There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult season for Iowa State basketball. Despite the emergence of Tyrese Haliburton as a potential lottery pick in the NBA draft and contributions in spurts from the younger players, the Cyclones are sitting at 9-12 overall and 2-6 in Big 12 play. Unfortunately for the coaching staff, they are in a no-win position.
Fans are clamoring for changes, but they aren’t in practice every day. If the staff doesn’t feel they can change anything, they run the risk of looking disinterested or incompetent. But we can’t keep doing the same things with the same result, so Steve Prohm elected to make a significant lineup change for Saturday’s clash at Texas.
Freshman Tre Jackson made his first start in place of Prentiss Nixon, and played nearly the entire game. Basically, only 6 Cyclones saw the floor, with Nixon limited to just 11 minutes and George Conditt left on the bench in favor of a combo of Solomon Young and/or Michael Jacobson. And against Texas, Iowa State shot 7-13 from 3 point range and outrebounded Texas despite the smaller lineup 30-29.
They led at the under 4 minute media timeout and nearly stole a victory on the road. The biggest problems plaguing the season have been “buried under few layers of freezer burn” level cold 3 point shooting, and inability to pick up rebounds. If the purpose of the change was to clean up these issues, the early returns look good.
The big question is, where do we go from here? It seems like Coach Prohm is going to roll out Haliburton, Jackson, Rasir Bolton, Zion Griffin, and Solomon Young until someone needs a breather. As the postseason becomes more unlikely, we might as well stick with the guys who will go to war for each other above all else.
It’s past time to wait for guys we think can shoot to have shots start falling. Prentiss Nixon will have to accept less minutes or be more selective with his shot. George Conditt will have to get stronger with the ball. Caleb Grill and Terrence Lewis will have to show more consistency to find the floor.
Hopefully, Saturday was a sign that only 1 big man should be on the floor at a time. Tre Jackson probably wasn’t expecting to play nearly 40 minutes, but he shouldn’t have problems adjusting to a heavier workload. After a trip to West Virginia on Wednesday, there will be opportunities to pick up some wins against the bottom half of the Big 12.
Let’s roll with our best shot makers (Bolton and Haliburton), our most aggressive big man (Young), and 2 wings who will go all-out (Jackson and Griffin). Everyone else can fall into line from there. The new-look Cyclones could be 1 win away from gaining confidence. Here’s hoping if we go down, we go down swinging.