On Campus

The game against Oklahoma was indicative of the entire season of Iowa State basketball. Iowa State illustrated that they can compete with one of the best teams in the conference and showcased their great backcourt. At the end of the day, despite controlling tempo and having the superior athletes, the Cyclones ended up with a loss. The Sooners were just another chapter in Iowa State's indelibly frustrating season.

The game against Oklahoma was indicative of the entire season of Iowa State basketball. Iowa State illustrated that they can compete with one of the best teams in the conference and showcased their great backcourt. At the end of the day, despite controlling tempo and having the superior athletes, the Cyclones ended up with a loss. The Sooners were just another chapter in Iowa State's indelibly frustrating season.  

 

If you think you have seen that performance before this season, you would be correct. I halfway expect Bill Murray to walk out during the second half in tonight's game and start filming Groundhog Day. Iowa State gets lead, they struggle to maintain lead, and they lose lead in last minutes. The Cyclones play games like the Chicago Cubs. They have a great top of the rotation, some solid bats, but no closer. It all started in the game against EA Sports way back in November.  With the game tied at 53 and 6 minutes on the clock, the Cyclones went into a Corey Patterson like slump. They didn't make a field goal the rest of the game, going 0-12 from the field and to make matters worse, they had 5 turnovers. They lost.

         

Oh, but that was just EA Sports, this group would learn how to close out games, we all thought. For crying out loud, they have one of the best clutch players in ISU history with Stinson. He single-handedly won the Georgia, Missouri, Texas and Kansas games in the last minutes during games in his freshman year, and finished off Virginia at home and Nebraska and Kansas on the road in his sophomore year. This guy closed games like Mariano Rivera. Unfortunately, he turned into LaTroy Hawkins for year three. The ineptitude of the Cyclone "bullpen" continued.

          Let's take a look:

          Team                              Led By                      Won/Lost by

         

Portland State                             14 (13:00 left)         Won by 8

          Iona                                 Tied (12:00 left)       Lost by 17

          Fresno                              6 (12:00 left)           Lost by 7

          Ohio St.                            8 (6:40 left)            Lost by 3

          Colorado St.                      17 (15:00 left)         Won by 7

          Tenn. St.                          13 (12:00 left)       W8, lead down to 3 with 1:00

          K-State                            13 (6:30 left)           Won by 2

          Texas                               Down 1 (17:00 left)   Lost by 20

          Texas Tech                       7 (12:00 left)           Lost by 3

          Texas A&M                        10 (17:00) 4 (0:50)   Lost by 5 (OT)

          K-State                            5 (13:00) 2 (2:00)    Lost by 3

          Nebraska                          Tied (11:00)            Lost by 10

          Oklahoma                          11(7:00) 7 (1:10)     Lost by 1

 

On the other hand, you have to give the Clones credit for holding strong against UNI, South Florida and @Nebraska, as well as coming back against Northwestern St., but the struggles far outweigh the successes. Why has this happened? I'm not real sure. Iowa State needs to hire Wesley Snipes' character in Blade to give them that killer instinct. Don't mess with Wesley Snipes. (Anyone remember Willie Mays Hayes in Major League? He was my favorite movie athlete of all time.)

 

Perhaps Curtis and Will try to do too much in the closing minutes. Curtis has missed game-winning or tying shots against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and at K-State in conference play. That's not quite the same clutch player we have come accustomed to. You can't blame him for not trusting his teammates, but whatever he is doing isn't getting the job done. I want Stinson with the ball in the closing seconds, but I don't want a whirling dervish one hand scoop shot from 17 feet, while being double teamed.

 

The reason why Stinson often had the opportunity to win games in his early years is because guys like Jake Sullivan and Jared Homan received equal attention and drew defenders away from him. This year everyone knows Stinson will get the rock.

 

I recall the 1996 NBA Finals when MJ and the Bulls beat the Jazz in Game 6 to win their fifth title (the first of two times they met in the NBA finals). It was all tied with 5 seconds to play. Jordan took the in-bounds pass dribbled left, taking the entire Utah Jazz defense with him. He realized this and swung the ball to Smokin' Steve Kerr, who promptly drilled the game winning three. Iowa State doesn't have a Kerr on their team, but they do have guys who can nail open looks.

 

Maybe Capt. Morgan tells Stinson to take it on his broad shoulders in every instance, but that doesn't mean he has to. In the Northwestern St. game, Curtis was in trouble with 10 seconds to play and tossed it to Ross Marsden who made ISU's only game-winning shot of the year. Funny how that works sometimes.  

 

The gut-wrenching thing is this team has been in every ballgame they have played. They have led or been tied in the second half in all but 2 games. The Cyclones could within reason be 8-4 instead of 4-8 in conference. They just don't have Billy Wagner in the pen.

 

They better find a closer quickly and win the Big 12 tourney, or they will end up watching the World Baseball Classic and playing NIT games come March.  


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