about half of them.  That's not terrible.

-Edozie's been better than I give him credit for.  When he's in the game, he takes the ball hard to the rim, usually missing but drawing a foul. On the foul stripe he's been really good.

-Hogue picks up some easy buckets.

Final thoughts:  Mike Anderson said they played their worst basketball in the first half against Iowa State.  I haven't watched any Arkansas basketball before or since, but it seemed Arkansas was trying to play their game early and ISU out-ran and out-shot them.  It reminded me of the North Carolina game last year.

Portis played 31 minutes, but it didn't really feel like it.  To me, it seemed like he was missing for huge stretches of the game.  With a player like that, you need to keep them involved throughout.

The starters for ISU all played between 31 and 37 minutes.  Those people looking for a 10-man rotation are disappointed.  Only 26 minutes total off the bench in a game that was in double digits from a few minutes in.

Iowa will be a tough test.  ISU can't hit 60% of its shots every game and the Hawkeyes look a lot more like Maryland than Arkansas.  If the Cyclones prove they can win an ugly game, I'll feel pretty good about the team going into the conference season.