On Campus: You Get What You Get

Greg McDermott and Mike Taylor will forever be linked. They are the definition of an odd couple. McDermott plays the role of the methodical perfectionist, carefully calculating and constructing how to best utilize his team. Taylor, on the contrary, plays the role of the eccentric creator, shooting from the hip and seemingly having little regard for life, limb, or possession of the basketball.

McDermott is the meatloaf and potatoes and Taylor is the French Silk pie. And like any complete meal, both rely on each other for balance and functionality.


Michael Taylor was the first player targeted after Greg McDermott took control of the ISU sled in March. He was the first commit under G-Mac's watch.


Ever since Taylor stepped on campus he has been the straw that stirs the Cyclone drink. As he goes, so do the Cyclones. Sometimes that drink is mixed to perfection and other times it is spilled down Iowa State's collective shirt.


Taylor has had stretches of brilliance. In his first six minutes in a Cyclone uniform against UC-Riverside, Mikey T recorded ten points and three rebounds. He would finish with 22 points, second only to Ron Harris for most points from a Cyclone in his debut. He also added seven rebounds and three assists.


His 25 point second half performance at Minnesota was the most impressive streak from a Cyclone guard since Dedric Willoughby's first half against Kansas in 1995, when Willoughby erupted for five threes and 19 points.


Taylor followed up his second half heroics against Minnesota with an even more ridiculous first half against Lake Superior State.


In those 20 minutes, the human bouncy ball scored 22 first half points, made his first six long range bombs and also dished out seven assists. You won't witness a better offensive spectacle in a half from anybody in college basketball this year.


I'm not a mathematician, but add those two halves of basketball together and Mr. T ties Barry Stevens for the Cyclone record of most points scored in a non-overtime game. He is the shorter, right-handed version of Lafester. Here is what his line would have looked like:


39 minutes, 16-25 FG, 12-15 3 PT FG, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 47 points.     


Not bad for a kid playing in his first few games at Iowa State.


However, that is not the entire Taylor story. There is a ying to this yang.


When Mike isn't putting on an offensive show, he is firing passes off of basket supports, sliding his pivot foot, or getting called for the infamous Milwaukee carry.


In his first half in the Cardinal and Gold, Mike was responsible for seven turnovers. Against Norfolk State, he tied an ISU record. This one wasn't as glamorous. His 11 turnovers against Norfolk tied him with "Turnover" Terry Woods for most turnovers in a game. At times, there is a bit too much frosting on his cake.


Through eight games, Taylor has committed 48 turnovers. His 6 turnovers per game are most in the entire nation. He is on pace to commit 192 turnovers this season and, if he continues at this rate, he will obliterate the Cyclone record. The ISU record is 156 by Jamaal Tinsley in 2000 and Tinsley played in almost 40 games. To put things in more recent perspective, Curtis Stinson didn't even break the 100 turnover mark last season.


It is no coincidence that when Taylor struggles, so does Iowa State.


Taylor is a unique breed. He can't sit still and is always smiling. In warm-ups he launches shots from 35 feet and more often than not they go in. I can't think of an ISU player quite like him. He is bigger than Ron Bayless, quicker than Mike Nurse, penetrates better than Dedric, shoots it better than Justus Thigpen and Jamaal, and he is more erratic than Tim Barnes. Perhaps the best way to describe him is he is everything Jacy Holloway wasn't.


Although I, and Coach McDermott for that matter, would love to see Mike calm down a bit on his spastic play, he is an absolute blast to watch. Taylor enjoys the game and it shows.


Next time you go to Hilton just keep your eyes on Taylor. He is a reality show in and of himself. Part of what is great about college sports is the mystery of the unknown.


And as Forrest Gump once said, "Mike Taylor is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get."




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