Spared the dubious distinction of last place for the past few years, the Iowa State Cyclones now have to fight their way toward the top with significant personnel changes. Most Iowa State fans will approach the 2010-11 basketball season with low expectations.
Already adjusting to the losses of departed forwards Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap, Iowa State welcomes an old friend back to Ames. New coach Fred Hoiberg, who played for ISU in the early ’90s, has the tall task of transforming the program into a Big 12 contender.
I found a humorous and telling description of Iowa State’s recent basketball struggles on a blog for their rival Iowa called Black Heart Gold Pants. After the Cyclones announced a logo change in 2008, the school doctored photographs of Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum to show fans what the logo might look like during game action.
Since the basketball photo was taken during a game against Kansas, the school went ahead and altered the scoreboard in the picture to read: Iowa State 48, Kansas 44.
“Think about that again: In its wildest dreams, Iowa State imagines being ahead of Kansas by 4 with just under 11 minutes to play…”
Indeed, after excellent seasons in 2000 and 2001, the Cyclones have had only one winning record (2005) in Big 12 play. (For the record, they have lost to KU ten straight times.)Hoiberg has a difficult assignment. His coaching experience is one year on the Minnesota Timberwolves staff following his NBA playing career. He worked in their front office until now. Of course, Hoiberg means a lot to the Iowa State program, as he grew up in Iowa and was an extremely popular player. That will draw him some early support from a generally loyal, patient Iowa State fan base that takes basketball seriously.
Still, as strong as the northern teams of the Big 12 are, Iowa State will likely have one of the more difficult league schedules in the country. Road trips include Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. Not fun. If Hoiberg can guide Iowa State to competitive games in the Big 12 and keep the Cyclones out of last place, that would be a notable accomplishment.
IMPACT RETURNING PLAYERS:
6’3″ junior guard Scott Christopherson
6’4” senior guard Diante Garrett