Blum: A Tough Pill to Swallow

Brent Blum talks about what exactly happened to the Cyclones in Des Moines on Saturday and what must be done to keep this from happening again.

This one was tough to swallow. Tell me again where I have seen this storyline? ISU controls the tempo and game for 85 percent of the time, making plays and looking like a ball club that can do some damage. However, they can't land the final knock out punch. Opponents seemingly can't do any wrong in the final 5 minutes, and the Cyclones are left on the short side of the stick. I thought the football regular season ended three weeks ago. The only thing missing was overtime and wayward kicks.

It is easy to forget these guys are only 20. Tonight is the perfect example of young guys trying to find their way. For Shawn Taggart, Jiri Hubalek, and Ross Marsden this was a new experience. They had never been in a tough game down the stretch against a quality team. It's like learning to ride a bike: one minute you are cruising down the side-walk with no hands, the next you are face-first into the concrete curb. (Ok…maybe that's just me) This game will do a lot more for them come Big 12 season, than a pasting of some random MEAC team.

Shawn Taggart should grow up a lot after tonight. Taggart was fantastic in the first half, reminding the 12,500 in attendance of a taller, less bulky Marcus Fizer, with his soft touch from 18 feet and in. He had 12 points at the break…he finished with 13. You can see why everyone raves about his potential, but also why he found himself on the bench in the final seconds. Offensively, he is better than Jared Homan was. Defensively, he's worse than Tyray Pearson.

But, he will get better. Not to make excuses for Taggart, but he hasn't been 100 percent all season. A viral infection caused him to lose roughly an Olson twin and he's also been battling a lower back/leg injury. He showed tonight a reason to be excited about his play in March and at the same time reminded everyone why very few freshman dominate early in the year.

It's up to Stinson and Blalock to carry the young guys in stretches like the one at the end of the game. Those two were a combined 2-6 shooting in the final six minutes, committed three turnovers and four fouls. And Ohio State finished like the veteran club they are. They had four seniors on the floor for crunch time: ISU had one in Anthony Davis (although he has only played in 20 career games.) Mediocre teams don't go into somebody's house and finish the game with an 18-4 run. They probably drank all the beer and stole some nachos too. The Buckeyes will be at least a five seed or above in the NCAA tournament when the dust settles, and ISU out-played them for 35 minutes.

Not to mention, Iowa State sustained the lead despite Ohio State's Je'Kel Foster.  Foster reenacted his best Clarence Gilbert (Mizzou 99-02) impression, scoring 28 points, making six of eight bombs. He had one shot hit the rim 12 different times before it fell through. It was like one of those old-school McDonald's commercials with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan: off the front of the rim, to the backboard, off the square, spin to the side, back off the glass, nothing but net. It seems like Iowa State has a way to let some dude go off for 25 plus in these types of games, nailing every thing in sight. Often times they played for Missouri: Clarence Gilbert, Rickey Paulding, Kareem Rush, Brian Grawer, Kelly Thames, Jason Sutherland, Anthony Peeler to name a few. Man, I couldn't stand those teams. 

 In the end, Iowa State was close. Really close. But as the saying goes, "Close only counts in horseshoes, grenades and restraining orders."(At least that's what it should say.) Fortunately for the Clones they get to nurse their wounds in Hawaii. This loss won't hurt so much after a couple of lei's (the flower kind.) Unfortunately, I can't join them.

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