Five questions on Saturday's game against Iowa State with Cyclones blogger Alex from Clone Chronicles, the best of its kind.
Looking at Iowa State's numbers, the Cyclones look to be a solid defensive club, but one that struggles tremendously on offense. Is that about right?
Clone Chronicles - Yup, although the defense has been a tad suspect lately. McDermott's also run his team based on complicated offensive sets. It looked like it was catching at times over the last two years, but we've looked positively lost the last few games. Our best win this year, in Las Vegas over a Purdue team that apparently doesn't suck, was a bit more uptempo than we're used to playing. I don't think we shoot well enough to limit ourselves on possessions like we do. Part of it is no shooting talent in the backcourt aside from Wes Johnson (who is hurt), a guy in Rahshon Clark who can shoot (but doesn't), a great talent in Craig Brackins who lit up Baylor with 8 3's (but has had real trouble with a 5 foot jumper as of late) and Jiri Hubalek (who I think prides himself on frustrating ISU fans).
Most of the issues stem from the weak point guard position, but it's kind of been a team effort at sucking as of late.
Rashan Clark is having a solid senior season, but he's surrounded by a lot of freshmen. How are the young ones doing so far in Big 12 play?
Clone Chronicles - We only really play two freshmen, Diante Garrett and Craig Brackins. Diante is a really lanky PG at 6' 4". He's got good handles, but it's clear that he needs some adjustment time. He's got talent, and he's had good spurts and bad spurts. He's a good kid though, so he's easy to cheer for. Can't hit a shot, though.
Brackins was ISU's first 5-star recruit since Marcus Fizer. He's got a great touch around the hoop, but he's been kind of stifled in Big 12 play. He dropped 33 at Baylor, but that was on 8 3's. He's one of our best outside shooters, but he's got a ways to as far as being able to bang down low. His rebounding has also been erratic. His defense has been poor at best as of late, as A&M just ate him up down low. He also doesn't give his best effort all of the time. Hopefully he can get that straightened out. He doesn't deserve to start over Alex Thompson after his last performance, but he will.
Iowa State's won just one road game this season, but they've fared relatively better at home, including a solid win over Missouri. How big a factor will the home court be for this young team Saturday?
Clone Chronicles - Well, for once, the weather will be nice. I'd say we had 6,500 or so for TAMU, a night that we probably got a half foot of snow. Most of our home games have been plagued with either snowy conditions or subzero temps, but an afternoon start time combined with a good opponent should equal a good crowd. I'd expect at least 10,000 to actually show, but, you guys aren't Kansas, so I don't expect a full house.
We don't really run an offense that thrives on the crowd, but, as I'm sure you know, Hilton, at its best, is one of the top 10 home arenas in all of basketball. That's sort of died since Wayne Morgan's last year and Greg McDermott's tenure, but it is still a grand place.
I've been to both Bramlage Coliseum and the Devaney Center this year, and Carver Hawkeye in the past. Those three places may not be the best comparisons, but I have a new appreciation for Hilton now. It's truly like a professional setting with huge flat screen scoreboards, LCD boards, and theatre-style seating. Now if only the basketball was at a high level.
Greg McDermott is in his second year at the helm now at Iowa State. What's the early verdict?
Clone Chronicles - I was never a big fan of the hire. Last year, everyone wanted to give him time, so he essentially got a mulligan, but some people are beginning to get a little impatient in year two. Player turnover is still an issue as we've had two guys quit midseason. He's a relatively nice guy that is a good representative for the university, but I have my doubts that he's the guy that will get us where we want to go. In 2000 we learned that anything can be done at ISU with the men's basketball program, as we were minutes away from a Final Four berth (and a likely national championship had we finished off Sparty). For now, the goal has to be top 4 Big 12 finishes and Big 12 Championships. It just has to be. And I'm not sure if McDermott's the guy to get us there.
The absolute first thing he has to do is guard the homecourt. That's worked out well enough this year, but we've got chances for 3 big victories over ranked teams left this year. Saturday would be a good time to start. The other issue is MVC schools. Greg's 0-6 against Valley schools. That will not fly at Iowa State.
Tell us in one sentence the key to beating Iowa State.
Clone Chronicles - Shoot decently.