There isn’t much that Fred Hoiberg needs to say to have No. 14 Iowa State ready for what, in the end, stacks up as an early-season trap game.
The players watched over the weekend as Michigan fell to a school that doesn’t have a conference, let alone much name recognition.
“Michigan lost to like N.J.I.T. or something like that,” guard Monte Morris said, correctly naming the school that garnered weekend headlines. “[Coach] hasn’t really said anything about the Michigan thing, but all the players, we know about it. We just don’t want to be a part of that statistic.”
So Iowa State isn’t overlooking UMKC, the opponent that stands in the way of focusing on what fans might be — a matchup Friday night in Iowa City against the in-state rival Hawkeyes. First up is Kansas City on Tuesday night.
The Kangaroos are a team that the Cyclones put away by 59 points last season, and a team that they enter as a 22-point favorite against at Hilton Coliseum. It is also a team that beat Missouri — Yes, the SEC’s Missouri — by eight on the road to open the season and stuck with Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., the next time out.
“I finished up with [watching] the Missouri game. They played great that one and had K-State down 10 in the second half. It’s a team — they play extremely hard,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “They’re going to come in and if they’re knocking down shots, that’s a team that you’ve got to play well. We’ve got to get out to a good start, that’s important.”
That sentiment had already been passed to players before the Cyclones stepped on the court at Hilton for practice Monday afternoon.
“UMKC, they’re a really talented team,” forward Georges Niang said. “Obviously we have to be aware of what they can do.”
What UMKC does well — and what it might try to do against Iowa State for nearly 40 minutes Tuesday night — is pressure. The Kangaroos use a mixture of fullcourt pressure and a trap zone to get teams out-of-synch.
Iowa State doesn’t expect anything less Tuesday. So UMKC, everybody agreed Monday, isn’t a team to be overlooked.
“Last week I saw a bunch of ranked teams lose,” Niang said. “We just have to press forward and know that we’re going to get team’s best game just because we have a number next to our name.”