Cyclone Chatter 03/20/17

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Following an 80-76 loss to Purdue in the Round of 32 we have to say goodbye to our beloved Cyclone seniors. Monte Morris, Matt Thomas, Naz Mitrou-Long, Deonte Burton, Darrell Bowie, Merrill Holden, Stu Nezlek, all gone. It is the end of an era, an era that included 3 Big 12 Championship titles, trips to March Madness every year, and two Sweet 16’s. We saw Monte Morris bloom into a superstar and a Cyclone legend. We witnessed Naz Mitrou-Long improve from a freshman with little minutes into an all Big 12 player and great three-point shooter. Matt Thomas went from an unconfident freshmen to a consistent shooter right in front of our eyes. We saw flashes of Deonte Burton in his junior season but never saw what he could fully do until he was on the biggest stage. He scored 31 points to win at Kansas and 25 points in the final game of the season, nonetheless the country saw what he can do.

 

Not only did these student athletes grow as players but they all grew as people. Monte Morris put together a fundraiser with Hy-Vee to send semi-trucks full of bottled water back to his hometown Flint, Michigan during their water crisis. In Matt Thomas’ free time he goes to schools to talk about the dangers of drunk driving as he learned from his mistakes. Naz Mitrou-Long grew into the leader of this team and was a always a fan favorite. Steve Prohm has said many times that Deonte Burton he has changed for the better since he walked on campus. These men showed nothing but class as the represented Iowa State university.

 

Even though none of these men will wear the Cardinal & Gold ever again that does not mean this is an end to Iowa State Basketball. But if there is one thing this team knows it is that they left this program in a better spot than when they got here. Steve Prohm has the best recruiting class in school history coming in to pair with Donovan Jackson, Solomon Young, and Nick Weiler-Babb. Even though one era has come to a close, we look forward to the new one to start.

Cyclone Chatter 03/16/17

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As the round of 64 is starting, Big 12 Champs Iowa State will finish out the last of the Thursday games. The Cyclones will be taking on the Mountain West conference champs and 12 seed Nevada in Milwaukee. This game should be high scoring and fast pace, with KenPom statistics showing that Nevada plays the 87th fastest pace in college basketball. That obviously matches Iowa State’s style of running and gunning. They also go toe to toe with Iowa State in 3PT shooting, with Iowa State ranking 12th nationally, meanwhile Nevada ranks 32nd.  

 

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

This tournament is the last run for this group of Seniors which includes Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas, Deonte Burton, Darrell Bowie, and Merrill Holden. It’s been an impressive run, especially for Monte, Matt, and Naz. This group of guys has made the tournament every year they have been here and are looking to reach their 3rd sweet sixteen. But first, they are focused on getting to the Round of 32. Monte Morris stated “We’re not looking over Nevada, we kinda looked over UAB.” ISU will not be overlooking Nevada and are cautious as they prepare.

 

This team has bigger plans than just winning a game. If the cards align, they have the opportunity to get back to Kansas City and reinvent Hilton South against Kansas. This team can accomplish so much and it all starts tonight with Nevada.

 

Obviously with the Mountain West championship title, Nevada has some good players. Their team is headlined by forward Cameron Oliver. Martin a potential NBA draft pick, is averaging 15.8 points, and 9 rebounds per game. He loves to crash the offensive glass so Solomon Young and Deonte Burton need to prepare to be in a war downlow. They also have a stellar guard named Marcus Marshall who averages 19.8 points and 3.4 assists per game.

 

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

My prediction is that Deonte Burton will play a game for the ages in his return home to Milwaukee. These seniors have been there and done that and don’t have a problem with the trendy upset pick Nevada.

 

Cyclones 91- Nevada 80

Cyclone Chatter 03/09/17

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jakebrend

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cyclones.com

Oh boy, right now you do not want to play Monte Morris and the Cyclones. Monte Morris was left off as a finalist for the Bob Cousy award which is given to the nation’s best point guard. We all know he was robbed and he knows it also. He came into today’s game with a giant chip on his shoulder and nearly had another triple-double. Monte finished with 21 points, 9 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He led Iowa State to a win over Oklahoma State by a score of 92-83 and showed the nation why he deserved to be a finalist.

 

Outside of Morris everyone scored except Holden. Darrell Bowie had his best game of the season with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and a lot of dirty work. Burton had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Matt Thomas and Naz Mitrou-Long continued their hot shooting with Thomas going 3-6 from three leading to 13 points and Naz went 3-8 with 14 points. Donovan Jackson also had 6 points with two big three’s in the second half. As a team the Cyclones shot 53% from the field and 50% from three with 21 assists.

 

Up next for Iowa State is Kansas or TCU. We will probably see Kansas tomorrow at 6 with a trip to the Big 12 championship on the line.

Cyclone Chatter 03/09/17

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jakebrend

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With conference tournaments fully underway Iowa State kicks off their action with an 11:30 tip on Thursday morning at Hilton South. They are taking on a very familiar opponent, Oklahoma State. A team ISU only has to turn the calendar one week back to find the last time they played, having last met on Iowa State’s senior night in a highly entertaining game that ended up as a shootout that Iowa State won 86-83. Matt Thomas tied his career high of 25 and knocked down seven three’s, while OSU’s Jawun Evans had 29 for the Cowboys. Iowa State also beat them on the road earlier in the season by 10 points.

 

Both of these teams are safely in the NCAA Tournament and will just be fighting for seeding in Kansas City. As of right now both teams would either be a 6 or 7 seed in the tournament, with the possibility of getting up to a 5 seed.

 

Other than losing to Kansas nothing has changed for OSU since last week’s game. They are coming in with two players scoring over 17 point per game game. Those players are Jawun Evans who is averaging 18.7 points and Jeffrey Carroll who is averaging a very good 17.3 points. And that doesn’t even include sharpshooter Phil Forte III who shoots 43% from three while he scores 13 points per game.

 

After an 0-6 start to conference play Brad Underwood’s squad has bounced back by finishing 9-9 in the second toughest conference in all of college basketball. During that stretch they are averaging an astonishing 89 points per game and have climbed up to the number one ranked offensive team in the nation. Look for this to be yet another shootout for Iowa State.

 

 Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

ISU’s senior class has the chance to accomplish something no other class in Iowa State history has done. They have the chance to win three conference tournaments, something Jeff Grayer, Gary Thompson, Fred Hoiberg, Marcus Fizer, Jamaal Tinsley, or even Georges Niang failed to accomplish. This team will be on a mission this week to try and make history.

 

This is a tough game to predict because you don’t know how Oklahoma State will respond coming off of back to back losses. Although Oklahoma State is still very hot I think Iowa State is equally hot. With the spirit of Cyclone Nation behind them in Hilton South, the Cyclones squeak out a close victory in a high scoring game.

 

Iowa State 91- Oklahoma State 90

 

Cyclone Chatter 03/03/17

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jakebrend

Tonight Iowa State travels into Morgantown to take on West Virginia. The last matchup did not fare well for Iowa, as they lost by 13 at home to the Mountaineers. Since that dreadful matchup in late January the Cyclones have bounced back in the most unimaginable way possible. They ended Kansas’ 53 game home winning streak and knocked off #9 Baylor en route to a 7-1 February. Clearly Iowa State has caught fire at the right time and is not the same team as they were just one month ago. West Virginia has won 5 out of 7 with their losses on the road against Kansas and Baylor.

What this game means for Iowa State:

Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports

Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports

Currently, Iowa State is alone in second place and would clinch second place with a win. However, if they were to lose they would be tied for second with West Virginia and potentially Baylor. If Baylor beat Texas they would enter into a three-way tie for second, in this scenario Iowa State would get the short end of the stick and get the 4th seed in the Big 12 tournament. This would not be the ideal situation for Iowa State because their road to the Big 12 Championship would be Oklahoma State and Kansas. But if Texas beats Baylor Iowa State will get third.

About West Virginia:

They have not changed a whole lot since we saw them last, they are still playing their hardball press style and are still a top 10 team nationally. West Virginia is ranked 6th in defensive efficiency according to Kenpom and 30th in offensive efficiency, clearly they are a very elite team and will pose a big threat to Iowa State. They still average the most turnovers forced in the nation with 21 per game which is an astonishing 4 more than the second most. Like many years past, Iowa State will again have to break the press and limit turnovers.

Players to Watch:

Nathan Adrian- If you just look at the stats you will think Adrian is a good player and no more than that. But when watch him play he is great, he is the guy on the court who does all of the dirty work for WV by grabbing big rebounds, altering shots, and hitting big shots. By doing all of this he is the energy guy who gets the crowd going. If Iowa State wants to keep the crowd silenced they will have to limit the loose balls and fast breaks he starts.

Deonte Burton- Burton is the X-factor who will likely be assigned to Adrian, Burton will get his own on the offensive end but will need to keep his ground on the defensive end of the floor. I think this is one of the games that good Burton shows up and plays great. A bold prediction for me is that Burton scores 30 points.

Final Verdict

With second place on the line I think this group of seniors shows up with a different type of aggression in this game. The starting five plays great and Iowa State takes home second place in the Big 12 behind a giant performance on the road from Burton.

Iowa State 71- West Virginia 70

Cyclone Chatter 02/28/17

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Tonight Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas, Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden, Darrell Bowie, and Stuart Nezlek will suit up one last time at Hilton Coliseum. These men have put their blood, sweat, and tears into this game and for the cardinal and gold.

 

USATSI

USATSI

The trio of Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, and Matt Thomas have been here for 4 years (Naz has been 5) and have played in the golden age of Iowa State basketball. They played for Fred Hoiberg for two years and for Steve Prohm for two. They made it to 2 sweet sixteens, won the Big 12 tournament twice, and racked up many milestones that will forever live in the Iowa State history books. These players played with Cyclone legends Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim. They played with players that will always be remembered in Cyclone fan’s hearts such as Deandre Kane, Jameel McKay, Dustin Hogue, Chris Babb, Tyrus McGee, Korie Lucious, Abdel Nader, and Will Clyburn.

 

There may never be another group of seniors like this to accomplish this much. The Big 3 all have scored 1,000 career points, Monte Morris broke the school’s assist and steal record, and Naz Long hit some of the biggest shots in school history. We saw Matt Thomas go from a struggling underclassmen to an improved all-around player who thrived in his junior and senior season through hard work. We saw Naz Mitrou-Long develop into the team’s emotional leader, getting them through the bad times and into the great times. This group all played roles in the “Cardiac Clones” streak where they came back from double digits in five straight games en route to a Big 12 championship.
Thanks also goes out to Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden, and Darrell Bowie for giving it all they had in the short tenure they were here. It isn’t easy changing school’s and locations in such a short span of time but they all handled the transition well, and hopefully they can go all the way in their last run as student athletes. And last but not least, Stuuuuuuuuuu, the beloved walk-on who knows his role on the team and embraces every moment he gets in a game and working hard. Tuesday will be the last time the Hilton crowd will witness this era of Cyclone basketball, embrace it Cyclone nation because we don’t know how fast it can go. Embrace what these seniors accomplished and how hard they worked. And as they walk off the court one last time give them a final, heartfelt thank you.

Cyclone Chatter 02/27/17

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I am sure most of you saw Iowa State’s win over Baylor on Saturday but that might not of been the biggest win of the weekend. The women’s team was in desperate need of a win to get into the NCAA tournament and on Friday night, they answered. The Cyclones went on the road to #6 Texas and won a game that boosts their tournament hopes greatly. The Cyclones were led by Senna Johnson with 22 and Bridget Carlton with 18 after she sealed the win with two free throws. The men and women are both following a similar path as of right now. The women have won 4 in row and 5 out of 6. Meanwhile, the men have won 5 in a row and 6 out of 7. The girls have a chance to get to .500 in the conference and 18-11 on the season with a win against Oklahoma State on senior night.

 

Michael Zamora/The Register

Michael Zamora/The Register

The win for the women was big but so was the win for the men’s program. Iowa State knocked off #9 Baylor in a mini-upset considering the fact that Iowa State was favored. Nonetheless it was still a big win whether they were favored or not. The game started out with Iowa State shooting a blistering 70% from the field through the first 10 minutes but gave up offensive rebounds and second chance points left and right. After going back and forth they went into halftime tied at 36. Baylor came out of the second half fast and got a six point lead but that was the largest their lead ever got. Iowa State followed up with a little run and tied it. At nearly the 8 minute mark Solomon Young made the play of the game by blocking Nuni Omot’s shot. This then led to a Donovan Jackson three in the the corner off of a dish from Darrell Bowie to put Iowa State up 5 (https://twitter.com/JoeJHoyt/status/835638986148360194). Baylor would not regain the lead for the rest of the way and Iowa State knocked off Baylor 72-69. Iowa State shot 57% from the field and 53% from three, led by Deonte Burton who had 22 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Monte Morris had a stellar second half with 12 points down the stretch, his full stat line was 17 points, 7 assists, and ZERO turnovers. Solomon Young had another solid game with 11 points but what he did in paint defensively is what stood out.

 

Up next for ISU WBB- Oklahoma State, Monday 7 PM, Hilton Coliseum

Up next for ISU MBB- Oklahoma State, Tuesday 8 PM, Hilton Coliseum

Cyclone Chatter 02/24/17

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Baylor travels to Ames to take on Iowa State, in what may be the biggest game of the season for ISU. The game will be televised on ESPN at 3 PM. Baylor is ranked 9th in the nation, 2nd in the Big 12, is coming off of a 6 point win at home against Oklahoma and have won 8 of their last 12 games. Meanwhile, Iowa State is coming off a two point overtime win at Texas Tech and is 7-5 in their last 12. In the last matchup, Baylor beat Iowa State after the Cyclones dominated most of the game.

 

About Baylor

 

Baylor is coming in with 23-5 ranking and their 9 ranking demonstrates how tough of a team they are. Iowa State has never been a strong matchup for Baylor because they are a team built with size and big men. They have a front court of 6-10 beast, Johnathan Motley and 7 seven footer Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. This duo combines for 26.4 points per game, 16.5 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game. They also have an impressive point guard who can run the show in Manu Lecomte who averages a solid 12.8 points on 43% from the field and 42% from three and 4 assists. This is one of the all around best teams in the country and should prove to be a real test for the Cyclones.

 

Players to watch

 

Johnathan Motley- This guy will pose a problem in the paint, just like he has his whole career. This season Motley is averaging an absurd stat line of 17 points and nearly 10 rebounds, all on great efficiency of 52% from the field. Those numbers prove why he is a Wooden Award candidate for national player of the year. He also plays great defense at 6’10 and 230 pounds. Solomon Young will have to do all he can to keep Motley under control.

 

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Solomon Young- I believe Solomon will be the X-factor of this game, mainly because he will be matched up against Motley. Since entering the starting lineup, Iowa State has not lost a game due to his impressive rebounding and ability to alter shots in the lane. The key for him will be staying out of foul trouble and being able to contain Baylor’s inside.

 

Final Verdict  

With this being the most anticipated game of the season for Iowa State I definitely think the fans will pack Hilton and have great support for the game. Iowa State has a lot to gain in this game and I think they will pull this off by holding Motley just enough. On the offensive end Monte leads the way with 23 points and 9 assists.
Iowa State 81- Baylor 77

Cyclone Chatter 02/23/17

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I think it is finally safe to say that Iowa State is officially a lock for the NCAA tournament. Now that we are  confident in that, let’s look at some scenario’s that could possibly play out and what those would mean for Iowa State’s seeding.

 

Chris Jorgensen/Iowa State Daily

Chris Jorgensen/Iowa State Daily

Win Out + Win Big 12 Tournament

This scenario is probably the least likely to play out. The hardest piece of this is not winning the Big 12 Tournament, but instead going into Morgantown and winning. If this unlikely scenario were to play out, there is the possibility this could get Iowa State up to a 3 seed. Even if this didn’t get a 3 seed it would almost be a guarantee they would get a 4. Winning out would include wins against Baylor in the regular season and Kansas in Kansas City..

 

Lose @ West Virginia + Win Big 12 Tournament

This is a more likely scenario but it is still a long shot. However, It wouldn’t surprise me if they did make a run in the Big 12 because these seniors have done it before. If this played out I think Iowa State would get a 4 or a 5 seed due to the quality wins.

 

Lose @ West Virginia + Get to Big 12 Championship but lose to Kansas

This is the most likely scenario in my eyes. It would mean Iowa State would close out the season 9-3 with wins against Kansas, Baylor, and either West Virginia or Baylor again. Pulling this off has the potential to raise Iowa State to at least a six seed and as high as a five. Don’t be surprised to see this scenario as the one we are talking about on Selection Sunday.

 

Lose vs Baylor, @ West Virginia, and second game in Big 12

If Iowa State were to lose against BU and WV it would drop them to 4th in the Big 12. Iowa State would move on to play Kansas on the Friday of the tournament with the odds stacked against them. If this scenario plays out, it would put them on either the 7 line or the 8 line. Obviously this scenario is not ideal.

 

Lose Remaining Regular Season, make it to 2nd or 3rd game in KC

Although this is not a very likely scenario, it could play out if they catch the right matchup. Iowa State would be looking at an 8 seed because of the home losses but not drop them too far because of the wins in KC.

 

Lose Out

This the worst case scenario and I will be devastated if it happens. If this nightmare happens, it’s possible that Iowa State could drop to a 10 or 11 seed.

 

Here’s to hoping for the best scenario to play out and for Iowa State to shine bright on selection Sunday!

Cyclone Chatter 02/16/17

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When a big road win was needed, the Cyclones answered. Iowa State was a half game out of 3rd place coming into the game against Kansas State, but left Manhattan tied for 3rd with West Virginia.

 

Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

In a way, this game followed the same path as the first meeting with Kansas State in Ames. They were up as much as 19 after a fast start but let the lead slip away. However, Iowa State prevailed by not letting K-State get back in the game completely. After K-State pulled within 6 Iowa State quickly answered and closed the game out, winning 87-79.

 

The player of the game is an easy decision, Solomon Young. Solomon got his second career start and he took advantage of it with 18 points and 13 rebounds. 8 of his rebounds were on the offensive end, more than Iowa State as a team has had in the whole month of February. In addition to Solomon this was arguably the most balanced scoring attack we have seen all season. Deonte Burton had 17 points, Naz had 16, Morris with 15, and Thomas capped off the scorers with 14 points.

 

Additional notes

* Monte Morris had one steal tonight, moving him within two of Jeff Hornacek and the school record

* Iowa State has now won 4 road games in Big 12 play in comparison to winning only 3 Big 12 games away from home last year.

* The Cyclones made 22 out of their 26 free throws, well above their season mark of 66%.

* Matt Thomas hit two out of the three threes he shot, improving to 27 made three’s out of 45 in his last six games.

 

Next Up: Iowa State takes on TCU at home on Saturday at 5:00