Blum discusses the history of Cyclone basketball in Hawaii. Could this be the turning point in Iowa State's season? Check out what Blum thinks.
The island of Hawaii has been very friendly to the
Cyclone men's basketball team. It's no wonder why Wayne Morgan wanted to take
his team down to the warm waters. If Boise is the
evil-nemesis of Cyclone basketball, Hawaii is the Batman. By the way, I saw Tim
Burton's "Batman" for first time last week, and Jack Nicholson is still giving
me the shakes. I will never look at a deck of cards the same way. That dude was
Is he the best villain of all
time? You have this role, and the "Shining," "A Few Good Men," plus "About
Schmidt," which was frightful for a whole different reason besides Jack. (Kathy
Bates) I'm going with Nicholson as the Joker or Shooter McGavin in "Happy
Gilmore" as the best villain of all-time. However, I am open to suggestions.
But, back to the warm isles of Hawaii.
In their last six games down in
the state June Jones has conquered, the Cyclone ballers are 5-1. Although, they
haven't played in Hawaii since 2001 the fellas, much like their
meteorological compliments, fire up in the warmth of the Pacific.
Back in 1999, Iowa State was
reeling…big-time. The Cyclones had just begun the season after finishing 1998
with a .500 record, under second year coach Larry Eustachy. Fans were expecting
more of the same average play and wondered aloud about another long year. The
Cyclones made the long plane ride to Hawaii after dropping their opener at Drake
48-44. The Cyclone faithful were wondering if their flashy new point guard from
New York City
would be serviceable, after he went 1 of 11 from the field and turned the ball
over five times in the loss to Drake. Visions of previous guard experiments, Lee
Love, Rodney Hampton and Paris Corner, burned into their brains. His new
slightly-rotund running mate didn't ease fears either, as he was 2 of 13
shooting and had 5 turnovers himself. Little did Clone fans know, Jamaal Tinsley
and Kantrail Horton would be just fine.
The storm started brewing that
season in Hilo, Hawaii. The Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans were tied with
the Cyclones eight minutes into the first half, but ISU put the proverbial pedal
down and left them and three years of below-average Cyclone basketball in the
dust. Led by Marcus Fizer's 23 points and Tinsley's 7 assists, the Cyclones
cruised to a 108-72 win. It would be the start of something
The next game ISU was a big
underdog to a ranked Arkansas Razorback squad. The Cyclones hit 7 of 8 threes
and Kantrail Horton had 18 points to lead ISU to a 77-71 win and advance to the
final against #1 ranked Cincinnati and Kenyon Martin. The Clone scraped
and clawed against the Bearcats, pulling to within 5 points with two minutes to
play, but the Bearcats came out on top winning 75-60. Fizer matched Martin
blow-for-blow scoring 23 points, in what would be ISU's last loss in the next 14
games, and one of only four losses in the next 45 games, a streak that may never
be matched again.
The next year, ISU returned to
Hawaii for the Yahoo Sports Invitational after
getting trounced at Iowa. Seniors Jamaal Tinsley, Kantrail Horton,
Martin Rancik, and Paul Shirley were assisted by newcomer Jake Sullivan to give
ISU the title. Even freshmen Andrew Skoglund and Zach Fortune played big minutes
in the three wins. Tinsley was named MVP after wins over Troy State,
BYU, and Mississippi. Fortune hit two huge 3's and
scored 10 points against BYU to carry ISU. Sadly, not much more was heard from
Fortune. He had a falling out with Eustachy and he transferred to South Dakota following
that year. Tragically, he was killed in an auto accident in 2003. But, his three
games in Hawaii should be remembered by all Cyclone
Hawaii has a warm place in Iowa State basketball history and was the
turning point for both of those historic seasons. Maybe there is something
special in the waters of the Pacific, favorable to the development of Cyclones.
Here's hoping this year will be no different.