Jan 30, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Michael Jacobson (12) grabs a rebound against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones beat the Mountaineers 93-68. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Morgantown, W.Va.
KenPom Prediction: 79-71, Iowa State
1 – Shifting Lineups
You know, I almost wonder if this should have happened a long time ago. With Nick Weiler-Babb expected to be a game-time decision on Wednesday, do not be surprised to see Lindell Wigginton return to the starting lineup for the first time since the season opener.
I have been against that move ever since Wigginton returned from his foot injury earlier in the year, but maybe a spot in the starting five would have cured some of the inconsistency he has faced during the season.
“It doesn’t change anything,” Wigginton, who is averaging 13.0 points and shooting 38.9 percent from three, said on Monday. “I still have to come out with the same mindset… I don’t think it really matters at this point in the season. I feel good starting but I don’t think it will change anything.”
This move could also make absolutely zero impact on anything and the team will play the same way they have the past few weeks. But, it could make an impact, too.
I don’t know. I think I’ve reached the point where I’m overanalyzing everything with this team just searching for any sort of answers after the roller coaster month of February.
2 – Sparking Marial
This thought came to me during Iowa State’s loss to Texas on Saturday. There have been too many times when leading-scorer Marial Shayok has essentially disappeared in the first half of games, so why don’t the Cyclones run more designed actions to create open looks for him?
So many times we’ve seen this team grow incredibly stagnant on the offensive end. Some of that can be attributed to Shayok’s aggressiveness falling back at times, in my opinion.
“I think the first play we ran for him to start the (Texas) game. We usually do that. Some kind of action to get him a look,” Steve Prohm said. “If we’re going to run something for Marial, it’s probably three or four things so our guys know it and are good at it. I think that’s the best for our guys. But, when we’re stagnant and the ball’s not moving or we’re trying to score on the first pass, we’re not as good. Obviously, in the second half, we did a couple things. Baseline out of bounds, we’ve added some things. In the halfcourt, we’ve put him with the ball up top some. Done a couple of things that he’s been good with.”
I get that they may have run an action for him on the first possession, but he also took only three shots in the next 19 minutes or whatever it was after that. He followed that by taking 10 shots in the second half.
The Cyclones also went on a six-plus minute stretch in the first half in which they didn’t score. That seems like a perfect time to run something to get a good look for your most consistent scorer rather than having the ball stuck in people’s hands at the top of the key while everyone else stands and watches.
“The thing we need to do a good job of, and this is what I’ve talked to my coaches about, is like, ‘Hey, if we haven’t scored three possessions in a row, we need to know that because we need to make sure we get a (good look).’ Whether we make it or miss, that we get a good look,” Prohm said. “Sometimes you’re going to get a good look and miss it. When we ran our offense the right way, like Wigginton got a great three, sometimes we just get out of character, man. We get frustrated. We start getting scored on and we can’t do that. We can’t let that dictate us.”
3 – Riding the Wave
Prohm’s last point in that quote is a great one. There have been too many times when it is clear this Iowa State team allows its struggles on offense to dictate how it performs on the defensive end.
They need to figure out a way to do a better job of riding the wave and battling their way through adverse situations rather than folding when the going gets tough. Their inability to do that is what led to comments like ESPN’s Chris Spatola had following the loss in Austin.
If they’re able to improve in this area, there’s still a lot of games out there to be won. If not, we could be facing the end of basketball season in Central Iowa much sooner than all of us had hoped.