Sunday, February 26, 2006


If the Cyclones insist on being disinterested ( CrossCyed's excellent choice of words) when they play a team with only 13 games under its belt on the road, I suppose it is fair to be equally disinterested in writing about it.

The basketball season has become an even bigger disappointment than the football season. Alas, it appears that the only good memory is dumping Iowa in December - and the same can be said of football.

Anyone of the Black and Gold persuasion still clinging to the myth that a win over Iowa makes the season for ISU fan should closely examine the dour expression on our collective faces.

A tough start to the Pollard regime- one that will make the rubber chicken circuit an interesting one. Better toss the Cy-Hawk trophy in your trunk for those road trips; it's all you have to hang your hat on this summer.


Monday, February 20, 2006

A Sprint to the NIT?

As strange as that sounds, that's what Cyclone basketball now must do.

At 14-11, and with a sure loss at some point of the Big 12 tourney, ISU must go 2-2 in the last four to avoid a must-win situation in the first round in Dallas. That first round game will probably come against a team that ISU might have beaten (NU, KSU) but will definitely come against a team that has beaten ISU (NU, KSU, a$m, Tech). Perhaps everything would come together in the Must Win, but given the knack for Finding A Way To Lose this bunch exhibits, I'm not holding my breath.

At this point, the NIT is the best thing for the team. Imagine if ISU somehow rips off the last four games, then gets to the semi's in Dallas. What then? A 12 or 13 or 14 seed against a team that knows how to exploit an opponent's flaws? Aside from a banner in the rafters of Hilton, would that first-round thumping really achieve anything? I'm not sure.

Since ISU can't open a Big Man's Camp during the off week, three or four winnable games in the NIT might be better than a sure loss in the NCAA in the long term. An NIT run seemed to serve ISU well last year- perhaps the same can set up next season.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Football adjusts to the market

What was mentioned last week is official this week: New start times for the three football non-conference games in Ames.

Toledo will play on the Thursday before Labor Day, and games against UNLV and UNI have been pushed back to 6 PM. All three moves make sense.

Cyclone Football has to walk before it can run. In order to build a fan base that schedules its collective life around home games (like in Lincoln and Iowa City) you have to get a fan base in the habit of coming in the first place. Given Cyclone Football's nasty habit of breaking fan's hearts , making the product as accessible as possible is a smart move.

By shifting to a "family friendly" schedule, ISU can continue to push tickets to the half-million who live within an hour's drive of Jack Trice. Granted, an evening game is a hardship for those making a long drive in (my extended family included) but Pollard will gladly trade 4 lost tickets from Dubuque or Sioux City in exchange for 24 tickets sold to Clive or Fort Dodge or Altoona. The point is getting butts in seats, and then hopefully delivering a win.

Athletics is on the right path for the former. The latter needs some work.


Self Perception

Compentency is hard to define. Strangely, those who are most competent at what they do usually judge their skills as only above average; conversely, those who are terrible think they are great. Self-analysis appears to be the problem. The inability to properly judge one's work against the whole leads to both lousy work and an overinflated self-worth.

Which leads us to Rashon Clark's comments in Sean Keeler's Sunday column. Clark gave Saturday's defensive performance in Lawrence a "B". They gave up 88 points on 50 percent shooting.


Try a "D".

Granted, KU has scouted ISU's defensive schemes perfectly, and knows exactly how to slice and dice them. KU's stregnths match perfectly with ISU's weaknesses. But on effort alone, it was not a "B" day.

CrossCyed has a breakdown of the day, "breakdown" being the primary word. ISU now needs to win virtually every game, and a couple in Dallas to avoid the NIT. I don't think they have either the horses or the heart. May they prove me wrong.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Laughable Optimism

Well, this was a ridiculous bit of optimism in my morning paper.

Money quote:

"Win six of the remaining seven regular-season games, and the Cyclones have a 93 percent chance of being among the 65 NCAA Tournament teams, according to history of the 10-season Big 12 Conference. Finish with an RPI of 63 or higher while having at least a .500 conference record, and there is a 92.6 percent chance."

This team winning six of seven, which includes roadies to Lawrence, Norman and Boulder, is as likely as Coach Morgan sprouting a Mod Squad 'fro. Considering this Cyclone squad has yet to win consecutive conference games, barring a miracle in Dallas, Pollard may as well call the NIT folks today and cook up another double header that went over so well two seasons ago.

Randy Peterson spent last season reporting from Iowa City, and this article shows it. While the Black and Gold crowd eats up any Glass Half Full mullarky that appears in print, ISU fans have BS detectors that are much more sensitive. Nice try, Randy.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Little things, II

Good teams rebound. Good teams make their free throws down the stretch.

Good teams win.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Pollard on KXNO

I came in late, but a summary of what I heard:

A big push is needed on deferred maintenance on all of the athletic facilities, especially Hilton. Included in the long term plan:

Suites- New center scoreboard- ring of lit signage around the balcony (like all the new buildings)- basketball practice and volleyball practice and game facility somehow attached to Hilton- More office space at Jacobsen and Hilton- bowling in the south end of Jack Trice- eventual upgrades for swimming and tennis when men's teams return.

Also mentioned:

The Marching Band is moving to their own set of bleachers in the north end zone to interact better with the students.

The south end zone will be sold as a $99 season ticket. 600 tickets have already been sold, and there has been only a whisper marketing campaign.

The non-conference games will probably move to night games to accommodate family life. The Toledo game on Labor Day weekend may move to the Thursday before.

In the big picture, baseball, men's swimming and men's tennis won't be brought back until all the sports programs are performing at a higher level.

All of the above will require serious cash, and Pollard is challenging ISU fans to "get out of their comfort zone". Translation: Get ready to donate more to keep the football and basketball tickets you have, and to donate more in general.

All of the things mentioned need to be done, but brace yourself for the whining that will erupt when change happens.


Back in the saddle

Sometimes it's fun just to open a Can Of Whup on somebody. CrossCyed has a nice breakdown.

Clearly, the week off was a major factor in ISU's win over CU: the players seemed focused on their individual roles, the effort was tremendous, especially inside, and the team kept the pedal to the floor with Bufflao blood in the water early in the second half. The killer instinct is a nice addition to the game plan.

But coaching won this game. Morgan and crew clearly tweaked what ISU had been doing on defense, from guard harrassment of the ball in the back court, to new wrinkles in the zone, to sending all 5 players to the defensive boards. Granted, tweaks like that work against CU, which seems to rely on athletisism and streaky shooting to win ballgames. But the tweaks were made, they players bought in, and CU had no response.

With a double roadie to KSU and KU this week, ISU's fourtunes may become cemented. Get a split (we won't even think about a sweep) and remain on the NCAA bubble. Lose both, and a Dallas miracle may be required.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


This author has made boatloads of bad decisions in his life. Fortunately, none were in the public eye, and none were as costly as Jason Berrman's.

When a student does not do what is required to retain a full scholarship, that is a waste. When an athlete with professional talent does not do what is required to continue playing his sport, that is also a waste. Jason failed both ways.

For being unwilling to wait the three weeks until he was 21 to go to the bars, Jason now gets to start over in another town, with another team, in another league. I suspect his cell phone has been ringing non-stop in the last 48 hours with a fresh round of recruiting calls. He will play college football again, for someone, but he will again be on a short leash.

I was skeptical about Jason's return to ISU football, and took it as a sign that ISU was suddenly willing to play by the same weak rules that Big Time Football powers play by. It appears my reading of the tea leaves was in error. Cyclone football appears content to place its integrity before winning, which in the long run, gets coaches fired.

that will be a waste, too.