Bob Sundvold Q&A

Just hours after the Cyclones closed out a victory over Missouri to open up the Big 12 slate, CN publisher Steve Deace sat down with assistant coach Bob Sundvold during his daily radio show on 1460-AM KXNO in Des Moines. Here is a complete transcription of that interview.

Deace: Obviously, last week you went on the road and played a couple solid clubs in Virginia and San Diego State with Steve Fisher which has been a post-season contender the last few years. In both of those games you had second half leads and for whatever reason, just couldn't hold on to them down the stretch. Maybe lost your composure a little bit with some young players in the backcourt and succumbed on the road. You had that same script last night. You had a 12 point lead in the second half, all of a sudden now they go on a twenty to five run. They're up by six or seven points and that would have been an excellent opportunity for you guys to follow that same script. Wayne calls a time out with five minutes left and since then you took control of the game. What was said in that time out?

Sundvold: Well, he made a great adjustment and it involved a little bit on our offense. What I think is very important is in that run that Missouri had, we had great shots. They weren't falling. We missed a couple lay-ups and a couple short jumpshots. The team gets a little edgy and maybe the touch isn't there. The timeout was great. Wayne made a great call. We added the dribble drive to our offense. We wanted a little more penetration.

When you have a guy like Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, those two guys can break their guys down and get in the paint. Curtis made three great baskets and really turned the tide on this momentum thing. But, I think there's a couple other things that happened. Teams are like kids. There's a readiness factor with everything that goes on.

When we lost to Virginia, we weren't ready to handle that little run that they made at us and we didn't know what to do with it. We learned a little more with San Diego State. And, just like learning to crawl before you walk and walk before you run, it's kind of like we had to do and so when we had this game at home we were able to figure something out because of what happened before. The last thing is this crowd at Hilton. They don't want you to lose. They will fight and get involved in the game to try to prevent it. They were really key in helping our young team.

Deace: You mentioned that crowd. Wednesday's are a terrible night for me. I have my church group so I had to TIVO the game. I woke up this morning and watched it first thing. I thought the crowd was incredible and then I went online and read some of the game stories in the local paper and see that there were only 8,800. Watching the game on TV, I never would have guessed that.

Sundvold: Well, I didn't realize either because it was as loud as I've ever heard it. Those fans were into it. One thing we have here at Iowa State is some great loyal fans. We also have a great TV package and we play a mid-week game and have it on television, someone up in Storm Lake has to decide whether to go up to the game or sit at home and watch it on TV and it's five below, a lot of times that's not a difficult decision. But, the other thing is that we have a lot of fans here in Iowa that understand winter and weather and, what the heck, we go to the games.

But, I was thrilled with the crowd and how much they got into it. I was talking to one of the Missouri assistants before and he said that they talk about Hilton as being the toughest place to play because of the fans. The fans are into it and they're knowledgeable. It shows through in a lot of games. The Xavier game that we played right before Christmas, at the four-minute mark, they got into it and I saw the looks on the faces of some of the Xavier guys and I thought they haven't heard this before. So, it is kind of a unique thing.

Deace: You know, one of first things that Wayne did was the upgrading of the non-conference schedule. Some of that is obviously marketing and some of it is preparation for playing in one of the toughest leagues in America year in and year out with the Big 12. You touched on it a little bit when we talked about the pattern you guys had fallen into last week and how you were able to reverse it last night. That's a great example, what we saw last night. You have to go back to a team that Larry had the first year they won the Big 12, they played number 1 Cincinnati to a near standstill over the holidays that year and that really gave them some confidence that they could be a really good ball club. That's why you need to upgrade that non-conference schedule. Last night if you had played San Diego Union and Virginia Commonwealth last week instead of the two teams you played, you wouldn't have faced that adversity and when you blew that 10 point lead there might have been a different result last night.

Sundvold: Well, I think that there's definitely something to that. The other thing that goes into that is the experience of your team. If you have a very young team and a new team, you want to build some confidence early and you may schedule a little light early in the year, but at some point you have to come to the reality that your league games are going to be fierce and tough and you have to do something in your non-conference schedule that will help prepare them whether it be a road trip or a top ten team coming into your place. Something you have to do in order to get them ready for those games.

Deace: What also impressed me is coming off some adversity, obviously Christmas and New Year's, you had a couple of tough road losses. You had a very halfhazzard trip back from San Diego where luggage was lost and people got stranded and then to come right out on your first league game, where you had some young kids handling the basketball out there that really didn't know what to expect and to come out to such a strong start, I thought that spoke well of the preparation that you guys had for that team under those circumstances.

Sundvold: Well, Coach Morgan told the team that Monday's practice won this game because they came in Monday night even though they were tired and beat and put a lot into it and worked hard. I thought we were still fighting a little bit our conditioning because of the travel and the way we had to bus back in from Chicago and losing our luggage and all of that stuff. I think maybe a little bit of our conditioning was affected, but luckily we had guys come off the bench.

Reggie George gave us some great minutes early. Skoagland gave us some great minutes and Marcus Jefferson off the bench is always valuable. So, we had these guys step up and give Jackson (Vroman) or Jared (Homan) a blow and Jake a key blow in the first half and allow us to get through that first period where you may be a little tired.

Deace: You look at two numbers for you guys that have been bugaboo so far in the non-conference season. Early on, it was rebounding. The last few games it's been turnovers. You've had 64 turnovers in the first three road games. Last night, you win the rebounding battle by one against a team with a plethora of big men to throw at you and then you've got a 16 to 11 assisted turnover margin. I've got to believe that if you were able to maintain that for a conference season, you're going to win a lot of basketball games.

Sundvold: I think you're right. I think those are very interesting statistics especially the way we're playing. We're going to try to play up and down and fast. That might not always read on the scoreboard, as far as points but it does get into play as far as numbers of possessions. If we can win that assisted turnover battle and keep a very good rebounding team like Missouri at bay, we're going to have a chance.

If you look at Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, Will plays 36 minutes and has five assists and no turnovers in that ballgame. For a freshmen to be able to do that, Curtis has three assists and one turnover. We have a chance. These young guys are going to keep seeing it every week and how competitive and how tough this league is, but this is certainly a good confidence builder in how to play.

Deace: Let's take a look ahead to the game Saturday. Your sports information director people are telling me you're going to have a heck of a crowd there for Nebraska. It's a night game and the students will be back. They're off to a surprising start. They're 10 and 1 and they've notched some impressive, at least in terms of name recognition, some impressive non-conference wins, Arizona State, Minnesota, Tennessee. Those teams might not be playing up to their reputations, but those are probably not three games that when you look at Nebraska's schedule before the season you thought that they would win those games. So, obviously, Barry Collier has done a good job with the team this year. They always seem to play Iowa State tough. That should be an interesting game on Saturday night.

Sundvold: Well, we've had some very good games with Nebraska in the past and I think what you're seeing is that Barry Collier has been there for a few years and he now has his group in there. He has a group in there that's played together for three or four years. When you have that, you have a chance to start having an understanding of what it takes to win. They've certainly had some difficult times in the last couple years.

I think these guys are coming out this year and they're playing with a purpose and they have a great urgency. They've got five guys on their roster that can really shoot the basketball. They've got a couple guys that play really well inside and rebound. I think, Coach Collier has done a great job of handing out roles and these guys are accepting it and doing it.

Their leading scorer, Nate Johnson, is out of Kansas City and I've known him since junior high. He's their leading scorer, yet he's coming off the bench. You've got your best player accepting that kind of role. That's a great example to the rest of that squad. I think they're a team that's truly playing as a team. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We're in for a good game on Saturday.

Deace: How much momentum can a win against Missouri give you or in typical coach-speak are you going to say that we won't know until Saturday night?

Sundvold: I think that is typical. Our staff was in the office last night breaking down last night's film and looking ahead. The first thing we said was this was a good win, but it doesn't do you a lot of good unless you win your next game. The biggest game you have in the season is the next one at hand and Nebraska is going to be a huge game for us.

Deace: You're expecting a big crowd on Saturday night. Even though, at least in terms of numbers, what you were hoping for a conference opener, at least in terms of energy, last night's crowd was great up at Hilton as well. You guys have done such a great job recruiting. Obviously, I know you can't talk specifics about recruiting, but hypothetically speaking, if there happened to be a guy looking at Iowa State last night up at Hilton with that energy, I think that's exactly what they might be looking for in terms of college basketball atmosphere. The fans can play a role in recruiting, can't they?

Sundvold: I think they're huge. As they say in recruiting, you want to put your best foot forward and last night we had our shiny suit on and I think that that really looks good and that looks good on TV. We're already got a few phone calls from guys we've already signed and they've watched us on TV. Those guys are anxious to get here and be a part of it. I think it's a great part in selling your basketball program.

Deace: I think that playing three more years with Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson would be a nice selling point as well.

Sundvold: Well, wouldn't you like it if you weren't in a point position, but if you were a shooter or a wing and you're seeing these two guards handing out assists and playing the way they are, that's a pretty good selling point in itself.

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