Iowa State coach Steve Prohm talks about the Cyclones’ upset loss to TCU on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum in Ames.
Tommy Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — Iowa State can go a long way toward making up for Saturday’s dud of a game at home against TCU by winning next Saturday at Kansas State.
It wouldn’t be total redemption because, as everyone knows, the Big 12 isn’t exactly a forgiving conference. But knock off the league leader on its home court and, just like that, Steve Prohm’s team has taken the first step in returning to title contention in this new-look league race where Kansas State (and not Kansas) is the team everyone’s chasing.
“We responded from Baylor and Kansas State (losses) really well. Now, we have to respond from this well,” Prohm said after Saturday’s 92-83 loss at Hilton Coliseum. “It may not be in wins. It may be just playing well. Hopefully, we can go on the road and get it done.”
It better be with wins if the Cyclones plan to be in the league title conversation, because Kansas State enters the week two games up in the loss column. Instead of Kansas being the Big 12’s hunted, it’s the Wildcats.
“Coming into the season, I knew they returned everybody from that Elite Eight team,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of the Kansas State team that beat his guys Saturday in Waco. “It’s a team that not only could win the Big 12, but could win a national championship, because you don’t normally return that kind of experience with that kind of talent.
“Coach (Bruce) Weber has done a great job with them.”
It seems like only a couple years ago that Wildcats fans wanted Weber gone. How quickly stuff changes — including the Big 12 standings.
Kansas State 8-2 in the league, while Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas are tied for second at 7-4. Can the Cyclones get back into the title fray? Absolutely.
Step One: Defense
TCU’s 53.2 percent shooting was the reason Iowa State gave up the most points at Hilton since a 94-89 loss against Baylor in Prohm’s first season. A total of 44 Horned Frogs points came in the paint, and before you clamor for an additional post player on the floor, remember this:
Scoring in the post starts with not allowing players getting the ball in the post. It starts with perimeter defense — and on Saturday, Iowa State’s wasn’t very good.
Of TCU’s 22 baskets under the hoop, 17 came from guards. The Cyclones’ pick-and-roll defense has to improve.
Step Two: Offense
Was it just a hiccup, Iowa State’s perimeter shooters all having less than stellar games on the same day? Probably, considering it’s the first time that’s happened in a while.
One-for-11 three-point shooting in the first half, and 29.2 percent for the game by a team that routinely plays four guards at the same time won’t cut it.
It wasn’t like the Cyclones didn’t get good shots, because mostly they did. They just missed them. Plain and simple, and the best way to remedy that is to keep shooting.
Step Three: Beat the Wildcats
At Texas on Tuesday. Home against Iowa State on Saturday.
After that, home games remain against Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma. On the road, Kansas State still must face West Virginia, Kansas and TCU.
Go ahead and W and L the final eight games. I’ve got Weber’s team going 5-3 the remainder of the regular season, which means finishing the season at 13-5 … And which could mean the possibility of a four-way tie, according to mred’s 2019 Big 12 men’s basketball bracket generator.
So if you’re an Iowa State fan, all’s not lost after what happened Saturday. Being assigned to the Des Moines NCAA Tournament Regional became iffy, but USA Today bracketologist Shelby Mast had the Cyclones a No. 4 seed on his Sunday morning predictions. He’s got them facing 13th-seed Vermont in the opening game in the NCAA East Regional in Hartford, Connecticut.
“I’m proud of where we’re at right now,” Prohm said in the interview room after Saturday’s game regarding the state of his team. “We probably have 20 different views in the room.
“This team is a team, nationally, that people know is a really good basketball team; that’s without a doubt.”
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register