Had taken about a month off from the Three Count to recharge the batteries and everything. Figured if every sport gets an off-season then why not me too every once and a while. But holy cow after that Saturday of Big Ten football I had to get back on the keyboard. You’re welcome internet.
What a crazy day in the Big Ten. Michigan State somehow now controls it's own destiny to win the East instead of Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State. Iowa eviscerated Ohio State. Northwestern won it's third overtime game in three weeks. And Rutgers climbed to .500 in conference play. Crazy stuff. Thank goodness for Wisconsin so we can at least have some type of stability in the conference. 9-0 for Bucky heading into the final quarter stretch of regular season play.
The headline of the week in the Big Ten though was Iowa's blitzing of Ohio State. If you would have asked me heading into Saturday how many quarters it would take for Iowa to point up 55 points against Ohio State, I would have started the number at 10 quarters and probably went up from there. Iowa 55, Ohio State 24. That was an absolutely unconceivable final score. There were signs there that Ohio State may have been more smoke and mirrors than substance this year but 55-24 Saturday was an out-and-out shocker. I didn’t see that coming. I told people at work on Friday that if I was betting, I’d take the Hawkeyes and the points just since they were getting soooooooo many points at home, but in no way did I see them winning. And definitely not winning in a blowout. They housed the Buckeyes by 31 points after being a 20+ point underdog heading into that contest. I read somewhere that Iowa ended up covering that spread by over 50 points. Incredible.
And a heartfelt congratulations to Iowa fans. They were two weeks from packing up their season and getting into basketball mode. The pendulum was starting to swing back to the “Fire Kirk” side, Brian Ferentz was getting chastised in the media for his temper and poor job performance, and a bid to the Quick Lane Bowl was looking imminent. Last week, the general consensus I was seeing was that the Hawkeyes were the second best team in the state of Iowa. Now? Is it not too crazy to say they are not 2 inches on a potential tipped 4th down pass against Penn State away from being the 2nd best team in the Big Ten? Sports are crazy man.
Kind of a cop out on my part for this second point here but I need to point out that LeBron James put up a stat line of 57 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists on Friday night. Not a lot to add to that but it just needed to be stated again so we don’t take those types of things for granted.
Nevermind, let me add at least a little bit to that.
LeBron James just put up a 57, 11, and 7 in his 15th season in the NBA. In a regular season games. That’s insane. I know scoring is higher in today’s NBA, our diet and health science is on another level in 2017, and all that other analytical garbage. But 57-11-7 in his 15th NBA season. Unreal.
Jordan was limping on a .500 Wizards team in his 15th season. LeBron is making a poorly put together Cavs team an NBA Finals favorite in his 15th season.
Went to the Cyclones' home exhibition opener last night against Emporia State. Was excited to see the new look Cyclones after the last remaining pieces from the Hoiberg Era graduated. And it went almost exactly how you'd predict it would go with a young, inexperienced team playing in their first public appearance.
Iowa State isn't a national powerhouse where they can just instantly replace All-Americans and All-Conference players with new players and not miss much of a step. This process is going to take time. Losing Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas, and Deonte Burton all in the same season is going to take it's toll.
Last night the Cyclones looked like a group that hadn't played together much and weren't sure how all their pieces meshed together yet. Also, Iowa State was not suiting in three players (Lard, Lewis, Brase) who I'd expect to get significant minutes this season due to either injury or Coach's Decision. That left the Cyclones with only 7 players suiting up last night. They slogged their way to a 77-68 win over Emporia State.
I'm excited to see how this teams builds throughout the season and what identity they form. I still don't know what type of an identity a Steve Prohm coached team has in the Big 12. The space-and-pace, shooting type players from the Hoiberg regime are all gone and Prohm now has his type of players in his type of system. Excited to see what that looks like. Talent-wise you'd think the Cyclones take a step back the next season or two until these Freshmen and incoming recruits solidify themselves. It does sound like the incoming recruiting classes from Prohm have been successful and re-enforcements are on the way. The challenge will be to speed up that process as soon as possible.
As for this year's season, I still think they can reach the NCAA Tournament this year, I don't think that's off the table. It may be unlikely and we will learn more when Lard, Lewis, and Brase see the court. We may learn that quickly as the Cyclones travel to Missouri on Friday to open up the season against what should be a talented Tigers team.
Last night that version of the Cyclones reminded me a little bit of a less talented Baylor Bears team. A lot of athletes on the floor that are long and lanky but hadn't tied the basketball skills part of the equation together yet. Not a lot of shooting on the floor and not a lot of brute size. Again, you add three more players (Lard, Lewis, Brase) to a basketball team and it completely changes the dynamic of the team so this will be completely different after Friday night I'm sure. Excited to see where this season leads.