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Trend Tracking: Keys To Cyclone Success

Last year Kirk Haaland discovered the key to Iowa State's success was through Royce White's efficiency. Can he do the same for this year's squad?

Jamie Squire

We all have moments in our lives when we're pretty proud of ourselves for finding something that we think is really impressive, even if others kind of look at us with bewildered smirks. Well, that was me last year, when right around this time I found a trend with the Cyclones that I put out on the Twitter-verse and watched it unfold more accurately than I could ever imagine.

What I noticed in mid-January was the relationship between the number of Royce White field goal attempts and whether or not the Cyclones won. I'm not sure of the exact time that I pointed out that relationship but here is how it finished:

When Royce attempted 12+ field goals last year ISU was 2-11 and those two wins were Lehigh to begin the season and Kansas State at home. When Royce attempted 11 or fewer field goals the Cyclones were 21-0. You can see why I'm proud of this stat.

This means I must duplicate this feat for this season even if the odds are not in my favor. Along those lines I'll present you with some too-early-to-really-tell "trends" through just 15 games. In reality these trends are misleading as many of the 15 opponents so far have been closer to patsies than not. Here are the most interesting "trends" that I have identified up until now:

  • In games where the Cyclones have notched a steal percentage (percentage of opponent possessions that ended with a Cyclone steal) of greater than 9% they are 9-0. Two of the six games where that benchmark was not reached were still wins. Most notably and recently Texas with just a 5.2% steal percentage.
  • When the Cyclones have recorded a team assist to turnover ratio of 0.88 or better they are 10-1. The one loss was in Lawrence when Iowa State's ratio was 1.55.
  • When ISU's free throw rate (FTM/FGA) is greater than their opponents' the Cyclones are 8-0. When that is not the case ISU is 3-4 but those three wins weren't against powerhouses (Alabama A&M, UMKC, and Florida Gulf Coast).
  • When opponents have shot 18+ free throws the Cyclones are 0-3. When opponents have shot fewer than that ISU is 11-1. The lone loss in that scenario was at Iowa where the Hawkeyes shot 15 free throws.

Those were the team trends that I have been able to pick out. Next are some individual correlations that are limited to Korie Lucious, Will Clyburn, or the combination of the two. As hard as I tried I could not find any other obvious trends as they relate to any of the other individuals. Here are the completely obvious Lucious and Clyburn trends that have been identified:

  • In five games this year Lucious has attempted seven or more three point field goals and in those games the Cyclones are 1-4. The lone win in that bunch came against Florida Gulf Coast when he was 5/7 behind the arc. In games with six or fewer attempts from Lucious that obviously leaves the Cyclone record to 10-0.
  • There have been nine games this season where Will Clyburn has averaged 1.36 points/field goal attempt or better-a good measure of offensive scoring efficiency. In those nine games ISU is 9-0. In the remaining six games the Cyclones found two wins but those games were against Nebraska-Omaha and Florida Gulf Coast.
  • When Lucious and Clyburn have combined for an assist to turnover ratio of 0.83 or better the Cyclones are 11-0, leaving them at 0-4 when they do not hit that mark. Clearly this is very closely related to the team assist to turnover ratio mentioned above and a similar ratio as well.
  • Eleven times so far this season Lucious and Clyburn have combined for an effective field goal percentage of 41% or better and in those games Iowa State is 10-1. In that one loss they shot 54.5% and that game was played in Lawrence.

As previously noted these trends are far from conclusive for now but they all seem to correlate strongly to the intuitive observations when watching games, at least from my vantage point. It will be interesting to see how they fair going forward or if any new trends arise. Odds are, I won't look as good as I did last year.