I'll be the first to admit, I'm not usually one to pray.
However, I find myself looking to the heavens more and more these days. You know why- you always do, don't you? Being omniscient must have its perks. But in case you missed the signs, I'll spell it out for you; the Iowa State Men's basketball team is going through a rough stretch lately, starting off conference play 1-3 while going 3-4 in their last seven games.
This is not what I envisioned for a preseason top-5 ranked team with hopes of dethroning Kansas in the Big XII, and making a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. It's not what anyone in Ames, Iowa expected, given the level of returning talent on this roster.
Yes, you took from us the beloved Fred Hoiberg, the true Prodigal Son, and offered him the chance to live out his dream as an NBA coach. And then, to twist the knife, you struck down your own son, Naz Mitrou-Long! 3sus, who saved us not once, but twice only a short time ago. You are a cruel God, to deny a player such as he, who has bled cardinal and gold from every pore throughout his time playing in the House That Johnny Built, Hilton Coliseum.
But it is not the past that I am here to ask about. It is the future.
The Mayor's replacement, Steve Prohm, is a dedicated disciple of Your ways. I pray that You give him the strength to withstand the criticism that will inevitably be thrown his way, the insight to adjust a defense that has given up too many open 3's and layups lately, and the stones to trust his bench more so our starters have more energy at the end of games.
I pray that the continued excellent play of Georges Niang and Matt Thomas continues, while also hoping they can keep their feet moving on defense. The Good Book says to be "slow to anger", but that doesn't mean a slow first step is necessary as well.
I pray that Abdel Nader fully realizes the drive-and-dish potential he has, but also supplements that with improved 3 point shooting. As Hebrews 13:16 says, "And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Sacrifice the rock Abdel. Good things will come.
I pray that Jameel McKay rediscovers his Big XII Defensive Player of the Year form. Part of that has to do with the defensive scheme, but another part is sticking close enough to the basket to help when driving guards make it into the paint. In the lost Book of Naismith, I believe there was a verse that said, "Block that shit, Jameel."
I pray that Monte Morris checks his ego and completely buys in to Coach Prohm's thinking. Monte, you have the skills and vision to become a truly special point guard. Many would argue that you already are. But Proverbs 9:9 has a message for you, "Give instruction to a wise man and he will still be wiser." Pay attention.
I also pray that the fans, who have invested so heavily in this season after another disappointing football year, develop patience. This is arguably the most talented team in recent memory. Do not berate them and cast stones because of your lofty aspirations. Appreciate them, support them, encourage them. They will find a way to right the ship and let us bathe in the Kingdom of Hilton with them.
Most of all though, I pray that everyone, both the players and the fans, start having fun again. Do not let the weight of expectation cloud your vision of the moment at hand. Celebrate the wins, lament the losses, grow as people and players. Enjoy it, because in a few short months, it will all be over. One way or another.