Big 12 Team Preview: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 6th, 2013

Over the next two weeks, the Big 12 microsite will preview each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Iowa State.

Where We Left Off: For Iowa State fans, please excuse us, we don’t mean to re-live a bad memory. The 2012-13 season ended with Aaron Craft ripping the hearts out of Cyclone Nation with a go-ahead three-pointer in the final seconds of the second (or now third?) round of the NCAA Tournament last March. Iowa State made a serious statement a year ago, proving it belongs among the league’s best teams after finishing in a tie for fourth in the conference. While Hilton Coliseum has never been an easy place to play, Fred Hoiberg‘s mesh of young players and transfers has paid dividends in making Iowa State one of the scariest teams in the league every season.

Can Fred Hoiberg's Iowa State team build upon a fourth place finish in the league last season? (Ames Tribune)

Can Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State team build upon a fourth place finish in the league last season? (Ames Tribune)

Positives: Fresh off a successful run in league play a season ago, there’s so much to like about where Hoiberg has this program headed. While this Iowa State team did lose several key components to graduation, they return Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang in the frontcourt, both of whom played significant minutes last year. Ejim is a double-double machine down low and one of the best rebounders in the conference (although Ejim is expected to be out for most of November with a knee injury), while Niang has crafty skills to score the ball around the basket, and the touch to stretch a defense with his ability to knock down the outside jumper. Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane will be leaned on to fill the void from departed point guard Korie Lucious after averaging 15.1 points per game a season ago for the Thundering Herd, and freshman Matt Thomas is a sharpshooter who will fit in beautifully with Hoiberg’s three-point heavy system, helping Cyclone fans get over the loss of Tyus McGee to graduation.

Negatives: Hoiberg has transformed Iowa State into “Transfer U.” since he took over as head coach, and the strategy has worked almost flawlessly during this period. That said, there’s always a bit of a risk in relying so heavily on impact transfers and hoping the roster will gel during the year. While there is still a ton of talent on this team, the departures of Lucious and McGee, along with Chris Babb and Will Clyburn will create a big uncertainty in the backcourt. Whether Iowa State can continue to shoot the ball from deep as well as it has in the past will be a major factor in the team’s success this season.

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Assessing the Season: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by dnspewak on March 27th, 2013

As the season winds down and Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the postseason, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the 2012-13 season. Up next: Iowa State.

Final Record: 23-12, 11-7

The Expectations: This team was difficult to gauge in the preseason. The Cyclones had been so heavily reliant on Royce White last year, and Fred Hoiberg had a lot of new faces in Ames to consider. White had dominated the ball so much for in 2011-12 that with he, Scott Christopherson, and Chris Allen no longer available, Hoiberg had to gel a new class of big-name transfers into a winning team. It appeared that Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious would bring a new element to the roster as a true point guard, but White’s loss to the NBA was big. And even Will Clyburn, eligible after transferring over from Utah, probably was not going to be enough to replace the NBA Draft pick. You knew that Clyburn and Lucious could really play, though, and with the return of veterans Chris Babb, Tyrus McGee and Melvin Ejim, there seemed like enough talent still around to keep this team in reasonable postseason contention.

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After Losing To Ohio State

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After Losing To Ohio State

The Actual Results: The Cyclones never crashed and burned at any point, but it took them a long time to find their identity. Non-conference play did not fare all that well, as Iowa State lost just about every important game before the Big 12 schedule. It lost to Cincinnati and UNLV in a Las Vegas tournament and later also lost at Iowa. When it blew a sure victory to Kansas in the Big 12 opener — you know, the one where Ben McLemore banked in a three-pointer to send the game to overtime — nobody knew where this season was going. But thanks to a high-powered offense, Clyburn’s production and improved seasons out of sharpshooter Tyrus McGee and elite rebounder Melvin Ejim, the Cyclones eventually learned their identity. They were shooters. They’d light up the scoreboard, rebound the basketball and fire up every shot imaginable, and even though their defense wasn’t stellar, they could shoot their way to wins from the perimeter. So that’s what Iowa State did, earning home wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma State to build a resume strong enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. It ended abruptly in the Third Round Sunday afternoon thanks to Aaron Craft, but all things considered, Hoiberg’s “rebuilding” year didn’t seem like one at all.

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Rushed Reactions: Kansas 88, Iowa State 73

Posted by dnspewak on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 microsite writer. He’s in Kansas City this weekend for the Big 12 Tournament.

Iowa State Looked Dead and Buried Late In the Game

Iowa State Looked Dead and Buried Late In the Game

  1. Budding Rivalry: Kansas needed a rival when Missouri bolted to the SEC. Most figured it’d be Kansas State — and it is. A potential showdown with the Wildcats tomorrow night would make for an electric atmosphere in Kansas City. But there’s room for more than one rivalry, and if we’re in the business of anointing new conference feuds, we’ve got to think that Iowa State and Kansas will carry some bad blood into next year. For starters, there’s the sheer point differential of the two regular season games. The two teams needed overtime in both contests this season. First, in Lawrence, a miracle bank shot by Ben McLemore at the end of regulation helped the Jayhawks escape. In the rematch in Ames, an officiating controversy marred KU’s narrow win. That all led up to Round Three on Friday, and for much of the game, the intensity lived up to the hype. Kansas eventually ran away with the victory, but in the first half, you could tell this was more than just your run-of-the-mill semifinal between the top seed and five seed. Ben McLemore picked up a technical foul for jawing at Georges Niang on the bench after he knocked down a three-pointer, which then skyrocketed the tension in the arena. An irate Bill Self pranced up and down the sidelines, and minutes later, the officials then whistled his bench for a technical foul after they argued a no-call. Self seemed as fired up as ever. It seemed to spark his team after a competitive and highly entertaining first half.
  2. Defense and Rebounding: Iowa State’s inability to get a stop in the second half doomed the Cyclones. That’s not a new trend this season for Fred Hoiberg’s team. However, their poor effort on the boards was surprising. Kansas outrebounded ISU by 12, and at one point it grabbed five offensive rebounds on a single possession. Talk about demoralizing. In every way, the Jayhawks pulled away for the win by being the tougher team. It didn’t help that Iowa State’s shots weren’t falling from the perimeter, but Self had his team ready to punish the Cyclones in the second half. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 M5: 03.15.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 15th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The last game of Thursday’s session was perhaps the best. Oklahoma State survived a massive collapse to outlast the desperate Baylor Bears, 74-72. The Cowboys led by as many as 20 points late in the first half yet the Bears chipped away at the lead until they got it to a four-point deficit with 25 seconds left in regulation. BU’s Gary Franklin then tied it seconds later on a four-point play from the corner. After the Cowboys nailed two subsequent free throws, Pierre Jackson, who was all types of awesome in scoring 24 of his 31 points in the second half, missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer. Now what? The good in this is that we’ll get a look at Oklahoma State-Kansas State Version 3.0 as both teams split the regular season series. The bad news is of course that Baylor’s chances at an at-large bid is all but shot at this point. It looks like it’ll be the third time in the Scott Drew era that Baylor will miss the NCAA Tournament a year after making it. 
  2. We had a comeback attempt to close out the night but there was an actual one much earlier in the day. Iowa State found themselves down 14 early, and even 11 points halfway through the second half, only to take down the Sooners, 73-66. A storyline that won’t get much attention is the exchange senior guard Korie Lucious had with his coach Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg benched Lucious in the second half mainly due to his poor shooting (0-of-8). After the move, the Cyclones began to make their comeback and during a subsequent timeout, Lucious told Hoiberg to “keep going with these guys” because they had “a great flow going.” It turned out to be the right thing to do and now ISU gets its third shot at nailing down a win vs. Kansas.
  3. Jordan Tolbert’s layup with 3:11 left in the first half cut the Kansas lead to two over Texas Tech and signaled to the Jayhawks that they weren’t running away with the game any time soon. And then KU ran away with it. Ben McLemore was doing plenty of Ben McLemore things, scoring 24 points and hitting 8-of-12 from the field, four of those on three-pointers. Bill Self emptied out his bench later in the game and gave us a chance to see some Jayhawks who will make bigger impacts on future teams. Freshmen Anrio Adams went for 11 points in just five minutes and Perry Ellis had his second good game in a row, totaling eight points and seven rebounds. It’s only a matter of time before these guys win a Big 12 title of their own.
  4. Kansas State shot only 40% as a team, grabbed the same number of rebounds as Texas, missed eight free throws, and still beat the Horns by 17. Wait, what? It’s just another win in a long line of uninteresting and non-flashy wins for the Wildcats, who now improve to 26-6 on the season. Rodney McGruder poured in an efficient 24 points (10-of-20), eight of those coming on a K-State 10-0 run to give the Wildcats a double digit lead for good. He also pulled down seven rebounds. They’re still under the radar, aren’t they? Give it a week.
  5. Why does Marcus Smart wear #33? There is an answer and it further amplifies the kind of person this young man is. The number three has special meaning in his family. His three older brothers all wore three when they played in high school and that includes Smart’s half-brother Todd Westbrook, who was the first to don the number. Westbrook lost his long battle with cancer in 2004 at the age of 33. This surprises no one. You might think I’m going overboard with this but we don’t just need more Marcus Smart like prospects in college basketball, we need more Marcus Smart like people on this planet. I bet John Wooden would’ve loved to coach this kid.
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Where Does Iowa State Go From Here?

Posted by dnspewak on February 27th, 2013

Georges Niang drew a charge. Iowa State should have had possession of the basketball with a two-point lead late in regulation on Monday, and it should have had the chance to inbound the ball and ice the victory over sixth-ranked Kansas at the free throw line. The Cyclones should have all but sealed their NCAA Tournament at-large bid with the win, but then a funny thing happened. The officials made a human error. The Twitterverse blew up, ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla directed his outrage at the NCAA on the air, and the college basketball community essentially came to a consensus that Iowa State got jobbed.

Tough Loss Aside, Iowa State Has a Lot To Play For  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Tough Loss Aside, Iowa State Has a Lot To Play For (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Cyclones indeed had a victory stolen from them. Even Kansas fans would probably agree with that statement, but it doesn’t change the facts. The Jayhawks won because Elijah Johnson put on a display for the ages, draining threes from every corner of the state of Iowa. The officials weren’t guarding him. The Cyclones were — they were trying to, at least. Nobody could guard Johnson on this particular night, and blown call or not, Iowa State had a five-point lead with less than a minute remaining in regulation and could not hold on for a victory. Cry foul all you want and blame the zebras if it makes you feel better, but there’s nothing Fred Hoiberg and his crew can do about it now. They lost.

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Big 12 Team Resumes: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by dnspewak on February 5th, 2013

Over the next two weeks, we’ll break down where each Big 12 bubble team stands in terms of its current NCAA Tournament resume. We begin with a snapshot of Iowa State, a program seeking its second straight trip to the Big Dance under coach Fred Hoiberg.

Iowa State's Past Two Weeks Have Been Helpful  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa State’s Past Two Weeks Have Been Helpful (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Current Record: 15-6, 5-3 Big 12

RPI: 40

SOS: 70

This is the team you’ve forgotten about in the Big 12. Oklahoma State’s roller-coaster of a season caught your attention early. Oklahoma’s rapid improvement did too. But the Iowa State Cyclones have quietly built a case for another NCAA Tournament at-large selection, and it’d look a heck of a lot more impressive if the basketball gods hadn’t guided that Ben McLemore three-pointer off the glass and into the hoop on January 9. Blown chance against Kansas aside, Fred Hoiberg’s team has worked its way back into the at-large conversation by knocking off Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma in a two-week span. Nothing is guaranteed, but Monday night’s flawless victory at home over the Sooners is proof that Hoiberg might have the most dangerous bubble team in the league.

Case For An At-Large

The Cyclones did not fare all that well in non-conference play. They own a solid home victory over BYU, but they lost every other significant game outside of the Big 12. That’s why their 6-3 start in the conference — good for third place so far — has been so important. As stated earlier, the past two weeks have been critical. Iowa State has picked up three victories over the RPI Top 50 in Ames, which means Hoiberg’s squad is now an even 4-4 in that category. Not terrible. Plus, six games remain against the Top 50 in league play, so it’s not as though Iowa State’s opportunities are finished.

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Big 12 M5: 01.16.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 16th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. It can’t be a good feeling watching your season flash before your eyes, but that’s exactly how Bill Self must have felt when freshman guard Ben McLemore dropped to the floor late in Kansas’ 61-44 win over Baylor Monday night. Gary Bedore of the Lawrence-Journal World reported it was a grade one ankle sprain, and Self said he is hopeful that McLemore will only miss a few days, theoretically giving him enough rest before the Jayhawks’ next game against Texas on Saturday. The 6’5″ guard from St. Louis is averaging 16.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG this season and has shot up NBA Draft boards recently, even being discussed as the possible #1 overall pick in next June’s draft.
  2. Speaking of Bill Self, he will be inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in August, KUAthletics.com reported Monday. Self grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma, and later played at Oklahoma State from 1982-85. He was named the Oklahoma High School Player of the Year in 1981 and was named to the All-Big 8 Freshman team a year later. He worked under Eddie Sutton from 1986-93 and began his head coaching career in the same state, first at Oral Roberts and then at Tulsa until 2000. He recruited the bulk of the 2004-05 Illinois team that made the national championship game, won the 2008 national championship at Kansas, made another appearance in the title game last season, and is on his way to a ninth consecutive Big 12 regular season championship. Hall of Fame worthy? Yeah.
  3. It’s not as if a coach would ever admit to losing control of his team, but for what it’s worth, Rick Barnes refuted any such claims Monday. “We have a group of guys who want to be good,” Barnes told the Austin American-Statesmen. “They are willing to work. I’m not worried about ever losing them.” They may want to be good, but the Longhorns are far from a good team right now. Barring a big upset, they will be 0-4 in Big 12 play after Saturday’s game against Kansas. Myck Kabongo is still out for nearly another month, and leading scorer Sheldon McClellan played just one minute in Saturday’s 20-point loss to Iowa State.
  4. Kansas State senior guard Angel Rodriguez is good, but his coach just wishes he were more consistent. He is second on the team with 9.5 PPG and leads the Wildcats with 4.4 APG, but he is prone to boneheaded plays, like fouling out 90 feet away from the basket against Oklahoma State, as Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle points out. Bruce Weber insisted to Robinett that Rodriguez can’t play the game like he is by himself on the court. “He’s part of the team,” Weber said. “He’s got to keep it in the system.” Even with his inconsistent play at times, Rodriguez has helped lead the Wildcats to a 13-2 record and #16 overall ranking. They face TCU tonight and Oklahoma on Saturday before a big home game against Kansas next week.
  5. Korie Lucious had his two highest turnover games in the first six weeks of the season, committing seven TOs on opening night to Southern and seven more in a loss to intrastate rival Iowa on December 7. He also had six turnovers in a losing effort to Cincinnati on November 23. The senior guard has settled down since then, turning the ball over more than four times just once since that game against Iowa. Not surprisingly, the Cyclones are a banked three-pointer away from being 6-o since facing the Hawkeyes. “I like the way they flow,” Rick Barnes told the Des Moines Register last Saturday. “They share the ball. They do a lot of good things.” The Cyclones are sixth in the country with 82.5 PPG and 15th with 16.9 APG, both largely credited to improved play from Lucious.
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Big 12 Conference Call: January 12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 12th, 2013

Welcome to the first Conference Call of conference play! We are one full week into the Big 12 season and you can already put each team into one of four boxes: the you’ll-know-how-they-finish box (Kansas, TCU and Texas Tech), the disappointment box (Texas, West Virginia), the surprise box (Kansas State) and the don’t-know-where-to-put-them box (Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma). Today, we discuss the futures for some of these teams, some of the disappointing players and much more. 

Things have been a-ok for Bruce Weber and Kansas State (Associated Press)

Things have been a-ok for Bruce Weber and Kansas State (Associated Press)

  1. Two of the league’s biggest disappointments, West Virginia and Texas, played an ugly basketball game Wednesday with the Mountaineers prevailing in OT. Which team will hear its name called on Selection Sunday?
  2. Iowa State was a bank shot three away from picking up a huge win vs Kansas in Lawrence. What do we make of the Cyclones this season?
  3. If you were to stop the season right now, which Big 12 coach would be the first to get fired?
  4. Which player has been the biggest disappointment this season?
  5. Divisional round of the NFL playoffs are Saturday and Sunday. Who ya got?

*****

1. Two of the league’s biggest disappointments, West Virginia and Texas, played an ugly basketball game Wednesday with the Mountaineers prevailing in OT. Which team will hear its name called on Selection Sunday?

  • KC: Both teams will hear their names called on Selection Sunday when the NIT picks the scraps off the table. Even if you assume Myck Kabongo will return to his old self immediately next month, the Longhorns will be lucky to be above .500 at that time and Kabongo isn’t good enough to change that ship’s course. And again, that’s assuming he will be great from the get-go, and I don’t think that will be the case. With no marquee wins on the schedule, West Virginia probably needs 12 more wins this season — giving them 20 — to make the dance. You have to jump through a few mathematical hoops to find 12 more wins on their schedule at this point.
  • DS:  I’d be surprised if either West Virginia or Texas even make the NIT. The first half of the season has been a disaster for both squads. It’s been so bad, in fact, that both teams are ranked outside of the top 100 in the RPI. I mentioned earlier this week that it’d be silly to even attempt to determine what Texas must do from this point forward to make the NCAA Tournament. That’s how far off the bubble the Longhorns are right now, and the same goes for West Virginia. Look at the Mountaineers’ “resume,” if you even want to call it that. There’s that one-point win against a Virginia Tech team that has lost four straight games by a combined 96 points. Oh, and Bob Huggins‘ team also beat a better-than-you-might-think Eastern Kentucky team at home. So there’s that, too. Texas, meanwhile, is hanging its hat on a home win over a North Carolina team that’s crumbling by the day, and Myck Kabongo won’t return from suspension until mid-February. There are Great West teams with more compelling CBI resumes than Texas and West Virginia right now. Well, almost.
  • NK: Regardless of how this season was going to turn out for the Mountaineers, they weren’t going to be anything like last year’s team. That squad had Tournament-tested guys like Darryl “Truck” Bryant and Kevin Jones. Now with those players gone, Deniz Kilicli, Aaron Brown and Jabarie Hinds were supposed to assume bigger roles this season, but in turn, they are having worse seasons this year than last. For some reason, I can’t close the door completely on Texas. Javan Felix has proven he is more than just a back-up point guard in Kabongo’s absence. Though he needs to make shots at a higher percentage, Sheldon McClellan is a better number one option than anyone West Virginia has. I don’t think either team will make the Tournament now but I’d say Texas has better odds of making it than WVU.

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Big 12 M5: 12.12.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 12th, 2012

  1. You can file this into the Won’t Ever Happen In Our Lifetime category, but at least one random writer wants Bill Self to make the jump to the NBA ranks. Could Self coach the Washington Wizards? The argument here is that the Wizards are a younger team who may respond to his college-style tactics. Again, this simply will not happen, and it’s hard to fathom Self ever leaving his cushy, high-paying job at one of the top programs in college basketball. But it’s fun to think about. As is usually the case, Self’s success at the NBA level would entirely depend on the team around him. The failures of college-to-pro coaches almost always hinge on the personnel — the NBA is unquestionably a players’ league.
  2. It’s easy to see Texas‘ flaws without looking at the numbers, but just for kicks, here’s a look at how the Longhorns’ horrendous statistics this season break down. Interestingly, Rick Barnes’ team actually took care of the ball better against UCLA by only turning it over on 15 percent of their possessions. Overall, though, it’s been a recurring problem, and this site does a great job of analyzing Texas’ true shooting percentage so far this year. Whether you embrace voodoo-like sabermetrics or not, the numbers are not pretty.
  3. Kansas State missed its chance against Michigan. Now, the Wildcats have a make-or-break non-conference stretch, starting with a date against Gonzaga this weekend. The Zags dropped a home game to Illinois last weekend, but this game will be played in Seattle’s Key Arena on a semi-neutral floor. As assistant coach Chris Lowery puts it, “at least we’re not in The Kennel.” That’s for sure, no matter what happened against Illinois. Just ask West Virginia.
  4. Korie Lucious will probably be fine. It hasn’t been a terrific start for the Iowa State point guard, though. Get this: So far this year, he’s turned the ball over more times than any other player in a major conference. He’s sitting at 41 turnovers over 10 games, to be exact, and that’s hardly what Fred Hoiberg thought he’d get out of the Michigan State transfer. As this article points out, this is a new responsibility and leadership role for Lucious, so give him a little time to adjust before blaming him for all of the Cyclones’ woes.
  5. Marcus Smart, on the other hand, hasn’t needed to adjust at all as a freshman at Oklahoma State. Smart has done absolutely everything we all predicted him to do. We said Smart was a high-IQ, high intangibles guy, and he’s been that. We said he’d be dynamic. He’s done that, too. He’s scored, passed, rebounded, played hard and looks like the kind of game-changing player Travis Ford has been waiting for. No wonder the Cowboys look like a Big 12 contender just one year after finishing below .500.
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Big 12 M5: 11.27.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 27th, 2012

  1. There was a lot that went wrong in the Big 12 last week. There was that one school that lost to a Division II school (Texas), another team that scored 31 points in a 40 minute basketball game (TCU), and two others that lost two times each (Iowa State and West Virginia). But what was the league office to do, not release their weekly awards? Well they did. Kansas senior guard Travis Releford was named Player of the Week after averaging 20 PPG while killing it from everywhere there was hardwood (65% FG and 60% 3FG). Meanwhile, Oklahoma high-flying transfer Amath M’Baye won Rookie of the Week honors and I’ve got a feeling it won’t be his last. Let’s hope for a better overall week from our Big 12 teams.
  2. There are two teams currently undefeated in the Big 12: The first of course is Oklahoma State with its 6-0 mark and flashy Top 20 ranking. But can you name the other? Oh it’s… no, that can’t be right. Can it? That’s right, the Texas Tech Red Raiders are standing tall at 4-0. How can this be explained? This team averaged a paltry 59 points per game last season and now they’re putting up 90 on the regular. Yes they’ve dominated SWAC competition so far this year but if you told me a month ago they’d be one of two teams with a spotless record in the Big 12, I would have commended your positive attitude and kindly told you to get real. Indeed it is I who needs to get real. I’m rooting big time for Chris Walker to get a contract extension because to me, he earned one at Big 12 Media Day. He and his Red Raiders have a great litmus test coming up Saturday in Lubbock vs #9 Arizona.
  3. The injury saga with Kansas freshman Zach Peters has come to an unfortunate end. After battling through four concussions in the last two years and a rotator cuff injury suffered early this offseason, Peters has decided to leave the KU basketball team effective at the end of the fall semester. But according to coach Bill Self, Peters will not be leaving the school; he just won’t be competing anywhere else “at least for a while,” which is even sadder news. Peters had his first two concussions while playing football during his senior season in Plano, Texas, and suffered the other two within the last four months at Kansas. All the best to you, Zach.
  4. As we mentioned above, Iowa State had a rough couple days in Las Vegas. They face two ranked teams in Cincinnati and UNLV, and they had chances to win both games before faltering late, so Fred Hoiberg will have his team working hard at practice this week. One problem mentioned in this Des Moines Register article is the ineffective play of transfer Korie Lucious, whose 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio isn’t exactly ideal from your starting point guard. Once the Cyclones can take better care of the basketball (they’re currently averaging 16 turnovers per game), only then will we see this team reach its full potential.
  5. Some breaking news to pass along: Jeff Withey plays basketball and he plays it well. The senior had himself quite a night against San Jose State, tallying 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in KU’s win against San Jose State. Last night’s triple-double is only the second recorded in the history of Kansas basketball; Cole Aldrich had the other one back in 2009. But it wasn’t all easy for the Jayhawks. They held a 60-36 lead halfway through the second half before the Spartans made a run to cut their lead to seven with 2:39 to play. Kansas then scored the game’s last six points, shutting the door for good. But seriously, how did KU in the 1950s not count how many blocked shots per game Wilt Chamberlain had? That is very much a ridiculous thing to not do.
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Big 12 Team Preview #7: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by KoryCarpenter on November 6th, 2012

Over the next two weeks, we’ll bring you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. Iowa State at the #7 position is next on our list.

The Skinny

  • 2011-12 Record: 23-11, 12-6 Big 12
  • Key Contributors Gone: F Royce White, G Scott Christopherson, G Chris Allen
  • Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg, 3rd season
  • Projected Finish: 7th

Replacing Royce White will be crucial if Iowa State wants to continue its uptick in the Big 12.

Fred Hoiberg wasted no time after being hired at Iowa State in April 2010, quickly assembling a group of transfers who sat out the first season before making a big impact a year ago. The Cyclones saw a seven-win improvement in 2011-12 and played eventual national champion Kentucky tough — at least for a half — in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament before losing, 87-71. Now Hoiberg is looking to do it again. Last year’s top three scorers are gone, led by NBA first round pick and do-everything forward Royce White. He has two more excellent transfers eligible to play this season and a solid four-man recruiting class to blend with those transfers. Hoiberg proved he could mesh everything together for a successful season a year ago, but he had a lot of help with one of the most difficult forward match-ups in the country in the form of Royce White. The non-conference schedule plays out nicely for the Cyclones, with a few tough games — a possible game with UNLV in Las Vegas in the Global Sports Classic and BYU in Ames — but plenty of multi-directional schools will be at home to boost the win total while the newcomers learn to play together. Hoiberg said at the Big 12 Media Day that he has accomplished what he set out to do, quickly building up the program with transfers and surrounding them with good four-year guys. It was successful last season and Hoiberg’s roster moves this year proves that he thinks it will work again.

The Personnel

Hoiberg said that he’ll always play to the strengths of his team, no matter the style. Last year, he gave the ball to White just about anywhere on the floor and let him distribute to the shooters, and it worked. White was too big for most guards and too fast for most big men. And when he drew extra attention, Cyclone shooters were ready, knocking down 293 three-pointers on the year. Hoiberg called last year’s team unconventional because of White’s offensive game, something that won’t be the case this season. “We’ll have Korie Lucious, a pure point guard again,” Hoiberg said at Big 12 Media Day. “I’m excited about that. It gives us the opportunity to play a little faster.” Lucious, now a redshirt senior, played three seasons at Michigan State, contributing to two Final Four teams for Tom Izzo while averaging 6.5 PPG and 4.1 APG in 2010-11. He takes over for White, sort of. As Hoiberg mentioned, Lucious is a pure point guard, while White was nothing of the sort. Lucious will look to pass first and score second. He’ll push the tempo, and while he’s not a 6’8″, 260-pound mismatch, he brings his own skills to this Cyclone team. “He’s got that experience of leading a basketball team.” Hoiberg said. “And we’ve got the athletes to get out and run and play with him.”

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Big 12 M5: 10.26.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on October 26th, 2012

  1. Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2014 out of Huntington Prep (WV) has decided to graduate early and reclassify to the 2013 class, Rivals.com announced Thursday. Wiggins is good enough that he’s already assumed the No. 1 spot in the class of 2013, supplanting Julius Randle or Jabari Parker, depending on whom you ask. Kentucky and Florida State remain in the lead for Wiggins’ services, but North Carolina and Kansas recently checked in on the 6’7″ Canadian as well. Kentucky seems like the obvious favorite at the time but the Wildcats already have five commitments in the class — three in the top 10 — leading to some serious competition for playing time. Wiggins’ father, Mitchell Wiggins, played for Florida State in the early 80s, which has obviously helped the Seminoles in his ongoing recruitment. Kansas and North Carolina sent assistants to Huntington earlier this week, but the interest between the two schools and Wiggins is still largely unknown.
  2. Speaking of the Jayhawks, Kansas announced Thursday the installment of a four-year series with Georgetown to begin next December in Allen Fieldhouse. The two teams will meet in the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. during the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons with another trip to Kansas in 2015-16. The Hoyas are another quality non-conference opponent for Bill Self in a long line of quality non-conference opponents, from Duke and Kentucky to Michigan State and Ohio State in recent years. The primary incentive of this interesting Big 12/Big East match-up is to benefit KU’s east coast recruiting. Assistant coach Joe Dooley is an east coast native and has helped land a number of local recruits for the Jayhawks, such as the Morris twins (Philadelphia), Tyshawn Taylor (New Jersey) and Thomas Robinson (Washington, D.C.).
  3. Baylor opened up its exhibition season with a 103-75 victory over Abilene Christian Thursday night in Waco. Junior guard Brady Heslip hit six three-pointers and finished with 18 points on the night. That Baylor gave up 75 points is a whole lot of scoring to give up to a Division II team, but the game was only an exhibition after all. There was nothing of note to take from the box score, obviously, but it was nice seeing one of those again after a six-month hiatus. Only two weeks until the real games begin.
  4. Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com ranked the top 30 freshman on Thursday, and put Kentucky center Nerlens Noel on top. The Big 12 had four freshmen on the list including three of the top 10. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart was second on the list, and his versatility will give him plenty of opportunities to score this season while also racking up plenty of assists alongside scorer Le’Bryan Nash. The Big 12 rounded out its choices with Baylor center Isaiah Austin (#7), Kansas guard Ben McLemore (#9), and Texas center Cameron Ridley (#18).
  5. Yes, it’s another CBSSports.com list. They’ve been on fire this week with these preseason lists of players and Jeff Goodman added another quality piece on Thursday, ranking the top 30 transfers this season. Not surprisingly, former Xavier standout Mark Lyons — now at Arizona — topped the list, but not far behind Lyons was Iowa State forward Will Clyburn (#4), who averaged 17.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG for Utah two seasons ago, both team highs. Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg seems to love Clyburn, another solid transfer to venture to Ames the last few years. The Cyclones were represented again with former Michigan State guard Korie Lucious coming in at No. 17. Big 12 newcomer West Virginia had two players on the list as well, center Aaric Murray (#5) and point guard Juwan Staten (#13). Oklahoma junior forward Amath M’Baye was the fifth Big 12 player on the list (#23), and was recently named a team captain.
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