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10 Thoughts On Iowa State

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I never know whether or not to recap the game because, in a season like this one, I’m guessing if you’re dedicated enough to read 800 1,200 of my words about a 9-9 team, you’re probably dedicated enough to have watched the game in full, but here’s a rundown on the last minute of the game if you missed it in real time:

Keiton hit a pair of free throws on a shady baseline foul call to put OSU up 68-65 with 1:10 left. Tyrus McGee came down and missed a lengthy three for Iowa State as Brian “I’m never in the wrong place on the court” Williams grabbed the board and was fouled. Then, and this drives me out of my mind, Ford let Keiton take the air out of the ball (with 58 seconds left) before he hoisted a 33-footer with three seconds on the shot clock. Freeze it.

In my mind, you have to put the ball in Markel Brown’s hands right there. He’d been finding the open guy all night and if three and a half seasons of Keiton proving he can’t create his own shot off the dribble isn’t enough of a sample size, I’m not sure what is!

It’s a sedentary offense with Keiton out front. Nobody flows, the plays are awkward, I just don’t understand the strategy at that point.

Okay, back to the game.

Tyrus McGee hits a lengthy three with 17 seconds left to tie it at 68 all. Travis Ford calls a timeout to draw up a last-second play which some might argue is like Darron Thomas trying to do advanced calculus (I am not one of these people). Markel gets the ball, drives into the lane, has it knocked off his knee out of bounds and Iowa State gets it back with five seconds on the clock. I receive my answer for why Markel doesn’t have the ball in his hands.

In his defense though, that was his first turnover of the night.

Scott Christopherson hits a running, Adam Morrison-like 25-footer for the win and the Iowa State student section starts chanting “just like football!”

I am in hell.

On to the thoughts…

1. This was BY FAR the most complete, best game OSU has played all season. They moved the ball, played outstanding rebound-oriented defense, shot smart, and generally kept a great home team very off-balanced. Don’t let the last minute of play (we’ll get to that) spoil a resounding answer to the question we were all wondering after the Baylor rout: “do these guys have anything left for the rest of the Big 12 season?”

2. Markel Brown played point for most of the game (again, we’ll get to that too) and played it beautifully. 11 assists, one turnover, and a whole host of “there’s no way we would be doing this if the ball was in Cezar’s or Keiton’s hands right now” plays. I’m not going to toot my own horn (uh, yes I am) but I was calling for #22 at the one-spot in the middle of conference play last season.

3. To build on point two, the reason Markel at the point works is two-fold. One – he’s more athletic and bigger than Keiton and can actually create off the dribble, kind of like a poor man’s Eaton. Two – it allows Keiton to do what Keiton does, and this is whiz through and around all the trees in the lane, come off triple and quadruple screens, and rip people’s hearts out with three ball after three ball. If Markel can continue to make good decisions with the ball, and that’s basically all he did tonight, then I say ride him at the one the rest of the season.

4. Not to go all Bob Knight on you guys, but LeBryan should really utilize the pump fake more. His jumper is just enticing enough to draw defenders to him before he blows by them and hits that sweet little 9-footer. Also, he had possibly the best game of his career and looked on the verge of explosion for part of the second half.

5. Iowa State shot a lot of threes tonight, 27 to be exact, and at times seemed a bit aloof. I expected a tad more discipline with The Mayor steering things but understand that you’re not a top 25 team in terms of three-pointers made without jacking a lot of them. Also, Royce White was incredibly imposing physically, although Jurick did a nice job of negating his presence, but drifted a bit and didn’t always seem mentally there. I don’t watch a ton of ISU hoops so any Cyclones reading this can help me out in the comments with his makeup and whether or not this was an aberration.

6. There’s no way Markel Brown and Brian Williams aren’t the two best rebounding guards in the country. I feel like OSU loses five boards a game because Markel is out-reaching a flat-footed Jurick and they knock the ball away from each other or Williams is trying to go over the top of a lifeless Nash and neither one comes up with it.

7. We caught a glimpse of this team’s identity tonight. Like I said at halftime, if everyone would stay in their lane and do what they do best, then this could be a squad. Or a squad to build on. The issues come in when we try to have Keiton be a distributing point guard or Cezar a scoring point guard or Nash a versatile swingman or whatever it is they’ve been fledgling as for the past month. If you have Markel create, distribute, and just generally be awesome, Keiton come off screens and shoot, Nash post people up and draw fouls, Williams running high lows with Cobbins, Jurick bodying people, Soucek knocking down 13-footers, and Cezar with a leash the length of a rubber band then this team could go .500 the rest of the way. Seriously.

8. Speaking of Cezar and leashes, I don’t believe he played in the second half.

9. Do you think Christien Sager was prairie dogging it harder when Ford barked “Sager, get Keiton!” with 12 minutes left in the first half of a conference game or after he ran up and down the court with Royce White for 55 seconds? I say the former but I could be wrong…

10. Sam Bryant from Cowboys Ride For Free had a good point after the game. Why leave Keiton in to guard a 6’3 43% shooter when you have Soucek on the bench? You could have had Markel, Williams, and Nash chase the guards, thrown Cobbins on White and let Soucek take the other big guy (I believe it was Ejim). Wait, I’m getting Bobik on Salim Stoudamire in the ’05 dance flashbacks. Make it stop!!!

11. (bonus!) Not that any of you care but I really enjoyed watching Cowboy basketball tonight. It doesn’t mean they’re going to make the tournament or they’re “back” or anything like that. Sometimes though, it’s enough that your team plays an outstanding game in a wicked environment and has a shot in the last five minutes, even when you get your heart ripped out in the end. At least you get to feel something, unlike the numbing effect Baylor left us with on Saturday.

Next game: in GIA on Saturday against Kansas State

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