Tuesday night’s 76-79 loss to TCU highlighted a few key things about this Iowa State team. Most notably, this team does not have the talent to play anything less than a perfect game to scrape out a win. We’ve now seen this on display for three straight games. West Virginia was a winnable game, Oklahoma was a winnable game, and this TCU game had me convinced for the first time all year that we would play an incomplete game and still find a way to win. Alas, as sure as Steve Prohm wakes up every morning and puts on chapstick, Iowa State went on a 9 minute field goal drought ending with 28 seconds left and the Cyclones lost... Again.
Oh, and to make things even worse, the Clones were shooting 60%(!!!) from the field just before the drought started.
Here are some of the shots the Cyclones attempted during their 9 minute drought:
And my personal favorite: Rasir Bolton electing to bowl down the lane on a 1 on 3 that resulted in a block.
Not pictured are Solo missing a bunny jump hook from 5 feet, Bolton airballing a 23 footer, and Tyler Harris’ blocked 3 point attempt, among others.
The Clones just couldn’t generate good looks against the TCU defense. The best offensive effort we saw in the last 9 minutes was Bolton driving into traffic looking for the refs to call a cheap foul. Sometimes it worked, but the offense hit a wall as a whole.
NOW, all that being said, the only stat that really mattered was this:
TCU Offensive Rebounds: 21
Iowa State Defensive Rebounds: 23
The Cyclones were absolutely manhandled on the glass. TCU had 20 second chance points. 6’8” Soloman Young had 2 rebounds in 20 minutes of playing time. Hell, even Nate Jenkins had 1 rebound and he wasn’t even in the game long enough to record a single minute of playing time on the box score!!!
While rebounding can often be attributed to lack of positional awareness and effort, I also attribute Tuesday’s shellacking on the boards to a lack of roster flexibility. Coach Prohm did not play George Conditt and Soloman Young together, and typically doesn’t. This is very obviously because playing them together would clog the floor on offense and doesn’t provide mobility on defense. Iowa State is missing a “tweener” forward who can make the hustle plays, clean up rebounds, and provide energy (think Dustin Hogue). Put yourself in Steve Prohm’s shoes: You have exactly two available big men with Xavier Foster’s injury and you know you’re getting out-worked on the glass. Is the right option to sacrifice that switchability on defense and spacing on offense in order to fix a rebounding problem that opens up an entire new set of issues?
Iowa State has neither the talent nor flexibility to move people around, get creative, and find different ways to win basketball games. In year’s past we’ve seen Prohm and Hoiberg teams alike tinker with lineups, move guys around. Nick Weiler Babb during the 2017 Big 12 Tournament is a great example. Dustin Hogue is another. Both were versatile players with differing skillsets that found ways to contribute and do multiple things. Who is that player on this team? The sooner the Cyclones figure that out, that better.
Oh, and if that guy isn’t on this team, that needs to be priority number one this offseason for Steve Prohm.
- I was one of 7 Iowa State fans at the game in Fort Worth on Tuesday, and TCU’s court is as bright in person as it is on TV. If you’re making a trip to see a game at Schollmaier Arena, bring sunglasses.
- Rasir Bolton continues his best impression of Russell Westbrook light: 26 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 turnovers, and multiple decisions that made me put my head in my hands. Still, his ability to get to the rim and draw contact was a bright spot (13-13 FTs) and kept the game close.
- This had to have been Soloman Young’s worst game as a Cyclone, given his increased usage and scoring load this year. The guy was unplayable for most of the game, missed bunnies, didn’t rebound, and looked completely out of sync. I have no doubt he will bounce back, but a tough game for the Senior, nonetheless.
- Jaden Walker continues to struggle to take care of the basketball (team high 3 TOs). His development will be something to keep an eye on as the season moves along.