Iowa State’s 59-62 loss to Ohio State left most of the fan base either sad, mad, turning to alcohol, or some combination of the 3. But in all honesty, this game was a perfect amalgamation of the season: We saw a rebounding disparity (-6), an inability to protect the paint, and no serious halftime adjustments, especially to counter Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson.
It was a perfect storm that highlighted exactly how to attack an Iowa State team that struggled with defending skilled post players and rebounding. The Cyclones allowed 12 offensive rebounds, including a few on several key possessions down the stretch. All year long we knew that part of the reason this group lost game was because of rebounding, and to prove it, I charted the rebounding totals, if they won or lost, and if the game was against a Non-Conference opponent or Conference opponent. Here’s what I found:
- In Non-Conference Wins, Iowa State held an average rebounding margin of +7.3
- In 2 Non-Conference Losses, Iowa State was out-rebound by an average margin of 9 (note that Iowa out-rebounded ISU by 24... Sheesh)
- In Conference Wins, the Cyclones held a slim +.83 average rebounding margin over opponents
- In Conference Losses, Iowa State was out-rebounded by a 4.6 average margin
Iowa State was out-rebounded by 6 against Ohio State, and guess what the average rebounding margin was taking into account the entire year?
-5.58, which we’ll just call... 6.
So yeah, not a coincidence.
We also knew coming in that Iowa State lacked a dynamite post defender. Before you get all up in arms about not giving Lard or Conditt credit, Lard couldn’t stay on the floor all year for a wide variety of reasons, and Conditt is just a freshman who is still learning.
So that leaves our hero, Michael Jacobson... On an island... Against this guy...
And I’ll credit both Mikey and Wesson. I thought Jacobson battled as well as he could given that Wesson outweighs him by 40 pounds, and Wesson played extremely well given he had a 32% usage rating while playing 31 minutes (for reference, Lebron James averaged a 31.6% usage rate this year).
Put yourself in Prohm’s shoes as you realize that their best player is out-playing your post defenders. The obvious counter is to send help whenever Wesson touches it anywhere near the paint, and force Ohio State’s guards to prove they could make jump shots. I’m not comfortable telling myself that they doubled enough or made any sort of adjustment on defense that I don’t bring this up in the first place. The fact of the matter is that Iowa State didn’t send enough different looks at Ohio State’s best player and that’s one of the main reasons we all drank in sadness on Friday instead of happiness.
Now, all that being said, Iowa State had an incredibly poor night on offense. But again, I could point to stretches in games like the loss to Kansas State at home, Arizona in Maui, and in Waco against Baylor where this team went through brutal cold stretches. We also saw incredible stretches of near-perfect offense in games at Kansas State, in Hilton against Kansas, and in the Sprint Center against Baylor where the Cyclones looked unstoppable. So which offense would we get? Unfortunately, we got the one where 4 of the 5 Iowa State starters combined for 10 points (s/o Marial Shayok, the most consistent player on the team all year, showing out in his final game to the tune of 23 points).
Steve Prohm has quite a few questions to answer this off-season, and the first one I would address starts with asking how this team can remain more consistent. Do you experiment with more lineups earlier in the year? Do you make a more concerted effort to crash the glass on defense? Do you fire yourself and hire Fred? LOL. Either way, there’s plenty of work to be done this summer, but also reason to be optimistic. I can’t wait to see what year 2 brings for both Tyrese Haliburton and George “lock me in Seasons and make me eat my way out” Conditt. The addition of Prentiss Nixon should help fill the gap filled by Nick Weiler-Babb, and if either of THT or Wigginton return, the offense should be just as explosive.
Until next November...