I'm not trying to be "that guy", but a game that should've been a 20 point blowout, turned into an average win for Iowa State. Brackins led the way in the victory, starting off the game with an alley-oop and bringing some intensity to start the game offensively. After scoring 20 in the first half, Brackins finished with 28 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, and 1 steal on 9-13 shooting (4-5 from 3pt) in 36 minutes.
Overall it was a fun night at Hilton. The crowd was 13,000+. The bucket boys from Chicago performed. Jake Sullivan was hitting 3 pointers like mad during the breaks, winning dollars for Hy-Vee for someone. It was Craig Brackins poster night for season ticket holders. The football team came out at the court at halftime and got some props. Coach Rhoads told us again he's proud to be ISU's football coach. To the best of my knowledge, no-one died on the ice in the parking lot.
I think sometimes I get so wrapped up in the game, that I don't necessarily take the time to reflect on the other things that make for a fun time at the game, but tonight was not the case at all. Sometimes you have to realize that this is sports. There is more to life, and really this should be something that is fun.
I just really appreciate being able to have the opportunity to live a couple of miles away from Hilton, and having the ability to attend a majority of the home games. It makes for a fun winter, and there are certainly worse things I could be doing right now, than going to some basketball games. I think having this blizzard roll through, and spending the better part of the past few days inside my apartment has really allowed me to reflect and appreciate my time at Hilton. I hope all of you out there were able to be safe during this bad weather.
I talk a lot about the "Four Factors" on here, so below is how it looked tonight:
We shot better, took care of the ball better, and did a better job of getting to the line, which was good enough for the victory. Iowa did do a better job on the offensive boards than we did, and I'll touch on that more later.
On the next page, I'll get into what I liked and didn't like from tonight's game. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
What I Liked:
- Starting the game quickly. Brackins dunking on the first play was nice. Opening on a 12-4 run was also great. The fans got excited and it was fun to watch.
Playing with more energy. There was more diving and going for lose balls. Brackins and Hamilton actually attempted offensive rebounds. I loved the defensive play when Boozer dove at the courtside fans and knocked over a bunch of chairs. That type of play is contagious, and hopefully we can play more like that with other guys feeding off of it as well. We saw more of our guys attacking the hoop, and better boxing out, although the rebounding can still be a lot better.
Speeding up the tempo at times. There were times when the guys were flowing, and were able to get in transition. At other times they were not. Part of the problem was rebounding, which I will get to later on. When we're rebounding better, we can get out in transition more. When we're giving up offensive rebounds, then we cannot. Also, you have to force turnovers to get in transition as well. At times we pressed and were able to get turnovers, at other times when we pressed, we got exposed, giving up easy buckets in the paint. Still though, I think this team looks 10x better when they are in transition, playing a faster-paced game. They need to continue to find ways to play that style, because that's the style they're going to need to play in order to get as many wins as possible.
What I Didn't Like:
- Poor execution the last 4 minutes of the game... again! With 4:31 left, we were up 70-52... The game ended 81-71. Not acceptable at all. These guys still do not know how to close it out strong! There's NO WAY Iowa should be scoring 44 points in a half! ESPECIALLY when they are playing games when they're just getting into the 50s.
- Being too complacent with a lead. As ISU fans we see it all the time. They get to a 12-4 lead, but then allow Iowa to go on a 12-5 run. They get up to a 70-52 lead, but then allow Iowa to get as much back into it as they can, winning by only 10. You have to get that killer instinct. If this lead was any smaller and/or if ISU was playing a better team, this would've been another Northwestern or UNI game on our hands. We can't have that. This is a game that ISU should've won by 20.
- Poor rebounding. ISU got beat on the boards again. Iowa outrebounded ISU 29-27. Iowa also got 9 offensive rebounds to ISU's 5. Iowa had 16 2nd chance points, to ISU's 2! Gilstrap really gets it, and Brackins was more aggressive going for the boards. I just don't see how Hamilton, a guy that's logging 20 minutes and playing Center, is only getting 1 rebound the entire game. Yeah there was a lot of switching and Hamilton did guard their smaller guys at times, but still he should be getting more than 1 board.
I don't want to come off the wrong way. I'm glad this team won. They really needed it. At the same time, this is a team we should be much better than on paper, and there still are a lot of issues with this team. There has been some improvement, which I liked. Hopefully they can continue to improve and put together more of a complete game against Bradley. There is finals next week, so the guys aren't playing until a week from Sunday.