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Basketball Preview: We're Talking Kansas State, Sort Of

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If we were ever going to do a caption contest, I'm pretty sure this would be the perfect time.
If we were ever going to do a caption contest, I'm pretty sure this would be the perfect time.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not John Wooden. You're not Dean Smith. I'm no more equipped and qualified to fix the many woes that are plaguing this Iowa State team than you are, so I'm not going to pretend that I can post a few Vines and screen captures and claim to have diagnosed the root of this poor stretch of play from the Cyclones.

No, I have no interest in doing that. I can claim that there are terminal chemistry issues with this team and just as easily point to Iowa State's defensive woes as both evidence that this team isn't being coached very well and/or simply doesn't give a shit, but it's all just speculation.

This Cyclone team is what it is at this point. Or are they? Iowa State has played 4 games in Big 12 play and 16 games overall. There are still 15 guaranteed games on the schedule and there's tremendous room for growth and development and more than enough time to get this potential juggernaut back on track.

There's not a team on the remaining schedule that Iowa State can't beat and on most nights going forward, the Cyclones will have more pure talent than just about anyone they face. And that's what makes this 1-3 start in conference play all the more frustrating. With a couple breaks here and there, Iowa State could just as easily be 3-1 or 4-0. They led Oklahoma virtually throughout the contest, held a double-digit lead in the second half at home against Baylor and despite a terrible defensive effort in Austin, ISU had plenty of opportunities to take hold of the game down the stretch and into overtime.

Now, if you think I'm going down the road of telling everyone to step back from the ledge and calm the hell down, think again. For all we know, this team could be teetering on the edge of crumbling and the remainder of this season may hang in the balance more than we could possibly know.

It's impossible to know how this team will respond to this recent adversity and I could just as easily see Iowa State rip off 5-6 wins in a row as I could see them dropping the same amount of contests.

I said I wasn't going to try and act like I know how to get Iowa State back in the win column, but I will say this; everyone has to be better. Steve Prohm has to come up with better schemes on both ends of the floor and do a better job of managing egos, bench minutes and the game as a whole.

Georges Niang has to not only be the alpha dog offensively, but a true leader defensively, in the huddle and the locker room. Monte Morris has to pick his spots and be a guiding force on each end of the floor. Jameel McKay has to both realize his limitations and come to terms with his specialized talents and accept himself for what he is — an exceptional athlete with a don't-quit motor. Abdel Nader just has to be better with everything, whether it be shot selection or simple defensive assignments. Matt Thomas, keep doing you. Deonte Burton has to be engaged and find ways to impact the game even when his shot isn't falling. Hallice Cooke has to rediscover his shooting stroke and find a way to be a steadying force that allows Prohm to rest Morris.

Above all else, Iowa State simply has to be better as a team. Individually, this team is situationally great. As a whole, they're situationally miserable. There has to be a way to find a balance between the two.

(Okay, so I couldn't completely resist from offering some shitty amateur advice)

As for a prediction? Who the hell knows. Kansas State appears to be better than many of us thought and while they don't exactly have any statement wins, I wouldn't say they have any bad losses either. They have 1 home loss on the year as it took 2 overtimes for West Virginia to put the Wildcats away in the conference opener for both teams.

Iowa State hasn't won in Manhattan since 2012, but I think this could be the year the Cyclones break that 3-game losing streak. Hell, give me Iowa State in a major bounce-back effort.

Iowa State 79 - Kansas State 76

Game Notes

Tip: 3 p.m. CST

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here

Kansas State SB Nation Site: Bring On the Cats