But just how bad? Try “Generationally”.
The Cyclones had a historically poor game trying to put the ball in the basket, setting a new Hilton Coliseum record for fewest points scored by the home team. Not to be outdone, Iowa State also set a season low in rebounding differential (-11), and attempted the most threes this season (26), despite only hitting 3 of them. The Cyclones also made only 17 Field Goals, which is the second fewest this year.
Offense has been difficult to come by this year, but this recent stretch has fans and players alike pulling their hair out trying to will in any attempt from beyond the arc. Iowa State is now 24-93 from 3 point land over their last 4 games, a stunning 25.8%. The Cyclones are shooting a lackluster 32% from behind the arc this season, good for 244th best in all of college basketball. Indeed this performance against TCU is not a one-off occurrence, but a growing continuation of poor offensive execution and scheme and serves as confirmation that Iowa State is a poor offensive basketball team.
In an effort to capture just how bad things have been, I set out to try and figure out exactly what was wrong with Iowa State’s first offensive output in the first half against TCU. In charting Iowa State’s first half field goal attempts, I wanted to capture a feel for what kind of looks the Cyclones could generate, and to see if they were putting guys in position to do what they do best and subjectively decide if the shot was “good” or not. Situation, time left on the shot clock, and if the shot was contested or not all factored into this measure. Some liberties were taken here - a wide open three by Kalscheur is likely considered an acceptable outcome, despite the fact Gabe has struggled from deep. Tyrese Hunter shooting a contested three is not something deemed acceptable, though Brockington’s well-guarded jumpers (usually accurate) are oftentimes rushed or heavily guarded and therefore considered a poor shot regardless of outcome. This is subjective, and by no means perfect.
The results were mixed. I started with using simple measures such as player, location (paint, corner 3, etc.), contested shot or not, and make/miss. I used each measure to then come up with an answer to whether or not I could determine the shot was “good” or not (fouls generated were included but only on shot attempts and turnovers were not noted, as the primary goal was to grade shot selection).
Out of the 28 “looks” Iowa State had in the first half, I counted 21 contested shots, 10 total makes, and only 13 “good” shots, furthering the hypothesis that Iowa State’s offense is unable to generate makeable baskets.
Only 46% of possessions ended in an acceptable glance at the rim, resulting in Iowa State shooting 40% from the field on 25 attempts (in the first half). For context, Iowa State has only won 3 games this year shooting 40% or below from the field, and of that list, only Texas Tech belongs to a major conference.
As the interwebs have also been quick to point out, the Big 12 is also quite good. Some would even call it the “best” conference. Let this snapshot from friend of the program, Fran Fraschilla, reinforce that opinion:
However, it is still well within my right to call to attention Iowa State’s lack of offensive production while also acknowledging just how damn good the Big 12 has been this year. These things are not mutually exclusive.
Where are Tristan Enaruna’s Second Half Minutes?
Another point that was brought up after the game was the seeming disappearance of Tristan Enaruna’s minutes in the second half. Enaruna has seemingly been planted on the bench in what feels like most of conference play, despite his 103.7 Offensive Rating he has accumulated over the course of the year. Enaruna has carved out a role as a reliable forwards who can create for himself in a pinch and provide switchable help on defense.
Otz addressed Enaruna and Conditt’s 2nd half playing time after the game:
“We thought we were going with the guys that could spread the floor more, provide more 3-point shooting & the ability to space the court - because certainly that was factoring in to the challenges we had.”
Iowa State’s offensive issues seemingly forced Otz to throw the breaks on Enaruna and Conditt and run smaller lineups, though that clearly did not work (see: double digit home loss to unranked TCU). I don’t doubt him for trying anything at all, but Enaruna appears to be a car worth keeping out of the garage.
This team is at the precipice of falling apart on the offensive end - The offense seemingly leaves the defense out to dry multiple times a week - and if they are unable to generate quality shots, this team will quickly become an afterthought. Iowa State had exactly 0 fast break points on Saturday while the defense forced 12 turnovers, yet another indicator of the offense leaving the defense hanging. Holding your opponent to 59 points should create a great chance to win a basketball game, we just need the other end of the floor to hold up their end.
Seemingly, Twitter has also decided to point out that fans are not allowed to be displeased with team performance this year due to the fact we won two games last year. On one hand, this program is well ahead of schedule, on the other, how cool is it that these guys have been so great this year? The fact that fans are beginning to raise expectations and cheer with extended enthusiasm is remarkable. Think back to last year’s show of apathy not seen by this fanbase in 15 years. I’ll take slight displeasure over apathy any day, wins and losses aside. As a whole, I think the fans have been great this year. A relaxed approach with minimal expectation but a hunger to compete has been a treat to be part of. Knowing this team can play better basketball than they have been is a great feeling!
Oklahoma State Preview
The Cowboys (10-8, 3-4) come into Wednesday’s matchup limping away from a 51-56 loss to Chris Beard and co. down in Austin. As the 50th ranked team via KenPom, the Cowboys hold the 7th best defense in the country, and are extremely effective at forcing turnovers. Oklahoma State is a dangerous team, and have shown their defensive prowess by holding Baylor to only 54 points.
Senior guard Bryce Williams leads the Cowboys on 10.6 PPG on 37% from the floor. Williams put up 29 points against Cleveland State earlier this year, but has struggled in conference play. Second leading scorer and Williams’ back-court running mate Avery Anderson also presents a challenge for the Clones. Coincidentally, Williams ALSO scored 29 points against Cleveland State, but put up 26 against Xavier a game prior.
Oklahoma State likes to get up and down, sitting in the top third of tempo and possession length. They are an average offensive team that should have difficulty scoring against Iowa State’s “No Middle” defense. The Cowboys quicker tempo may help open up Iowa State’s offense if they don’t get back quickly enough on defense.
KenPom predicts a 62-60 win for Oklahoma State at home, and I envision something similar. If Iowa State can get Gabe Kalscheur going early and Izaiah Brockington is his usual self, I like the Cyclones. If not, we will be re-visiting Iowa State’s offensive struggles again next week.
Iowa State: 65
Oklahoma State: 60