Saturday, January 29, 2005

Keeping the pressure on

The Cyclone women won another impressive road game, dumping the Sooners in Norman.

Kansas State won again, so they remain even in the standings. They are clearly the cream of the north, and having split their series, are now dependent on A) winning out agiainst the North and B) how they do against the South.

That will be a fun ride the rest of the way.

Getting a bye in KC is the secondary goal here. The Cyclones definately have a shot at the title, but they need to beat Tech in Lubbock and get some help with KSU. But the bye, along with the friendly ISU crowd that decends on KC, will give them a great shot at the tourney title.

Anne O'Neal is 2 points shy of 1,000. Wow. Not bad for a transfer.

If only she AND Robinette had started out in Ames like their gut told them too.


Throw another log on the fire

This game will only encourage the Morgan haters.

Oh-fur from 3. Outrebounded again. Only 6 players scored. Terrible- 56%- free throw shooting. The press gave up what felt like 15 dunks and layups. They're still in last place.

Clearly the man can't coach. He's lost the team. The long term future is bleak.

Just another Hilton Saturday where the undermanned Cyclones dump a ranked team on it's butt. Go figure.

They play like that the last two games, people are talking NCAA's.

Bottle the pregame speech, man. Shower in it in Austin next Saturday.

Be sure to beat Baylor first, to put some distance detween you and last place.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

This explains some things

My wife- a big football fan- often remarks that football is a dumb man's game. Most smart folks wouldn't subject themselves to teh abuse. It also explains why players rough the quarterback on 3rd and 27. They are, at the end of the day, dumb.

Which explains ISU's improvement on the football field over the last few years. McCarney's staff has learned one lesson over all others: to win, you must recruit dumber players.

We at CSJ aren't surprised. Our casual observation is that winning football requires a higher concentration of knuckleheads than exist in the general population. It's a cost of doing business.

But if McCarney insists on suspending guys who get in trouble, he is unilaterally disarming. There are two choices in "Big Tiime Football": Recruit the academically inept and those who have goonish tendencies, and win; or, bring in well-scrubbed smart kids who still know how to put on a theigh pad, and lose. Florida or Vandy. You can't go half way. It doesn't work. ISU is trying that, and it's ultimately doomed to failure.

Which means we at CSJ have a constant love/hate relationship with "Big Tiime Football". We are the first to admit it is corrupt to the stinking core, yet we want to win at it as much as the next guy. We cherish the "Honor Before Victory" ideal more than the casual fan. But we are also realists: we know that "Homor Before Victory" ultimately equals "Bad Football" and "Fired Coaches".

It all would have been easier had the CSJ staff attended a DIII school, where articipation is still the most important factor in athletics, mostly.

So we ponder what the fall will hold for Cylone fan, and whether every player talented enough to play winning football will have let his dumb nature ruin his opportunities, and whether McCarney's unilateral disarmament will get him fired. Both will be unfortunate.



I can't say I'm surprised. The Cyclone women were due a game like that.

KSU is now in the driver's seat, with a split with ISU and a road win at Tech under their belts.

Keeler gets it right for once: ISU is a "pretty" team that runs into trouble against the bump-and-grinders of the basketball world.

The job for ISU is to survive this tough stretch. If they can get a split between games at OU, Tech and Baylor and a home tilt against Texas, they have a shot if KSU falters. But with 10 games left, the Cyclones don't have much margin for error.


Monday, January 24, 2005

First are first, last are last

I had to wait a few days before posting to let things simmer down.

One ISU team is alone in first place; the other is alone in last. On Saturday, each looked the part.

Steve Deace summed things up best in this post. The women were great; then men horrific.

The women are poised for a strong finish, and if not the conference title, a high seed in KC and a certain NCAA bid.

The men will need to hustle to get any postseason play at all. But without a forward and consistent outside shooting, it will be very tough.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Women win one they shouldn't have

The Cyclones won a home game they had almost shot themselves out of Saturday. They got their shooting eye back in the second half, and did what they wanted down the stretch to put away Mizzou 65-59.

It's an old cliche because it's true: Good teams win when they play badly. ISU's defense was where they like it, holding Mizzou well under 65 points, but just as hot shooting can be infectous-like it was in Lawrence earlier int he week- so can cold shooting.

At 4-0, they begin an interesting stretch on Saturday. Upstart Nebraska comes to Ames, who are a surprising 11-5, including a win over Baylor last week. The Cornhuskers got thumped in Manhattan, and have to host Tech before they trek to Ames. That's a tough trifecta. They have another in February, hosting Oklahoma and ISU with a trip to Texas in the middle, all in the space of 7 days. Ouch. ISU is fortunate to be the end of each of those runs, where they can hopefully take advantage of a tired Nebraska club.

Looking ahead, KSU has a very tough road on the road. They have to play OU, Tech and Baylor all in their dark unis, which will be tough to come away with more than 1 win. Both KSU and ISU could hold serve at home, then depend on their road schedule to determine seeding. Today, I like the Cyclones chances. We shall see.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Now to the first place team....

This is shaping up very well.

The ISU women went into another gym that has given them troule over the years and opened up and Industrial Sized Can of Whoop-Ass on the Jayhawks, winning 71-37. Ouch.

A 20-3 run in the second half turned it into a laugher.

So maybe Bill's crew is good enough for some ridiculous talk on my part:

Can ISU get a sweep of the north?

That would be 10 wins. That's a good seed in the B12 tourney by itself. My math would put them at 20 wins and NCAA eligible right there- assuming every game they have played counts. Anything else would just improve seeding.

This is all premature for sure. The Cyclones still need to go to Manhattan. Columbia has been another minefield over the years. Nebraska is showing life again. The next four games will really tell us what we have on our hands.

But depending on how the losses get spread around between Baylor, Tech and the others in the south, this could be a banner-worthy season in Ames.


Composure appears to be the key

For the second game in a row, ISU lost a game against a quality opponent. The other team may have won, but ISU clearly lost it.

Like their disasterous finish in Columbia, the Cyclones has small meltdowns that the opponent turned into points:

Early in the second half, KU built a 10 point lead as Homan forced three horrible shots on what seemed to be consecutive trips;

Up two, ISU watched KU turn three jump shots and a tip-in into a 6 point deficit;

4 missed free throws in the late as ISU was trying to hang on;

2 rushed 3s late;

Homan again forcing a shot into a double team in the last 2 minutes.

KU, coversely, made mistakes, but seldom twice in a row.

BTW- KU is really, really good. If not for pluckish play in the first half by ISU, KU breaks this open in the first 10 minutes and runs away. But again, the Cyclones come away with a loss that should have been a win.

Now they head to Stillwater to play the other best team in the league. However ISU finishes the season, they'll have to come from behind to do it.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

A sign

The last time the ISU women won in Boulder was on their way to their only Big XII Championship in 2000.

They won there Saturday night.

Granted, CU is young, but ISU's experience kept it's cool when CU cut the lead to 4 in the second half.

Coupled with their win over KSU three nights earlier, this could be an interesting season on the women's side, too.

Here's hoping.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Coaching under pressure

No coach in America should be as motivated as Steve Alford.

The rewards for a successful season are twofold: Keep your job in Iowa City and potentially get your dream job in Bloomington.

The bar for "success" is making the NCAA's. Get there and Steve will have his choice of Big Ten jobs.

Miss the NCAA's, and he could be out of work.

So it's amazing that after a great 12-1 start, the Hawkeyes stumble into the Big Ten season losing two games they would have won a month ago.

Not the way to impress the present or future boss.

This should be an interesting diversion the next 8 weeks.


Is this what progress feels like?

Today's loss had crazy potential for ending the road skid. But in crunch time, the Cyclones played not to lose, and they did anyway.

The good: All the effort that was lacking at Xavier was present today.

The bad: You don't lose 25 conference road games in a row by accident. They found the way today, too.

Hopefully this doesn't get into the team's head and spark the gag reflex later down the schedule.

Today's effort will win a lot of games.

Beat the Jayhawks.