The Iowa State basketball season officially starts this Friday with preseason All-American Monte Morris and a bevy of talented seniors looking to make some noise in the Big 12. A couple of years ago, I created a Cyclone version of NBA JAM, imaginatively called CY JAM, and it was a smash hit, selling thousands of fake copies. Fans were able to play as some of Iowa State's most iconic players of the past century and fan favorites from recent teams, plus the Spirited! duo of Cy and Clone.
Now for the anticipated sequel.
CY JAM 2 adds even more Iowa State legends, plus a bunch of secret players accessible only by password. NBA JAM had music legends, politicians, football players, and more, so CY JAM 2 dug into Cyclone history to find some of the most skilled players with special powers and a will to win. Let's look at the sixteen players of CY JAM 2.
Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock
For a school in the middle of corn fields, Iowa State has a solid history of pulling great players out of the northeast, from Bill Cain to Jamaal Tinsley to these two. The fun backcourt of Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock rustled up some surprise upsets during Coach Wayne Morgan's uneven tenure, including a 2005 road win at Kansas in overtime. Their freewheeling style and flypaper hands delivered steal after steal and both finished high in the school record books for steals in a season. Plus, who can forget Stinson's ubiquitous headband? He probably didn't even take it off to shower.
John Crawford and Jack Trice
John Crawford became the first black varsity basketball player for Iowa State in 1955 and earned All-Big 8 honors in his senior season. He teamed up with Gary Thompson to deliver the first ranked team in school history and they memorably knocked off Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in 1957. Since the original NBA JAM had quarterback Warren Moon--who became the first black quarterback elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame--as a playable character, naturally Jack Trice was the perfect fit to complete this pioneering duo. They cannot be counted out of any game due to their vast reserves of courage.
(When researching this, I found a player on the Iowa State 1932-33 freshman team named Mundy who could have been the first black varsity player if not for the abhorrent "Gentleman's Agreement" to bar all black players in the Big Six. He never had a chance.)
Stacy Frese and Megan Taylor
The Iowa State women's basketball team used to have terrible teams and even worse fan support. Enter Coach Bill Fennelly and the dynamic duo that led Iowa State to unprecedented heights, racking up milestone after milestone. Point guard Stacy Frese slithered and threw her diminutive frame around in the lane while Megan Taylor stalked the outside and splashed in shot after shot. Win after win, the onions were being chopped, culminating in the landmark upset of UConn in the Sweet 16. Given their special skills, it was no accident since onions are toxic to dogs.
Jamie Pollard and Royce White
NBA JAM games traditionally feature prominent politicians as hidden characters, but with the awful election season and ineligibility of Giant Meteor, we threw in Athletic Director Jamie Pollard instead. Pollard has spearheaded many prominent initiatives during his eleven years in Ames from bowling in Jack Trice Stadium to the I-STATE logo. The enigmatic Royce White's flamboyant play on the court jumpstarted Fred Hoiberg's coaching stint and his ability to see the entire court at once led to many highlight plays during his lone season in Ames. Both players share excellent vision, but White's overall excellence helps mask some of Pollard's weakness on the court.
Hercle Ivy and Victor Alexander
The 1970s had some truly awful basketball and luck, but there was clearly an investment being made in the program. One bright spot was the prolific scoring of Hercle Ivy, who averaged nearly thirty points a game during the 1974-75 season during an era with no three-point shot. About fifteen years later, a burly center from Detroit named Victor Alexander tried his best to match Ivy's output. As a senior in 1990-91, he nearly averaged a double-double with 23.4 points and 9 rebounds per game. Talk about buckets all day long with these two.
Rahshon Clark and Clayton Anderson
Fans still speak of Rahshon Clark's dunks in hushed tones, but many don't remember he was also named to the Big 12 All-Defensive team as a senior. His versatile game and bouncy legs have a perfect companion in someone who laughs at the very concept of gravity. Presenting astronaut Clayton Anderson. Yes, Anderson's handle and outside shot are iffy, but his hops make up for it. The vintage NASA jet-propulsion backpack helps him provide a tough defensive presence around the basket, allowing Clark to gamble on steals.
Kelvin Cato and Dedric Willoughby
Both players were toiling away at obscure colleges (South Alabama for Cato, New Orleans for Willoughby) before Tim Floyd brought them to Ames and in their first season, they ended a long streak of futility for Iowa State by winning the final Big 8 Tournament Championship. The barely contained fury of Cato and the sweet-shooting stroke of Willoughby form a potent duo with the ability to stay in any game against more powerful teams, thanks to their underdog drive.
Waldo Wenger and Stuart Nezlek
When you want to dazzle with skill, you have to go big. Waldo Wenger became the first All-American in Iowa State basketball history after barely making the freshman team in 1931. His sophomore season started with Wenger shooting at the wrong basket, but from there he quickly became one of the top scorers in the conference. Last season, Stuart Nezlek slid into the token tall white guy spot left vacant by the sorely missed Georgios Tsalmpouris and quickly became a fan favorite. As a senior this year, Nezlek will have to balance the demands of fame with his NBA aspirations.
Many, many more talented players just missed the cut. Who would you pick from this lineup?
CONCEPT HELMET OF THE WEEK
In case you haven't heard, the Chicago Cubs ended their Iowa State-esque drought by winning the World Series last week. Two of Iowa State's most successful baseball alumni are Dick Bertell and Bob Locker, who both played for the Cubs, and the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines have been affiliated with the Cubs since 1981. Thus, here's a concept that honors the Cubs. Call it the CyCubs helmet. (This one is for you, Great-Grandma Kagavi.)
JACK TRICE RESEARCH NOTE
As a black player, Jack had difficulty finding lodging on road trips and the black experience persisted after his death due to Jim Crow laws. Travel was so arduous in certain parts of the country that The Negro Motorist Green-Book, first published in 1936, served as a guide for safe travel so that black people knew which places would let them sleep, eat, get gas, and maybe, just maybe, not get murdered. Read more here.
Do you have any original 1920s Iowa State artifacts? Drop me a line on Twitter or email joshua.t (AT) kagavi.com. Help reveal new insights into Jack Trice's life.
TEACH ME SOUNDS
I was born broken, better known by the complicated medical term "deaf," and need you to teach me basic sounds in written form. For this week:
Teach me the sound of a basketball going through a chain net.
Give your best version (turn of phrase or onomatopoeia) in the comments.
Kagavi's Cyclone Soup will appear throughout the remainder of the 2016 football season. Follow him on Twitter here.