Thursday, November 24, 2005

Blackout notice

Due to work commitments, this site will most likely be dark until December 4th at the earliest. I'll be traveling with unknown access to internet and time to blog.

If you are not already subscribing to this blog with an RSS reader, I would highly recommend it. My sporadic blog style is not well suited to regular scheduled reading.

I thank you for your patience. With any luck we will have mucho good news to discuss when I return.


Quick Hoops thoughts

Saw the Portland State game in person, and some thoughts about the next few weeks:

-This team is a work in progress, and will be very interesting in 6 or 8 weeks. Unfortunately, losses to any of the following are possible, or even probable: Iona, UNI, SUI, Drake, and Ohio State. Simply too much confusion on offense to develop much flow, and uncertainty on D leads to the occational breakdown and hurts rebounding. They had better have things squared away before this brutal trifecta: Texas, Lubbock and Lincoln in 8 days. Ouch.

-I really like the way Taggert keeps the ball way above his head down low on offense, which allows him to shoot easily, not have the shot blocked or ripped away by shorter players, or make the quick pass to another shooter. It's a skill too few big men possess these days.

-Cyclone Alley has sold around 30,000 tickets (my estimate). When those kids get hopping, there may not be a tougher venue in college basketball outside the ACC. Hopefully they will have reason to hop.


Retrun the favor

If ISU were to win Saturday in Lawrence, it would return the favor of a demoralizing loss to the Jayhawks back in '99.

The '99 season saw ISU finish 4-7, but with narrow losses to 11-1 KSU (35-28; ISU wasted a huge lead), 7-5 CU (16-12), and 9-5 Texas (44-41; winning kick as time expired). Entering the KU game with a 4-6 record still gave ISU hope of a momentum building win to end the year with, and help gear up to what would be a breakthrough 9-3 campaign.

Instead, Terry Allen (now an assistant in Ames) led the Jayhawks to a come from behind win to raise their season record to 5-7, and as close as he got to 6 wins after his rookie 5-6 campaign. It was a classic McCarney "Play not to lose" ending, and it really brought out the dogs, making 2000 a definate Do Or Die season for him. Fortunately he Did, and has continued to steadily upgrade the program.

A win for ISU would improve their record- but likely not their bowl position- and severly damage the outlook for Coach Mangino. At 5-5, it's "Win or Stay Home" for the Jayhawks: a trip to sunny Orlando or unsunny Ft. Worth would be their bowl prize. Since the '03 KU team used a freefalling Cyclone squad to earn their 6th win and a trip to Florida, it would only be appropriate to deny KU a similar trip this year.

Here's hoping.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hopefully, a turn for the worse

Now that Bill Snyder has decided to retire, the KSU adminestration will somehow find a knucklehead to drive the program back to it's pre-Bill days.

You have to admit, it is much harder to find the guy who lifts a program up than it is to find the guy who brings it down.

Exhibit A: the Gibbs/Schnellenberger/Blake period at OU
Exhibit B: Franchione at a$m
Exhibit C: Allen/Mangino at KU
Exhibit D: Solich/Calahan at NU
Exhibit E: Everyone who has coached Michigan State since George Pearle
Exhibit F: Duncan/Criner/Walden at ISU

While some of these programs now have a coach who will lead them to better things, one never knows when the hire is made. Personally, I thought Terry Allen had a better chance of success at KU than Glen Mason did at Minnesota. I couldn't have been more wrong with that one. It's a crap shoot, really. Who would have thought Gary Pinkel would have struggled this long with Brad Smith as his QB?

Here's hoping KSU hires the wrong person. The North Division needs a patsy to replace ISU.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Progress, progress

ISU's win over Colorado was yet another step forward in the maturation process of Cyclone Football. ISU beat another ranked team. They beat a team that had consistently won over the Cyclones. ISU won despite not having an effective running game. They beat another team that will be bowling. ISU held onto narrow leads, and made the big plays that would decide the game.

All are good news. The season finale at KU will be a bear, with KU having the XII's best defense, home field, Senior emotion, a bowl trip on the line, and a coach on the hotseat. Traditionally, all those factors would have meant a sure Cyclone loss.

This year, I'm not so sure. The poise ISU has displayed, the tenacity on defense and resourcefulness on offense gives me hope that an eighth win, and a better bowl bit, may be in the offing.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


While on a long drive today, I was struck with the differnce in "physicality" the Cyclones have presented this season as compared to last.

It is an imperfect comparison, but in general, ISU has dished out this season what it recieved last season from:

Okie State

One can rightfully argue that Baylor and Nebraska both had a huge turnaround compared to their '04 games against ISU, and I say fine, that will happen. ISU is ahead, at this moment, 4-2.

Folks who witnessed the meltdown at Mizzou say that ISU was in control for about 52 minutes. Half a star, then.

But those four games are a complete turnaround from '04. Iowa and a$m toyed with ISU, and could have won by far more than they did. KSU was in control until the fourth. OSU, while helped by early turnovers, kept the Cyclones in check.

Each were dominated by ISU from gun to gun. It's been a long, long time since ISU put down four opponents in that fashion.

The next two games will separate ISU from Just Another Season and Season To Remember. ISU was essentially even against both CU and KU last year, splitting the games. This observer was quite nervous at how well the Jayhawk Motionless Offense was moving in '04 before the QB got hurt, which became the turning point in both the game and KU's season. KU coulda-woulda-shoulda won their last 4 including ISU, and with their starter at QB would have done better than the 1-4 finish that did them in.

Hopefully the newfound muscle can finish the job the next 2 games, and ISU can create a bit of national buzz they lost during the 3 game slide.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Fun with numbers

I found myself in a library this week, so I did some research.

Peterson's 4-year Colleges is an interesting but hard to carry read. It lists information about every college in the US and Canada, from the smallest trade school to the snootiest Ivy League. I scribbled some numbers that make for very surprising comparisons.

What follows is the name of a school, it's enrollment, and the percentage of the freshman class that has an SAT score, verbal and math, above 500, 600 and 700. ( I was unable to find a source for the percentage of test takers scoring in each threshold.) I have grouped them by conference, alphabetically, along with some other schools for comparison.

Baylor 11.5 89/92 46/50 10/11
Colorado 26.1 87/91 40/50 6/9
Iowa State 21.3 82/89 47/62 13/23
Kansas 21.3 18/96 24/57 30/11 #
Kansas State 19.1 18/93 24/48 30/9 #
Missouri 22.1 89/87 51/54 12/11
Nebraska 17.1 79/86 43/51 13/16
Oklahoma 20.3 18/98 24/75 30/18 #
Okie State 18.8 70/76 23/33 3/5
Texas 37.4 88/92 55/66 15/23
Texas A&M 35.7 82/88 43/57 8/13
Texas Tech 23.3 78/86 27/36 4/5

Illinois 29.6 90/97 63/82 18/45
Indiana 29.5 71/77 27/33 4/7
Iowa 20.1 87/91 50/54 16/16
Michigan 24.8 95/98 70/85 20/41
Michigan State 35.4 74/82 35/44 7/10
Minnesota 32.7 86/90 50/60 20/13
Northwestern 8.0 99/100 91/94 51/63
Ohio State 37.5 85/91 42/54 9/14
Penn State 34.8 88/93 43/61 8/16
Purdue 30.7 77/84 30/43 5/10
Wisconsin 29.7 91/97 60/77 16/28

Dartmouth 4.1 100/99 93/94 65/70
Drake 2.9 86/90 47/60 13/13
Grinnell 1.5 99/99 86/91 48/46
Luther 2.6 89/93 60/63 14/16
Northern Iowa 11.3 55/66 29/27 6/8
Notre Dame 8.3 98/99 86/91 44/54

# only ACT scores reported- percentage of students scoring an 18, 24 and 30

Some notes:

First of all, sorry about the formatting. I didn't want to muck things up with frames.
This is NOT a scientific comparison, just a snapshot. My logic is that the higher the percentage of students in the right hand column, the tougher the acaddemics. Stat is not my day job, I'm sure someone will point out all the things I've done wrong.

My own personal comparison of how the ACT and SAT compare: the ACT has a higher percentage of students at 18 and 24 compared to the SAT 500 and 600, but the 30 and 700 are in the ballpark of each other.

I was surprised by how similar the Big XII schools are, and how big the spread is in the Big 10.

As always, this is for entertainment purposes only. No wagering.


Cyclone hitting stride at right time.

First of all, K State isn't very good.

Their offense is downright anemic, and if not for the tight end and monsterous fullback, would be non-existant. The Cyclone D was easily able to shut down the running game and harras the QB, leading ISU to a 45-17 drubbing.

Take the last 4 games as a unit, and the D is making games winnable: they contained two talented running QB's, and demolished two subpar offenses. Turnovers are leading to short fields, easy scores, and a demoralized opposition. The fact that a healthy Stevie Hicks has perked up the offense is a bonus.

And while this winning streak is unprecidented (the first time ISU has scored 37+ points against three straight conference oponents) it gets much steeper the rest of the way: Colorado in Ames and at Kansas. CU is probably the best team ISU will play this year, and KU will most likely be 5-5 and needing a win to go bowling and save their coach's job. (KU had only scored 46 points in their previous 5 games before today's 40-15 win over Nebraska. A blocked punt and an INT were both returned for TDs, and a safety helped pad the final.) Those will be tough nuts to crack.

But now is not the time to doubt the Cyclones. When on a roll, you bet the roll continues. Three straight breathers is a heck of a roll.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My football view has changed

I had always been a bit skeptical of the Great Back School of football. I always looked at the talented offensive linesin front of the marquee backs and assumed they were at least half of the equation. All it takes is a team that throws in #2 after #1 gets hurt and nothing changes to question the Great Back. How many All-Pro backs did Denver produce that later found little success after moving to another team?

But Saturday's ISU thumping of a$m made one thing clear: ISU is a very different team with a mostly healthy Stevie Hicks carrying the rock. When the running game has to be respected, Meyer is free to shred bad pass coverage. It was a pleasant change of scenery for the Cyclones- dumping a perrenial power on their field, and going away to boot.

All Hail the Great Back Theory!