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10 thoughts on OSU and Iowa State

So many thoughts.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI


There isn’t enough time for all of my thoughts but let’s get rolling…

First, I know this is a bit counterintuitive when it feels like Iowa State just stuck the dagger in our season (and Ford’s career?) but I was actually encouraged at times by the way OSU played tonight.

They finally figured out that their offense is supposed to be “pass the ball to Nash, let him do good stuff, move around a little bit, and pray he doesn’t throw it into the second row.”

It’s not the greatest offense but with so many guys out you can’t really press and trap because we’ll have a bunch of dead college students on our hands by the time the Big 12 tournament rolls around so it’ll work for now and especially with the way No. 2 is playing.

He was a man tonight. I mean look at this line:

26 points (10/19 from the field)
10 boards
5 assists
2 steals
2 blocks

He did everything (well, until the end).

Whether I trust this team to sustain what has become its best offense for more than the 55 minutes it took to play this game is a different question.

Speaking of extra time, here is your summary on what happened at the end of each of these tonight…

Regulation: Kane takes Jamal Crawford-level three that gets tip dunked .0000001 seconds late.[1. Just want to point out how perfectly this tip dunk would have fit into the OSU-ISU narrative for the last three years between the 2011 football game, the 2012 bball game in Ames, and last year’s basketball game in Stillwater.]

1OT: Markel beautifully strips a streaking Monte Morris that looked like he had nothing but daylight between him and the bucket.

2OT: Kane wisely passes up a three and finds Naz Long from very long for the three and the tie. I was more nervous than Eddie’s dermatologist at this point.

3OT: OSU, down one, runs two fadeaways for its two strongest players, one of whom had basically been scoring at will on the interior for the last 20 minutes.


As my buddy Quade pointed out, OSU controlled the game in the last two OTs. The Pokes had the ball and a three-point lead with 18 seconds left in OT No. 2 when Markel ran a fadeaway for himself that elicited a “was that a play?” from my wife who’d just returned home from two hours of the Bachelor with a friend.

Then in the third OT OSU had a two-point lead and the ball with 50 seconds left before Markel drove to the bucket and lost the ball off the backboard. Morris came down and hit what felt like Iowa State’s 329th three of the night (it was really just their 10th).

After a bad pass by Nash on the next possession to a wide open Brian Williams, ISU hit two free throws, Markel answered with a dunk to cut it to one, Iowa State threw it away with 10 seconds and then….

Smart went into hero mode (EVEN THOUGH LE’BRYAN WAS TREATING ANYONE ON IOWA STATE WILLING TO GUARD HIM LIKE THEY WERE AN EMBARRASSMENT TO THE SPORT OF BASKETBALL) and missed a fadeaway. OSU got ANOTHER chance with two seconds left and with no timeouts left could do no better than a Nash fadeaway in the corner.

It wasn’t a particularly fun ending to what turned out to be an incredibly entertaining game but OSU at least did some things on offense (like not shoot 300 threes) that made you think this squad still has a pulse.

They just aren’t tough enough or deep enough on defense to be an elite team. Some of that’s on Ford’s general mentality and some of it is on his inability to build a program but the fans (all 4,500 of them) were treated to a good show in GIA tonight and I’m not sure what else we can ask from OSU hoops right now.

That’s sort of depressing, yes, but this team is now (incredibly in seventh place in the Big 12 and going nowhere fast. I mean what’s the ceiling? 10 Big 12 wins? 11? You think this team has seven more Big 12 wins in it? That would be 7-2 over the last nine with games at ISU, at Baylor, and at Texas. Oh, and Kansas at home.

So we might as well just enjoy it for what it is — a talented, if not super shallow, Big 12 team with an underachieving coach and a group of players still trying to grind out wins. The end result wasn’t pretty but the show was pretty entertaining.

More thoughts…

• Oklahoma State has now played nine Big 12 games and led by more than one at halftime in two of them (TCU at home and WVU at home). Yikes.

• Quick uniform note: how hard is it to do throwback on Eddie Sutton night? Why is this like pulling teeth? Ford is literally begging folks to come to games and we’re just turning a blind eye to one of the few things that can stir the magic.

• Very cool.

• Oh my.

• I mentioned this in last week’s mailbag — we don’t have a go-to shot or play when we get in trouble. It’s all 1-on-1 stuff. We have nothing to fall back on other than “dear basketball gods, let one of our guys be smoking hot from three tonight.” It felt like this got figured out a little bit in the second half with the offense going through Nash but that’s been the M.O. all season.

• This is either awesome or really bad. I have no idea which.

• Did Smart get some new tattoos? I know Nash did because Kelly Hines tweeted about it but I thought I noticed some new ink on 33 as well.

• Yeesh.

• How above this game is Musburger? He’s like “WTF am I doing in Stillwater, OK on a freezing cold Monday night watching two 4-4 teams play basketball? Can I at least get a pitcher from Joe’s?”

• I don’t love commenting on this (for many reasons, the foremost of which is that the horse is dead and not coming back to life) but the showing (in numbers) in GIA was pathetic. Students, alumni, everybody. I’m not blaming anybody, it’s just kind of a bummer.

• On the other hand, the students that were there sounded pretty loud. Like a middle class man’s version of the KD 3OT game.

Case in point:

• I originally thought this would be an easier matchup for OSU because Iowa State doesn’t have any bigs like Baylor but I finally realized tonight that every matchup is a tough matchup. We’re small and shallow and that’s just the way it’s going to be for the rest of the season.

• On that note, I saw people on Twitter reacting negatively to playing a zone:

I’m just not sure we’re deep enough or tough enough on the interior to do anything else. You just play a zone and pray Iowa State doesn’t get super hot from beyond the arc.


• Smart was the seventh player for OSU to score tonight. Where were my odds on that to begin the game?

• Speaking of odds, this time last year what kind of odds could you have gotten on Smart playing in this game and Stevie not playing in this game?

• Haha.

• Fraschilla told me in the first half that Leyton Hammonds has lost his confidence? The confidence he displayed against…….?

• Did you ever think you’d see the day when Nash was the one making the best decisions on offense for us? I mean, like most of the time, too. He consistently does the smartest stuff on O. That’s bizarre.

• Hearing Brent talking about “outraging public decency” is the highest of comedies.

• Another interesting note on the Stevie thing: Holly Rowe made it sound like Ford, Stevie, and Mrs. Stevie came to the decision as a group to not let Stevie play anymore. I have no idea whether or not that was actually the case but that’s sure how it sounded to me.

• Is that Joe Adkins at the top of my screen?

• Excellent question.

• Brian Williams, come on down! He kept OSU hanging around in the first half and finished with 15 points and five boards (on 7/11 shooting!) That’s a Nash line.

• A not-very-fun stat: Iowa State had lost 12 straight on the road against ranked teams until tonight.

• Another not-very-fun stat: Iowa State hadn’t won in Stillwater since I was in big-boy undies (1988).[1. My parents will likely argue the authenticity of this date.]

• Ford letting Markel run the show and (at times) guard Kane was pretty interesting. Was it just to get Marcus going? More long-term? Stay tuned.

• Do what?

• Speaking of Smart…he was fine tonight, good at times even (he had 20-9-2-1-0) but he’s just not the go-to guy he was last year. Markel had a fast break late in the second half where Marcus stepped to the side and was yelling for the ball so he could shoot a three. You’re shooting 22% in Big 12 play!

• I’m not going to comment on the flopping. You already know my position. I guess my general point with him is that, for me, he’s become not very fun to watch. That doesn’t mean he’s not a great, great college player (he probably still is). I’m just not driving that bandwagon.

Also, it’s not just me:

• Now if you want to talk about people I’ve enjoyed watching play this year, let’s talk about Nash since the Big 12 started. Amilian and I were texting about this during the game but to see where he was his freshman year to where he is now, it’s just incredible. His passing out of the double team needs some work and he could use a couple more post moves but he’s a monster right now.

• Heh.

• The Kane-Smart matchup tonight was pretty great. Kane doesn’t have time for Smart’s antics and he let him hear about it. I love me a good point guard duel and those two combined for 46-18-11-2-0. And I hate to break this to you, but Kane was better.

• Niang is a handful. He’s so deft for somebody that big. He reminds me a little bit of Marshall Moses, too, in that I think he thinks he’s a lot better than he actually is but because he thinks that he actually plays that well.

• I DIED at this tweet.

• More quotes from my wife, this time on GIA: “That’s really bizarre, that’s really bizarre, that is not good, that’s embarrassing.” All one sentence.

• Smart was a little bit better at driving and distributing tonight, I guess. He just seems so lost on offense sometimes. I don’t really understand it.

• Am I crazy or were the refs actually kind of decent for most of the game tonight. It got a little out of hand at the end (and this call was the worst) but I thought they let a lot of stuff go, which was great for us. Did you ever think you’d see the day when this OSU team made it through three OTs with only one guy fouling out??

• Speaking of Big 12 refs, this tweet was terrific:

• This was pretty amazing as well.

• Quade pointed this out to me as well but Hoiberg came out in a zone defense on Nash at the end of the third OT — the time when Nash tried to slip it to Brian Williams under the bucket and threw it out of bounds.

• I don’t actually think he’d be 20-2, but he’d be better than 16-6.

• It felt like Iowa State’s looks inside the paint all night were so easy. Are they just that good down low or are we that soft? I genuinely don’t know.

• How about when Fran started talking about Ejim having a passport? He went on about the merits of having a passport. “It can get you into any country, you know.” It was just an exquisite announcing moment. This was funny, too:

• One thine OSU has to be better at if they are going to run the offense through Nash is not tossing it to him and standing around. Back cut, move, breathe, don’t be a corpse, something. Baby steps, I guess.

• Oh boy.

• Death.

• Somebody correct me if I’m wrong about this but I believe OSU’s biggest lead tonight was five points. That means the Cowboys haven’t led a game by more than five since the win against West Virginia four games ago. Wowza.

• Only nine assists is awful. But only 15 threes is an improvement. Still, five from Smart…

• In the second OT when Iowa State got the board off the three and hit the long three to tie it — that felt like the Ray Allen in Game 6 of the Finals moment from last year. How do we not get that board?

• Yikes…

• All in all I thought tonight was great. This was a “hey we don’t really have a great coach and we definitely don’t have a direction but we’re going to leave it all on the court and the students are still going to give a crap” game. Iowa State is good. It’s not like we were rolling over against Baylor or something. I can live with 98-97 3OT games to ISU with what we have right now.

Does that mean I’m fired up about our program trajectory?

No, but I’ve got 2,000 words for that some other time.

Next game: At Tech on Saturday night

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