Last Monday, while I was sitting on my couch watching Oklahoma score on what seemed like their 15th straight possession, I couldn’t help but see the panic on the faces and the criticizing words written in the Gamethread on this here website.
Going into the game, I knew that Oklahoma had been on a roll. They were on a four-game winning streak. They have the only greasy tribal tattooed white big man in the game named Ryan Sprangler. And they were playing at HOME.
HOME. Our house. My locker room. My fans. My music and my hoops that I shoot on every day.
Winning on the road is tough. Now, add a team that plays in the best conference in the NCAAs. Then add a team that is in the top three or four in that conference. That is Oklahoma. That is Kansas.
ISU has lost their last two games on the road, against two nationally ranked teams, and both on one day of rest.
Everyone was throwing in the towel. Fans were already claiming Kansas had won the Big 12 again. How ISU can’t win in any building not named James H. Hilton Coliseum. Now while some of them are right, let me point something out.
Winning on the road is Tough. Real Tough.
You have to travel for hours by plane, barely get any sleep, and the crowd always has it out for you.
Going into this season, everyone was wet dreaming of McDreamy with a Final Four banner and a Big 12 Regular Season Title.
Not so fast my friends. Back the car up. Let’s take it one game at a time.
Here is a question for your fans out there. If ISU fails to win the Big 12 Conference AND the Big 12 Conference tournament, is this year a failure?
The answer is most definitely a resounding NO.
While last year’s booze-filled escapade and celebration in Kansas City was one that I will tell the grandkids for years to come, we can’t expect to win that EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Last year, the cards fell into place. If Joel Embid had been a healthy 100%, ISU may have never had the chance to beat Kansas. But they did, I loved it, you loved it, and it was one of the most exciting times to be a Cyclone fan.
While I would love to pump wonderful sunshine into all of your premature Final Four grasping minds, it is my job to bring you all back to earth. Every game in the Big 12 Conference is like a boxing match. When you play the likes of Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas on the road, it ensues into a 15-round fight. Look no further than last night's victory by West Virginia over Kansas.
Iowa State is 65-4 at home since the 2011-12 season. That is one of the best marks in the nation, and a true home court advantage.
Now put the shoe on the other foot. Every team that comes to Ames, IA seems to come away empty handed. Vegas prematurely gives a team in college basketball four points for playing on their home floor. In environments like Hilton, it is more like six to eight.
Trivia Question - Who was the last team not named Kansas to beat ISU in Hilton?
The answer to that question are the runaway SEC wannabes in Missouri, led by brothers Phil and Matt Pressey in January 2012.
The best coach to ever grace the sidelines in Hilton Coliseum is the one and only Johnny Orr. He won a school record 218 games in 14 years. He led ISU to its first Sweet Sixteen and a spot on the map in college basketball.
But he was God awful on the road.
In Orr’s 14 seasons, he never won more than TWO Conference games on the road. TWO! In FOURTEEN YEARS!
His average record on the road was 1-6, and his average place in the conference was 5th out of 8 teams.
So far, Freddy has averaged 2.5 wins on the road per year, and his average place is also 5th, out of 10-12 teams, (the Big 12 actually had 12 teams in 2011).
Now while this team has tons of potential, winning on the road is never going to be easy. Sometimes you hit a bump in the road, even in the dry tumbleweed environment that is Lubbock, TX.
Fred is still learning on the go. He is only in his fifth season as a coach. Ever.
So relax Cyclone fans. If we don’t win the regular season title, it isn’t the end of the world.
McDreamy always gets his players playing great by March, and I have no doubt that he will do the same this year.