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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Drake

ISU looks to get the train back on the tracks in the biennial Cy-Dog showdown.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeye players made a bit of a splash this week, insinuating that Iowa-UNI is more of a rivalry than Iowa-Iowa State. That’s what Iowa State winning six of the last eight will do, I suppose.

On a similar train of thought, the Iowa State-Drake CyDog Showdown is much more of a rivalry than the CyHawk series. You see, competition breeds rivalry, and whereas Iowa State has won six of the last eight over the Hawks, they’ve simply split the last eight games with Drake 4-4. Welcome to the big show, boys.

Let’s not get it twisted, though. With Iowa State holding a 108-65 edge in the series, Drake is still ‘little brother’.

Last Time Out

I really don’t want to talk about Iowa State’s last game, but it has been nine days since the Clones last played. If you need a refresher, Iowa State lost 78-64 in Iowa City resulting in their first non-ranking in 63 polls. The Cyclones displayed some offensive offense, led many to believe the program was suffering from a disconnect, and while some fans jumped off the ledge, others took a more wait and see approach.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have yet to beat a D-1 opponent this season, and are coming off a loss at home to Jackson State last Saturday.

About Drake

Where to begin? Drake is 1-8 on the season with the lone win coming against D-3, Simpson College. Their former head coach, Ray Giacoletti resigned on December 6th. Enter former Iowa State assistant, Jeff Rutter. Rutter served as an assistant under both Greg McDermott and Fred Hoiberg in his time at Iowa State.

Drake comes in with the 287th ranked offense, 231st ranked defense and averages just 67 possessions per game, ranking 291st. The Bulldogs average just under 23 turnovers per game, shoot 31.6% from three point land, and make their offensive hay by getting to the free throw line more than 22 times per game.

Players to Watch

If Iowa State can stifle Reed Timmer and Billy Wampler, they should be able to shut down the Bulldogs. Timmer is a capable 6’1” guard who can score both inside the three-point line and outside of it. Meanwhile, Wampler is one of those shooters that you’d want to run off the three-point line. Billy shoots just 35% inside the arc, but 41.7% beyond it. Closeouts need to be crisp and under control against Wampler.

There are no real offensive threats on the interior, so this might be a good game to get Solomon Young some more run to get as much experience as possible before Big 12 play.

What to Expect

This shouldn’t be much of a game. I would look for Iowa State to push the tempo as much as possible, and try to run up the offensive numbers as best they can. It’s hard to learn much about a team in a game like this, but they can be important confidence boosters for a team that’s lost three of its last four.

If you’re a fan looking to see if improvement has been made, I would look at a few things. First, what type of shots are the Cyclones taking? If they’re getting out in transition, that’s great, but specifically what shots are they taking in the halfcourt? Are they settling for jumpers without ball movement just seconds into the shot clock? Are they running crisp offensive sets, getting the ball into the paint and getting open looks? Can the Cyclones start to knock down open three-point looks where they have struggled much of the season? Are the assist numbers up?

In a game like this, points shouldn’t be hard to come by, but look at how Iowa State gets those points. If they resolve the issues in the preceding paragraph, there’s more encouragement that the offense will translate against better opponents. If they’re scoring off of bad shots and one on one situations where they simply out man the Bulldogs, we can expect a regression when the competition stiffens.

Pick 3

  1. Iowa State forces the tempo to get >75 possessions
  2. Iowa State forces >20 turnovers
  3. Iowa State gets >15 assists

Game Notes

Game Time: Saturday, Dec. 17th, 6:00 p.m. CST

Line: Iowa State -20

TV/Webcast: MC22 (BJ Schaben, Paul Doerrfeld)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio App (John Walters, Eric Heft) Game Notes: Available here