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"That was closer than it shoulda been..." -- Kansas 72 Iowa State 55

The fine folks over at Clone Chronicles, the SB Nation Iowa State blog, opened their OGT with the following little statement:

Iowa State goes into Lawrence, Kansas tonight with absolutely no shot to win. Bet your children on it.

When I read it, I didn't bat an eyelash. It just made sense. After all, Iowa State is a bad team, and we're really good. We were playing in Allen Field House, where we haven't lost in 38 games. It wasn't supposed to be close.

And yet, it was. On a day where Bill Self required the team to run post-shootaround, cause we weren't putting forth the effort. For the most part, the lack of effort transferred over to the game.

We started out hot, trying hard and just flexing our muscles. It was 30-13, at one point, and the blowout appeared to be on. But then, we just got lazy. Lazy, lazy, lazy. We turned the ball over time-and-time again, gave up open looks from beyond the arc, just generally looked disinterested. Not completely; I mean, it wasn't like we were going half-ass, or anything. But, we didn't have that same intensity we've showed recently. And, really, it is completely understandable. Think of this team's last four games: @ Baylor (a game that was highly stressful at the time, and a large one for our team), vs. Oklahoma State (the relative stress-free game of the bunch), and then the two biggies, @ Missouri and @ K-State. All stressful, particularly the last two. We were coming off of two of the biggest games of the year, in incredibly hostile environments in two quite intense games. We had to show up, bigtime, in order to win just one of the pair, and were clearly suffereing from a bit of a hangover.

Still, though, our team's progressed. In a hungover state, blinded by those damn bright lights, we were still able to beat the Clones. That's the key, really: just pick up the W's baby. That's the key. We won last night because, for little flashes, we decided to show up. And in those five-minute surges, we were good. Damn good, at times. We just didn't how up consistently.

But man, those surges. That's what we can build off of.

Further analysis after the jump

  • MVP? I'll go Cole Aldrich. But, I'm not blown away, or anything. I'm almost officially certain that I'm far too hard on Aldrich and Collins, and expect far too much. It isn't that I get frustrated at them more than most during the game, but in the box score, no matter how dominating, it almost always feels that "it's just the way it should be". I know, I know; it's probably a flaw, but I just can't help it. Take it as a compliment, Cole and Sherron. CoSh? Anyways, moving on to Cole's game: dude still can rebound with the best of 'em. Offensively, he was quite awesome too, except for the 5 turnovers. Really, that's what ruins the entire line for me. For how talented he is, and we'll talk about this later, too, with the Law Firm, but he made some godawful passes. Just absolutely terrible stuff. But, let's try and cous on the positive. When he is hitting that fifteen-footer consistently (which he is more often than not, really) his offensive arsenal is NBA-ready, methinks. Obviously, he's still raw and could still use plenty of honing and developing, but I'm statring to get a nasty feeling that he's going to leave. The Draft class is so weak, and he has so much potential, he'll likely go Top 10. And that, no matter how much you love college, has to be hard as hell to turn down.
  • Oh, the other half of CoSh (?) had quite a game himself. Sherron Collins' shot still isn't 100% (which really means his elbow isn't 100%; ever since that brace came on, his stroke has been just a little off), but he is making up for it. He finally had a damn good shooting night (4-6 from three), and while it still looks a hair off, the performance says otherwise. We'll see how he does on Saturday, to see if it was a one-night thing or him fully healing. Most importantly, though, he dished out 6 assists and didn't turn the ball over once. It is less-impressive considering the Clones' complete inability to turn anyone over, but still: a zero-turnover game is a zero-turnover game.
  • Besides the Big Two (again, CoSh?), who combined to score 44 points, the rest of the team combined to score all of 28. Total. That makes picking the next player to go over, if we're going in value-order, quite difficult, but we'll go with Mario Little. He was pretty awful scoring-wise, going 0-5 total including blowing a pair of wide-open layups, but he was a beast on the boards. He pulled down 6 of them, including 4 on the offensive end, which was awesome to see. It doesn't mean nearly as much without the subsequent bunnies being converted, but that's the easy part to teach. I just can't wait until he's 100% healthy, next season. Damn, is he going to be awesome. 
  • Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris are almost two entirely different players, now. This will, likely, be the last time I ever pair them together, again. Both, along with Little and Cole, struggled mightily with the simple 10-foot pass from big-to-big, never reading the Cyclone defender jumping in the passing lane. And both, more-or-less, are equal in the rebounding game. But, there is a reason that McMorris got 29 minutes, and Kieffer only got 16. Actually, two. First of all, and more importantly, MC is the better defensive player. He is better fundamentally, putting his hands high in the air (like he don't care), sliding his feet and getting into position. He still isn't perfect, and has plenty of offseason work to do with Danny Manning, but he's much better than he was. Kieffer is getting better, too, but he's much more likely to let his arms slip a hair and pick up the cheap foul. Both picked up 3; McMorris played 13 more minutes, though. However, McMorris' offensive repertoire is incredibly more extensive, as well. Marcus' outside shot is better, and he can actually drive the ball in. Plus, he has a pair of post moves (the mini-drive to his right and then throws it up off the glass, and the dribble to the middle of the lane pump-fake and step through for the finger-roll) compared to Kieffer's one (the lefty jump-hook). Kieffer is a fine player, as well, and is great as a rotational, rebounder-plus-five-fouls-to-give, and has oodles of potential. But, right now and probably throughout their future in Lawrence, Marcus is the better player.
  • Early on in the season, Tyshawn Taylor was praised, and rightly so, for doing the "little things" particularly well, especially for a freshman. He was playing awesome D, he was holding on to the ball, he was, more-or-less, playing well beyond his years. But, now, it's almost as if he's regressing. I'd say he's the poster-child for hitting the "freshman wall", as he's trailed off quite substantially recently. He is still lightning-quick, and his D is pretty good (not awesome, but pretty good), but he turns the ball over far too often for my liking, and his shot isn't all that consistent. He's still a good rotation player to have, and I bet he's going to be a star in the near future here at Kansas, but I'd like to see Travis Releford pick up some of his minutes. Releford looked good, again, Wednesday night. Another good performance from Travis on Saturday afternoon, and I'm officially joining his fanclub and beginning the march to get him more PT.
  • Bleh games from Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed. Both hit some nice shots, including another clutch three from Relly Ice, and both played solid D (obviously, BradyStar's better on defense, but you get the idea). Nothing special, either bad or good, to write home about.

That's all, for now. Plenty of content on the slate for tomorrow, so watch out for all of that stuff.