From the Balcony

Here it is, the first week of February and its time for teams to step up and prove their worthiness or crumble like a dried chocolate chip cookie. Can the Cyclones put together one of their February surges to draw them closer to make a case for the Big Dance? If they played like they did last Sunday against the Buffs with tough defense and tenacity on the boards they can.

It starts Wednesday at Manhattan vs. the Kansas St. Wildcats where Cartier Martin will look to improve on scoring only eight points in a loss last Saturday to Oklahoma St which has sent the Wildcats in a tailspin. They will also have to play without their coach as Jim Woolridge is undergoing surgery to relieve some discomfort in his neck.


Kansas St. is still 3rd in conference play in scoring defense only allowing 64.5ppg (ISU is 12th-77.1ppg), but the Cyclones lead the Big 12 in conference play scoring 79.4ppg. Someone will have to give. Bad thing is Kansas St is 2nd in the conference in FG% defense allowing .380% shooting while ISU is dead last at .498%. It may be a battle of 3-point shooting as the Wildcats again are strong on the defense and even shoot .388%. Iowa State shooting .370% from three but is 9th in 3 pt FG% defense allowing .397%. Maybe that's why my stomach churns every time I see a three go up.


After a game in Manhattan the Cyclones will come back to the land of OZ on Saturday to face the hottest team in the league, the Kansas Jayhawks. The Clones will look to avenge a loss at Hilton a little over a week ago. Not many people outside Jayhawk land would've thought this KU team might finish better in the conference that last year's team with Miles, Simeon, Lankford and Giddens. Kansas has not finished below 5th since the Big 12 was formed and they have not finished below .500 in conference play since 1989, the last year they missed the NCAA tournament.


One thing is for sure at Allen Fieldhouse in the Big 12, when a South team comes to play, they will leave with an L. So far Kansas is 29-0, that's right 29-0 vs the South division teams since the start of Big 12 play and should run it to 30-0 as Baylor comes to Allen later this month. The key stat against OU last weekend, Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout were a combined 1-2 from the free throw line. The Sooners were only six of seven for the entire game. That's home cooking.


What about the North teams you say, well ISU fans we can pump our chests as in Big 12 play the Cyclones have won three times, Missouri, Nebraska and this year Kansas State have one each. Oh get this; KU was only 2-12 on 3's last week with Chalmers and Robinson going 0-5. You think that will happen this week when ISU comes to town?  Yeah me neither!! Oh well, go get'em!


Cheer for the Hawkeyes.

Yes, you heard me. Right now in looking at the schedule, winning over the Iowa Hawkeyes was the biggest win of the year. Now in football its still ok to cheer for whoever plays Iowa because in beating them and they turning around and losing games doesn't affect our RPI because there isn't one. The Hawks (18-5) and UNI (20-4) both lead their respective conferences. Only one other ISU win over another team has that team in first place and that is Northwestern St (15-6, 8-1) of the Southland Conference. All together, in ISU's non-conference wins, those teams' records are 100-96 which is 51%.

The worst lost obviously is Fresno State (11-10) who again lost last night to Idaho who is 4-16. How did we lose that won at home??!!! Iona (16-5, 10-3) is still on top of the MAAC despite losing a game this week.


By comparison when you are RPI watching like I do, you look at a couple teams similar to yours. I see Indiana (13-6) and Wisconsin (15-7) being teams on the bubble. Indiana's non-conference wins have those teams' records being 66-80, 46%. Their bad loss was at Indiana State (9-12). Wisconsin's non-conference wins are slightly stronger with those teams going 93-84 for 53%. But they have lost to Wake Forest (12-10), Purdue (8-13) and the shocker, at home to North Dakota State (13-10) who is moving from Div II to Div I. The Hawks play at Indiana this Saturday. Go Hawks??


Ranking as of 2-7-06


1) Texas (8-1)-(2/11-Nebr) PJ Tucker got his 9th double-double of the year last night, which is 2nd in the Big 12. Rick Barnes's Longhorns are 63-5 vs. in state opponents.

2) Kansas (6-2)-(2/8@Nebr., 2/11-ISU)- KU's 23-5 run against the Sooners in the last 7:51 have made everyone believers. Do not see them finishing less than third in the conference as they've held their last five opponents to under 40% FG shooting.

3) Oklahoma (5-3)-(2/8@OSU, 2/11-Baylor)- SR Kevin Bookout became the 34th player in school history to score 1,000 points. OU's Big 12 losses have been by a combined four points. Will be an upset if lose at OSU but won't be surprised.

4) Colorado (5-3)-(2/8@A&M, 2/11-Tech)- The Buffs have won 8 of 10 meeting vs the Aggies. Richard Roby had been averaging 21ppg but was held to just 10 in a loss at Iowa State last Sunday. Don't see them losing this spot this week.

5) Iowa State (4-4)-(2/8@KSU, 2/11@KU)- Must win road games this week for the Cyclones. Curtis Stinson is averaging 25.8ppg over last five. Play better with their backs against the wall and its there.

6) Nebraska (5-3)-(2/8-KU, 2/11@Texas)- If they split this week, will move them back to fifth. Huskers have done a great job since losing McCray. NU's 5 wins at the beginning of the conference season matches best start since 1999.

7) Texas A&M (3-6)-(2/8-Col, 2/11-OSU)- Now since the worst week is over, Aggies can show if they want to stay in the race or not with two home games. In 51 games under Billy Gillispie the Aggies have allowed only five teams to shoot better than 48%.

8) Oklahoma State (3-5)-(2/8 OU, 2/11@A&M)- I'm stretching with the Cowboys because I feel that an Eddie Sutton coached team can't finish worse than 8th, can they? Soph Marcus Dove returned from a hip injury that has sidelined him since December 22nd. He started and had 4 points, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. OSU have won three of last five vs Sooners.

9) Texas Tech (4-5)-(2/11@Col)- Against the top teams the Red Raiders have not faired well, too bad Bobby Knight. Attendance still remains around 7800 in a 15,000 seat arena. Cyclones shouldn't have lost to this team!

10) Kansas State- (3-5)-(2/8-ISU, 2/12@MU)- six of seven Wildcat losses this season have been by five points or less. Cartier Martin has had 20 points or more in ten games this year. If Wildcats want to finish in top half of the conference they must win both games this week.

11) Missouri-(3-6)-(2/7@Baylor, 2/12-KSU)- Anyone else going to be cheering for the Bears tonight?! Trouble in paradise as Thomas Gardner who was averaging over 20ppg in conference play only scored 2 last Saturday as Synder kept him out most of the game.

12) Baylor- (1-7)-(2/7-Missu, 2/11@OU)- Hooray for the Bears!! They won for the first time in twenty games over KSU last week. Under Scott Drew the Bears are 3-0 in overtime games.


From the restroom:

Heard on Wayne Morgan's show last night that incoming recruit Cory Johnson from Minnesota broke his schools scoring record once held by former Golden Gopher Rick Rickerts. Strange thing is Rick Rickerts had broken Cory's father's record, which had broken Rick Rickerts father's record. Wonder if they have sons either would move back to keep the tradition alive?


Juco watch. I've been keeping tabs on a speedy point guard from Indian Hills in Ottumwa. Jamaal Smith is a 5'10" lightening quick guard who is having one hell of a season for the Warriors. His Indian Hills team is 21-3 and last weekend beat Southeastern for the first time in four years. He lead all scorers, which he has done many times this year, with 26 points connecting on four three pointers but also 10-12 from the free throw line. On the year Smith has made 75 three point baskets, a little over three per game. He has made six three point baskets in a couple games this year. He is also and excellent free throw shooting connecting on over 82%.    





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