On Campus With Brent Blum

I pride myself on understanding the game of basketball. Ever since I was a young pup, basketball has peaked my interest. I began religiously following the different intricacies of the sport since I was about 10. I thought the triangle and two defense was the coolest thing since Super Nintendo, and I loved the flex offense. I began taping games during the Eustachy era and have a collection of around 100 Iowa State games, including my favorite win over Missouri in 2000.

I pride myself on understanding the game of basketball. Ever since I was a young pup, basketball has peaked my interest. I began religiously following the different intricacies of the sport since I was about 10. I thought the triangle and two defense was the coolest thing since Super Nintendo, and I loved the flex offense. I began taping games during the Eustachy era and have a collection of around 100 Iowa State games, including my favorite win over Missouri in 2000. It was the most underrated game of that season. Tinsley absolutely dominated and recorded a triple-double in his first Big 12 game.

 

When I purchased a Tivo two years ago, my addiction to college basketball reached Ricky Williams status. I probably have Tivo'd every basketball game possible since then, and re-watched all of them. This practice raises many questions I'm sure, and no, surprisingly, I don't currently have a girlfriend. Shocking. That being the case, I have no idea what to think of this basketball team. None. They do things so unexplainable, Einstein would give himself a headache.  

 

The Cyclones are the quickest team from defense to offense in the nation. That isn't even a superlative. Memphis is a close second and UAB and Illinois also compete, but when ISU gets a steal, they are to the basket in under three seconds. They also are one of the best teams in the nation at trapping on the base-line and in corners. Watch next game and count how many times they initiate a trap, then find the percentage of time the play is disrupted by either A. a steal B. a travel/step out of bounds C. a time-out forced. It is remarkable.

 

Iowa State traps so quickly and with such swift hands, it reminds me of walking through the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. You are forced to make bad decisions, like that electronic scale I bought for my sister-in-law. I was panicked and wasn't thinking straight. Like operating against the ISU trap, there is no room to maneuver. For what it's worth, opening gifts is probably of the most uncomfortable situations we all have to conquer. You don't want to over-exaggerate your happiness, but also don't want to act upset. My sister-in-law gave me one of those looks after receiving the scale that you see on the playground when you are forced to take the last un-athletic kid in kick ball (who always happened to be reading a J.R. Tolkien book): "Oh sure, we'd love to have Tommy on our team, Tommy can play right field, and bat 17th. Welcome aboard Tommy." She acted happy, but goodness knows that scale was probably returned for a manicure or make-up or straight cash.

 

But, back to the point at hand. The Cyclones have a style I have rarely ever seen in college basketball. They literally have zero "classic" post men. In the Nebraska game the Clones had 67 possessions with the ball. (Yes, I'm a loser and charted the entire game) In those possessions they had one, yes one, post move with a player's back to the basket. It was Ross Marsden's turnaround jumper with 5:01 in the first half. That's simply unheard of. But, as the Nebraska game illustrated, if your guards are good enough and your big men at the very least can make lay-ups and rebound, you don't need post-moves (The Clones out-boarded the Huskers 33-25)

Last night I think Stinson and Blalock finally figured out that just because they don't have Homan inside; it doesn't mean they can't trust their teammates. When Stinson and Blalock think they have to do too much they get fidgety and force the issue. It's like asking that girl to prom, you can't pressure and attack when nothing's there, it's about patience and rhythm. You have to use all of your assets, even if you're not confident in them. That's precisely what they did against the Huskers.  

 

That was a fun team last night. I can't remember the last time I smiled while watching the Cyclones play. Well, last night I was grinning ear to ear. That's what it is supposed to be, thanks in large part to "Blue Collar." Stinson had a small scuffle with Joe McCray late in the game, but other than that, he was just playing ball. It was the Curtis Stinson we saw two years ago. A Stinson that didn't put his palms in the air, didn't discuss matters with the refs, didn't show-up his teammates. It was the Stinson we came to appreciate when he first arrived in Story County. Sure his 27 points, 6 assists, 5 boards, and 5 steals helped his likeability. But, even when he wasn't off to the best start, Stinson just sat back and relaxed letting Blalock, Neal, and Hubalek do their thing without getting frustrated.

 

Two plays set the story: At the end of the first half, Stinson was dribbling out the clock, and everyone and their momma's momma knew he was going to take the last shot. As the clock hit three ticks, Stinson pulled up and threw a lob pass to Blalock who drilled a three with no time remaining.

 

Then at the end of the game, Blalock gave the ball to Stinson, who dribbled out the clock. With his arch-enemy McCray hounding him, Stinson didn't dribble the ball behind his back or throw the ball toward the rafters. He simply jogged around McCray and when the clock hit zero he handed the ball to the official. Ballgame.

 

It's back to business for Stinson. It's back to business for the Cyclones.           


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