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.

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