This may ruffle a few feathers, and I'm ok with that. Iowa State had a big win last night and everything should have been copacetic in Cyclone Nation, yet I found myself having to log off Cyclone Twitter last night because in the midst of a streak where the Cyclones have beaten two top five teams in eight days, people just couldn't help themselves.
I think Iowa State fans make success harder than it has to be. Fred Hoiberg had exactly one 4-game Big 12 winning streak in his five year career as Iowa State's head coach. In 2014, the Cyclones won home games against Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia as well as a road game at TCU. Texas was the only ranked team in that stretch at #19.
In his first year as head coach, Steve Prohm has recently led this team to home wins against #1 Oklahoma and #4 Kansas while controlling back to back road games at Kansas State and TCU from start to finish.
"Man, I wish Iowa State would just control a game start to finish for once." /checks last 2 conference ROAD games pic.twitter.com/N0r5aqbnll— Jayhawk Tears (@tom_danielson) January 24, 2016
Also in this 4-game stretch, Iowa State's adjusted defensive efficiency rating has climbed from 123rd to 69th (nice). So why must we as fans take to Twitter and comment sections of articles to question coaching decisions, lineups and rotations, and over-analyze every timeout-to-timeout stretch of play? Just two weeks ago, Prohm deleted social media apps from his phone because the same fans that are questioning and micro-analyzing every move now were berating him then.
Things started off swimmingly for Prohm in Ames. You don't stir the pot when you're 9-0 and coming into a senior laden situation like he did. Then, the Cyclones hit a rough patch. Prohm grabbed the wheel on the hype train and promptly got it back on the rails. What more do you want from him? Why can't we just enjoy having a top 15 basketball team? Why is success so hard for some of us?
While we're on the topic of Twitter, I tweeted yesterday that I think maybe some more people should follow the lead of Georges and Prohm and take some social media hiatuses as well. That was probably a little harsh, and probably even a bit hypocritical, so I took my own advice and avoided tweeting during the game because I too can be emotional and irrational at times, like most fans.
I'm normally not one to suggest that the guys shouldn't be allowed to tweet or whatever, but I've seen a fair number of tweets and snapchats (some have since been deleted) from the last 24 hours that would imply that there's some unrest within the locker room. It's not that I'm opposed to players and their families using social media, but I am opposed to them using it to publicly air any and all grievances and dirty laundry that they might have. It's not beneficial to anyone. If this is how it's going to be when they're playing good ball, I can't fathom what might happen if they hit another rough patch.
Who knew backup quarterback syndrome was a thing in basketball too? Hallice Cooke, Jordan Ashton, and Simeon Carter are the most popular players on the team with a portion of the fanbase. I think we should all take a step back and let the coach manage his own bench. If you think Prohm isn't aware that Monte Morris played all 40 minutes last night, or that fatigue and a lack of depth have reared their ugly heads at points this season, you're delusional.
"Man, I wish we could blow somebody out so our reserves could get some minutes." Seems to be a popular narrative on social media this season. So has "why don't we play (insert player)" when Iowa State is struggling. You know what? The Big 12 is hard. You're not going to blow everyone out. How do you get a big lead? You play your best players.
Take the TCU game for example. Most of that game was played in the 10-15 point range. What if Prohm had thrown a couple other guys out there and it becomes a 5-9 point game. Anything can happen at that point. We've seen it first hand.
How quickly we forget last year when Texas hit a plethora of threes to close a 21-point second half deficit to an uncomfortable 3-point Iowa State win. Or Baylor hitting what felt like 37 threes in a row to break Iowa State's home winning streak. It's not like this team isn't susceptible to runs. Even if we win a close one, people would be killing him because they couldn't put a team like TCU away. Some of the fans put the coach in an impossible situation. I think it's exhausting.
You don't force feed minutes to players to "get them playing time." You play to win games, you play matchups, and you ride hot hands. It's a team game, and what's best for the team is winning. You want the coach to take risks in the midst of a Big 12 race with a top 15 team and a passionate, yet increasingly volatile fanbase? Please.
Don't twist my words. This team and program will need Hallice Cooke and I hope he knows that.
I'm reminded of Nazareth Mitrou-Long's sophomore season when he found himself in a shooting slump. I'm confident Cooke will come back from this, as Naz did, and I'm even more confident that Prohm will know when he's ready to do so. He sees the team practice every day. He sees the progress and ability of each player. He's won back to back conference road games and back to back games against top 5 opponents. I think he'll know when to pull the trigger. Hallice has 2+ years left to make his mark in Ames and I look forward to watching it whenever that time may come.
But, but, but, what about next year? How are these guys supposed to get any better? I don't know, practice? Off-season workouts? Non-conference games? Playing time as it comes? I don't think Prohm can coach for next year right now. Not with a chance to win the league and a chance to make a deep tournament run. Hell, we don't even know what a lineup might look like next year. What if we throw out this?
What if we live in a world where Carter/Cooke don't start next year... PG: Morris/Jackson SG: Naz SF: Thomas PF: Burton C: Malou— Jayhawk Tears (@tom_danielson) January 24, 2016
You don't think there's time to build chemistry, time for players to improve, and time to see what next year's lineup rotations might look like, you know...after this season? Iowa State isn't a blue blood. Preseason top 10 teams don't come around often. Stop focusing on next year when one of the greatest seasons in Iowa State history is happening RIGHT NOW. You think Georges Niang, Jameel McKay and Abdel Nader are focusing on next year?
Speaking of Georges Niang. I think it's absolutely maddening that teams are allowed to defend him like we've seen the last three games. Oklahoma, TCU and Kansas all made it a point to get physical with him as soon as he crosses half court, to the point where we saw Buddy Hield and a variety of Kansas defenders simply bear hug him to deny him the ball. Here's a tip, if it's pass interference/defensive holding in football, it's a foul in basketball.
Clearly, coaches are talking to Big 12 officials about Georges' footwork because nothing else explains the recent spike in travel calls. I hope Iowa State gets the same courtesy of talking to officials about this trend.
Alright, I'm done bitching.
Not storming the court last night was fantastic. Not because I'm anti-court storming. In fact I might be as pro-court storming as they come. I loved it because KU fans seemingly wanted nothing more than to bitch about Iowa State court storming. I think if Cyclone Alley stormed the court after every home win in a season except Kansas, I'd be fine with it.
Iowa is a really good basketball team, and I think that's good for Iowa State. Have you seen all these tweets today about how Iowa State has three top 5 wins and nobody else has more than one? That doesn't happen if Iowa doesn't go on the run they're currently on. Iowa being really good is actually a bit beneficial for the Cyclones. That win looks better and better.
Monte Morris is that dude. I could read every article ever written about him and I would still think he hasn't received enough national attention. Is he perfect? No. Is he the best point guard in college basketball? Debatable. But he's a winner, he's a leader, he's a calming presence on a team that has a tendency to move too fast at times, and his game-in, game-out consistency is a breath of fresh air on a team that has been known to have some dud-games in past years.
Again, these are just things that I think and I'm sure many of you will disagree. But can we agree to just enjoy what we have as fans right now? This team is great, and some of these guys may eventually have their numbers hanging in the rafters in Hilton. Stop the emotional overreactions and cliff dives after losses, stop the unnecessary questions and criticism and just be supportive and cheer for your team like fans are supposed to do. We can all do better.
A former Cyclone coach was famously quoted as saying winning was more relief than it was fun. That's not how it's supposed to be. Let's change that.