Kansas did whatever they wanted en route to a 79-53 shellacking of Iowa State inside a building in Hilton Coliseum that now has more in common with the hotel chain than Allen Fieldhouse. The Cyclones are now 7-7 and almost certainly will not be dancing in March this season. Iowa State has dug a hole that is now too deep to dig out of, barring a Big 12 Tournament Title.
Now, who’s fault is it? Prohm’s? The player’s? Jamie Pollard’s? Cyclone Larry’s? For all you Prohm haters out there, listen closely. There’s no way he saw Cam Lard, THT, and Lindell all leaving last year. Most of us didn’t see it coming, and there’s a high probability he didn’t either. He’s not free from criticism, but the man has won two Big 12 Titles and deserves the benefit of the doubt. The Greg McDermott/Wayne Morgan era, this is not.
However, you have to work within the confines of what you have, and that’s what he is doing this year. Compare this year’s team to any squad Iowa State has put on the floor in the Hoiberg/Prohm eras and tell me what you see. Does this team scream Big 12 Championship? They don’t.
The reason most of the fan base is so exasperated is because as of late, Prohm’s teams have not done the little things right: Defend Hilton Coliseum, play a fun, fast paced style of basketball, but most of all: Competing night in and night out (at least they were competitive against Florida A&M amiright?). The Cyclones have now dropped the two biggest home games of the year— Kansas and Iowa—by a combined score of 42 points.
On to the actual game.
Iowa State’s inability to get out and run (2 fast break points) played a part in their demise last night. Kansas did an excellent job of getting back in transition and slowing down a key part of Iowa State’s offense. Secondly, Kansas’ comfort level in the half court was miles above what Iowa State has shown this year. The Cyclones have done a decent job of generating looks this season, but have been unable to hit the broad side of a barn. Even looking at the last 5 years paints a picture that I probably don’t need to tell you: Iowa State cannot shoot 3’s.
Even when Iowa State has generated good looks, they simply have not had guys that can knock down outside looks with any sort of consistency. Even the new guys have struggled this year. Caleb Grill is shooting 27% from 3 (38% in HS), Tre Jackson is shooting 25%, Nixon is shooting 26%, and Bolton is shooting 28%. No amount of coaching or scheming can make up for guys throwing up bricks.
The obvious pivot to a lack of outside shooting is to look inside. Well that didn’t go great last night, either. Kansas won the points in the paint battle by a 12 point margin (30 to 18), and a simple eye test will tell you that Kansas got whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it. The Cyclones countered their lack of size against Kansas Center Udoka Azubuike by doubling every time he caught the ball in the paint.
Now, when you double in the paint, the goal is to get the Big to throw the ball back out or tempt him to make an ill-advised cross-court pass. You do this by sagging down into the lane to leave someone out of the Big’s line of vision open. What you absolutely, under any circumstances, not even if there’s a fire, are not allowed to do is give up a play at the rim. The Cyclones did it twice in the above gifs, and then got so mixed up on a the subsequent rotation in the other one, that you had 2 guys running at one Kansas player, eventually leading to Tre Jackson getting shaken out of his shoes for a Kansas 3. Iowa State already has so little room for error that screwing up these simple rotations make things that much more difficult to overcome. If this team even wants to compete for the rest of the year, it starts with doing the little things right, and they have not. You have to make your open three’s. You can’t screw up communication on defense. You have to rebound the basketball.
The Cyclones face an uphill climb the rest of the season. With a brutal schedule on the horizon, there is no longer any room for error. The good news is that in the Big 12, there are plenty of opportunities to make some noise. The Clones have another great opportunity Saturday night.