Oh boy, it's an evened number year, so this must mean Iowa State is playing at Iowa in basketball this season. Some memorable things have happened on the anniversary of this game.
8 years ago, it was the first time I laid foot in Iowa City, and took in the game in person. Up to that point, I had been "meh" on the whole Iowa vs. Iowa State rivalary. Sure, it was fun to have something a little extra to cheer about, but I wasn't really that much into it. That was, until the 80+ year old usher talked mad shit before the game. MAD SHIT. A girl that we were with had her bag checked for security and the 80+ year old guy was like "They probably let you get away with anything up in Ames, but here, we check for this". He made some other snarky comments, all dead freaking serious. No wink at the end, no sacrasm, just straight hating in Ames, Iowa State, etc.
Then we got to our seats, where to my right were my friends, but to my left were two middle aged guys that just looked like they wanted to watch a basketball game. They didn't seem like too hardcore of fans, but just some buddies that were going to the game. If you recall, that 2002 game was a close one. And all I really know was from about halftime to the rest of the game, this guy to my left jawing at me (even though I had not said anything to him all night). I really can't remember all he said, as he had diarehha mouth for the most part, but all I really remember was being blown away that some guy my dad's age is talking hella shit to an 18 year old that was unprovoked.
Now, some of ya'll may read this and say "really? You were 18 and didn't say anything?". Honestly I didn't. All I wore to the game was an Iowa State hat, and was there with 4-5 friends, all of which were upperclassmen at Iowa State. Like I said before, I wasn't too into the rivalry. I didn't hate Iowa or Iowa fans, None of that. All I wanted to do was watch Iowa State play against a team of similar ability, in a venue that was reasonable distance from Ames. Overall it was a good trip, and nothing crazy happened, but it just blew me away how some grown ass people can act like some immature kids over sports.
From that point, "it was on", and it's really the basketball series (not the football series) that fueled my little ill will I have towards some Iowa fans.
So that was 2002. I was caught off guard and blown away, but ISU came out on top in a very close game. Fun stuff. We stayed the night with a person in our group's parents place in Cedar Rapids, had a bomb pancake breakfast, and all in all was a good time, despite getting the most head from an 80 year old and a 50 year old.
Fast forward to the 2008 game. Right around tipoff we were getting word that Gene Chizik was going to Auburn. I think it was at halftime or just after the game, it was all but confirmed. It was probably the crappiest moment for me in my realtivley young history of Cyclone fandom. Not only did the basketball team get blown out, but the guy who I had a lot of faith in, in terms of being the guy to "take Iowa State to the next level" was leaving. On top of that, I had a lot of things going on my personal life that honestly had me kind of depressed, and as sad as it sounded the timing of my personal life drama, the basketball team getting whooped, and the football coach bailing on the program just had me want to throw in the towel as a sports fan. Had the basketball team getting beat, or Chizik leaving happened at a different time, it would have been a lot different for me. When I go back and look at these things standalone, I can rationalize and get over it, but I remember having all of these things happen at once really throwing me for a whirl.
It was so sad, that when it was all official (the next day I believe), I went to the Ames airport to give Chizik a "you suck" sendoff. One of the most immature and stupidist things I have ever done. I just did not have a clear mindstate, and there wasn't anybody to really tell me before I did it how dumb it was.
So what am I trying to get at with all of this? It's that things have not always gone rosy when the Cyclones have traveled to Carver Hawkeye. In fact, I'll always associate this matchup with the 2002 game and also everything that was going on during 2008. And quite honestly, typing some of this stuff and recalling it, especially 2008, was kind of stomach turning for me. More about the 2010 game though:
Keys To The Game:
1. Three point shooting. I am not going to lie. I dislike teams that rely on the three-ball. I think you need a guy or two that can knock down some open threes, but I don't like these teams that want to throw it up there 20-30 times a game. That said, with the way this team is built, they need to shoot threes and they need to make them at a high percentage. Iowa State's field goal percentage from beyond the arc is about 40%, down from 46% just a few games ago. This team takes 20 three pointers per game. If they make 8 to 10 of these, it's all good. If it's more like 4-6, then we're in trouble. Iowa State is going into this game with a 7% higher eFG% than Iowa, and it's due to the 10% differential from Iowa in three point shooting.
2. Taking care of the ball. Iowa State is coming into this game turning the ball over about 3 less times than Iowa. On the flip side, Iowa averages about 8 steals per game, gets a steal on about 12% of possessions. Iowa State's opponents going into the game force a steal on about 7% of possessions on average. Iowa State is going to face more ball pressure and more pressing than they have before. It will be good to see how Iowa State handles this, because it will only get that much harder against pressing teams like K-State and Mizzou.
3. Staying out of foul trouble. Especially in the post. Jamie Vanderbeken and Calvin Godfrey have serious issues with getting into foul trouble in the paint. With a lack of depth in the front court, you don't want to have Railey play for 20-25 minutes. Railey can help out a ton in a 10-15 minute/game role, but asking more than that from him at this point is not fair.
4. Melvin Ejim needs to score. In the two games Iowa State has lost, he has scored only a combined 11 points on 25% shooting. In games Iowa State has won, he has averaged 16 points per game on 68% shooting. With virtually no scoring from the bench, Iowa State needs all five starters, but especially Ejim to score when called upon.
5. Play with the confidence they have shown at home. The first road outing went bad for this group. It's going to be a tougher environment tonight I think. This is a chance for these guys to show they can get it done on the road. It's the same game, and they need to play like it.
Iowa State's advantage coming into this game is shooting (higher eFG%) and taking care of the ball (lower TOV%). Iowa, due to their size, are doing better at rebounding and getting to the free throw line. It all has the makings of a coin flip game, that you have to give the slight edge to Iowa just because it's a home game. There are people out there that talk about rebounding, controlling the tempo, etc. If Iowa State shoots well, rebounding is not as huge of a factor, provided they can do a reasonable job on the defensive glass. Also, if Iowa State shoots well on offense, rebounds reasonably well on defense, and doesn't turn the ball over excessivley, they will control the tempo.
Against UNI, Iowa State controlled the tempo at the beginning when they were hitting shots. When UNI started getting offensive rebounds, they were able to slow the game down. If Iowa State does 1-5 tonight, they will control the pace, and they will win the game.
It's a tight game, and it's a game that Iowa State has not won at Carver Hawkeye since 2002. I think on paper, Iowa State is the slightly better team to be honest. But I also think that Iowa playing at home gives them a huge edge just with the fact that for 4 of the 8-9 guys that will play, its going to be their second college road game ever.
I think it's close throughout, but I'll go with Iowa by 8 points. Something like 64-56. I wish I could pick the 'Clones and hope I'm dead wrong. Game tips at 7:30pm CST on the Big 10 network.