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Know Thy Enemy: Iowa State Cyclones

An Open Game Thread will be up in just a little while, but for now take a peek at the answers me and CrossCyed of Clone Chronicles exchanged about tonight's game between the Kansas Jayhawks and Iowa State Cyclones.

For my answers to his questions, click here.

1) Iowa State started off the year slowly, losing three of your first five games (including one to Northern Iowa) and lost to Drake by 35 points. Since then, however, you have done much better, even piling up two wins against Top 100 teams (Purdue and Missouri). Which team is the real Iowa State, the one that started off the year so poorly or the one that has been on a hot streak of sorts lately?

The one that started off the year so poorly had two of its best players injured. Wes Johnson and Jiri Hubalek, both key cogs in the Cyclone machine, had rather messed up feet. Both have just recently gotten back to full strength. I think its safe to say that we'd beat UNI and Bradley right now. They've really learned to play as a team, and realize what they are capable of. The mistakes have gone down dramatically and its pretty damn refreshing to see. The Missouri and Oklahoma State games are two of the more enjoyable ISU games I've seen in a while.

2) Just like nearly every other team in the Big 12, you are breaking in a new coach, Greg McDermott. What are your thoughts on him; do you think he is the one to get you back to the Cyclones' heyday of the late 90's and early 00's?

I've been a harsh critic of Greg McDermott since before the hiring. I know he's a good and knowledgeable coach, but I'm quite worried if he can recruit to the level that he needs to. He identified multiple talents early, such as Tyler Zeller and Jon Leuer, but never sealed the deal. The future at the post position looks iffy at best. He's also never had fewer than 10 losses a season at the Division I level.

That being said, I've been pleased with the coaching this year, and it seems like he's becoming more similar to the Tim Floyd style ball we saw a decade ago. After our horrendous start - for the first time there were numerous Cyclone fans becoming impatient. That has died down, even from me. The big guy is growing on me.

3) Speaking of Iowa State's heyday, at one point you beat the Jayhawks five consecutive times, and Jamaal Tinsley went undefeated against us in his four games. So, with that said, what is your favorite all-time Cyclone-Jayhawk moment?

I believe it was 2000, when a Marcus Fizer 3-point bucket at Hilton Coliseum essentially sealed an Iowa State win. I LOVE the rivalry (at least its a rivalry from our side) and I look forward to these games every year.  

4) What is the Cyclones' biggest strength? What is their biggest weakness?

Their biggest strengths have to be free throw shooting, senior leadership and improving decision making. Most players on the team are better than average from the stripe and have been getting there a lot as of late. As far as senior leadership, Rahshon Clark and Jiri Hubalek have realized that this team will depend on them, and they've adjusted to that role with their solid play. Turnovers have dramatically decreased as junior Bryan Petersen and freshman Diante Garrett have both adjusted to a much higher level of play than they've ever had before.

Their weakness is their offense. ISU is not a solid shooting team, especially from behind the arc. The bench is also remarkable thin, so even though McDermott will sub a fair amount, any contribution of the bench would be at least a minor surprise.

5) Score Prediction: Who will win and by how much?

I tend to think the spread is a tad high, as I last saw it at 24.5. I see Kansas winning 77-62, but with Iowa State being competitive. It's not unthinkable to think that Iowa State could win - if nothing else, Iowa State has traditionally been one team never intimidated by the Jayhawks. McDermott wants a marquee win. He doesn't have one yet. Tomorrow would be a good night.


There you have it.

A little more on the game a little later on, most likely in the Open Game Thread.