Today we have the opportunity to get a few questions answered by Paul Conrad, one of the writers over at the Clone Chronicles. It's funny, Iowa State is probably a team that talent wise is in a similar place as Kansas.
What Paul touches on and I've hinted at as well is that Paul Rhoads has a team that shows up, fights tooth and nail and doesn't quit. It's what I would have wanted from Kansas at the very least this year because at least when all else fails you can respect what you see on the field and heck you might even get a win that no one is expecting.
From my standpoint, I've expected this to be a tough game from the get go. I mentioned at the beginning of the season that I believed Paul Rhoads to be a solid coach and I think he's done a nice job this year considering the EXTREMELY difficult schedule. Beyond my own gut feel, Paul helps put some substance to what the Cyclones bring to the table.
Plus, a few bonus basketball questions as the Cyclones enter a full blown rebuild under the guidance of the Mayor, Jeff Hoiberg.
1. Talk about Iowa State. We've seen the hard losses, we know about the brutal schedule but I've been saying this is a decent team since the beginning that might just have a tough year because of the way things fall, how would you describe the Cyclones?
I guess if I had to choose a word to describe the Cyclones, it would be "resilient". It's really the only way that you can describe going from two blowout games to top 10 teams to winning in Austin, something that isn't easy for any team and is something ISU has never done before.
The team is by no means perfect, but they're not willing to just roll over and die. They make teams fight for it, even if it doesn't end up mattering in the end. Paul Rhoads has said numerous times that he goes into every game expecting that they can win, and there's really something to that. If you're defeated in your own mind before you go out onto the field, it's already over. If you go out there and give it everything, sometimes a miracle can happen.
2. Last year the Cyclones went to Lincoln and won. This year Austin. What is Paul Rhodes secret? He seems to have a way of igniting fire in his players...Kansas needs to steal some of it.
I just talked about attitude and expectations that the team can win, but it's more than that. Paul Rhoads is able to lead his team in a way that people talk about a lot, but few ever see. They call a leader with no followers just a guy taking a walk. Paul Rhoads doesn't watch behind him to see who's following, he just leads and people WANT to follow him. I wish I knew what he had that let's him do that, because it's something I've never gotten the hang of. Few people have. I read about what he said to his players after losing to Oklahoma, there was no ire, no blaming, just positive reinforcement of how they were going to do better. That and the fact it's obvious he'd go to the mat for his players makes him an inspired leader.
3. What area do you think Kansas might be able to exploit against the Cyclones and can Kansas win?
If Kansas can stop the ISU running game, the offense is in trouble. Arnaud has tried to win games with just his arm and it just doesn't work. Iowa State's offensive potency depends on a balanced running/passing attack. If you can undermine the running foundation, the house crumbles. Even in the win against Texas Tech where we scored 52 points, the running game was just as important as the passing game.
On defense, the line has struggled through most of the games this year, if the KU O-line can play well, they can probably control the line of scrimmage.
4. Fred Hoiberg, the Mayor, what do you think?
He was a bit before my time at ISU, and ISU basketball really isn't my thing. He seems to be saying and doing the right things as the head coach, and the fan base is 100% behind him. I'm more watching from the sidelines, waiting to see how well he turns words into actions. I think you have to give him at least until the end of next season to judge him though.
5. Give me your favorite all time Cyclones. Football and basketball. I lived in Ames for a stint and have a few of my own.
All time favorite Cyclones for me are probably Lane Danielson and Seneca Wallace. I got to watch them play when I first went to ISU in 2001 and it was unreal. The things Seneca could do while scrambling out of the pocket still can take my breath away. As I said, ISU Basketball really isn't my thing.