Ronayne Lives Dream at Boston Marathon

Ronayne attacks the Boston Marathon.

Ronayne attacks the Boston Marathon.

What can you accomplish in four days? The answer is quite a bit, with the advances in technology and travel we can do so much more in so much little time than we used to. However, the challenges of balancing professional and personal life means that the bigger goals are tougher to accomplish at the same time. For Iowa State gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne, he accomplished a professional and personal goal all in the space of four days.

Last Friday saw Iowa State gymnast Caitlin Brown compete in her second NCAA Gymnastics Championship. She finished off her Iowa State career strongly, just missing out on the event final on balance beam with a 9.875 and earning second-team All-America honors and recording a 39.175 in the all-around.

Ronayne congratulates Caitlin Brown after her floor exercise routine at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships

Ronayne congratulates Caitlin Brown after her floor exercise routine at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships

For many gymnastics coaches, the end of a team or student-athlete’s season would mean time for some rest from the four-month grind of the season, or get back into recruiting for the future. For Ronayne, he went from Fort Worth to Boston to run in the Boston Marathon.

Ronayne has run multiple marathons in his life, with his running in the 2013 Des Moines Marathon earning him qualification to the Boston Marathon. However, his Des Moines qualifying time came too late to register for 2014, meaning he was off for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

In the time between his qualifying he and wife Mary Ronayne had a major life change that meant a different approach to preparing for the marathon, the birth of his son Jack in January 2014. Balancing time with his son and his gymnastics program meant less time to train for Boston.

“The program I do are four months prior to the race, and that goes right through gymnastics season,” Ronayne said. “I did not train as hard for this one, as I would for others because of gymnastics and my son. I didn’t want to take away from either. I only ran roughly 40 miles a week. At one point, I had run 79 miles per week when training for Des Moines.”

Though Ronayne is a native of the Boston area, he was not born a marathoner. However, like many Bostonians, the watching of the marathon was a yearly tradition for the Ronayne family.

“It is a dream that evolved over life,” Ronayne noted. “When I was a kid, I thought those people were crazy and I would never do it. I was still fascinated by it, my dad was a track guy and we were both interested in it. It is a big deal in Mass. It was not until I was in my 30s that I ran a marathon.”

A dry Jay Ronayne prior to taking on the Boston Marathon.

A dry Jay Ronayne prior to taking on the Boston Marathon.

One of the challenges of the Boston Marathon is the unpredictable weather due to its Northeast geography. There have been many years where Boston has featured temperatures in the 80s, there are many years when there have been near freezing temperatures. Ronayne ID’d his ideal marathon conditions as 50 degrees, no humidity, no winds and overcast. That was not the hand he was dealt last Monday.

“It was raining nearly the entire time,” Ronayne stated. “We had two passages of storms before the race even started. It was not raining at the start of the race, and for the first five miles or so, but then the rains came down almost the rest of the time until the end.

“We ran into a headwind the entire time,” Ronayne continued. “And I had picked up a cold the week of the race. Yet, with all of that, I would not change anything.”

Ronayne nearing the finish of the Boston Marathon

Ronayne nearing the finish of the Boston Marathon

The finish to the Boston Marathon is one of the best in road racing. After nearly 26 miles, the runners make one last turn from Hereford Street onto the boisterous Boylston Street. For the last three blocks, the street is lined by fans cheering on every runner, from the elite level runners to the last finisher. For a first-timer like Ronayne, making that turn lived up to the hype.

“You round the corner, and you see the finish line all the way down the street,” Ronayne noted. “I had decided about three miles earlier that once I made it there, I was going to run as hard as I can. When I saw the finish line, I found another gear. A weight is lifted off your shoulders seeing that finish line. It was really exciting and fulfilling.”

So what is next for Iowa State’s marathoning-gymnastics coach? Probably not any more marathons, but that is not a bad thing, he has a lot on his plate as is.

“This is probably my final marathon, but I reserve the right to come out of retirement,” Ronayne concluded. “I have never actually run any other distance than marathons, I have never done a 5 or a 10K, so there is always that. Maybe once Jack grows up, I will make another appearance in a marathon.”

Ronayne and the first child of Iowa State gymnastics, his son Jack Ronayne

Ronayne and the first child of Iowa State gymnastics, his son Jack Ronayne

Regardless of what Ronayne does, he can say that he has accomplished a great feat, particularly for a Massachusetts native like himself. There are many other tasks ahead for Ronayne, both involving Iowa State gymnastics team and not. For one day, he got to go home and live one of his dreams.

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Catching Up With J.J. Moses

The Moses Family15FUTP60

The Moses family (l to r): Milan, J.J. and Jerry

On Iowa State’s first play from scrimmage at Iowa in 2000, J.J. Moses took a reverse and all he saw was daylight.

The speedy wideout from Waterloo then made an opportune cut at the 11-yard line, freezing a Hawkeye defender and darting into the end zone on a 58-yard spurt.

Moses’ run was the catalyst in ISU’s third-straight series victory over Iowa and one of many highlights from the Cyclones’ incredible 2000 football season.

He had a dream the night before he was going to score on the first play. He did, and 15 years later, he still can remember everything about it.

“Coach (Steve) Loney (ISU’s offensive coordinator) told me the day before, ‘Hey, we’re going to start the game with a reverse,’” Moses said. “We were hoping for some big yardage to start the game and set the momentum. The night before the game I had an actual experience that I saw myself scoring that touchdown, and I still remember the feeling. Sage (Rosenfels) goes back, he hands the ball back to me. I go around the corner and around the end and all I remember saying was, ‘Lord, please allow me to score this touchdown.’  I saw two big guys coming in about to tackle me close to the end zone, but I was able to kind of sneak through it. It was a gutsy call. If they stuffed us, I believe that would’ve caused the momentum to shift their way. But we were able to go ahead and score quick.”

Moses had a breakout senior campaign in 2000. He caught 53 passes for 775 yards. He also was an electric kickoff returner, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors at that position and second team accolades as a receiver.

His contributions helped the Cyclones win a school-record nine games and capture their first-ever bowl victory with a 37-29 triumph over Pittsburgh in the Bowl.

The memories he shared with his teammates in that record-breaking season is something Moses will always cherish.

“We had a great group of seniors coming back on that team, guys like Sage Rosenfels, Reggie Hayward, and James Reed, just to name a few,” Moses said. “We decided we can be the team that will turn Iowa State football around. What we decided to do was to come together as a team. We would work out together as a team, but then after the workouts, we would meet around and participate in drills by ourselves because we were so focused and driven. That senior year rolls around and we go 9-3. We surprised so many individuals and we ended up winning the Bowl game in Arizona. It was a just a great thing that the seniors decided to come together. We kind of helped change the course of Iowa State.”

J.J. Moses earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors as a kick returner in 2000.

J.J. Moses earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors as a kick returner in 2000.

Another breakthrough moment of that memorable year occurred on a snow-covered field in Boulder, Colorado in mid-November. Iowa State entered the game on a 16-game losing streak to Colorado.

Breaking the streak was on ISU’s mind, but the Cyclones fell behind 20-9 before making a comeback. Moses did his part, turning a short pass from Sage Rosenfels into a 44-yard touchdown to give ISU a 26-20 advantage.

ISU hung on for victory, 35-27, as Reggie Hayward recovered a fumble on its own 10-yard line, halting a potential CU rally in the final minute.

“Wow, I remember snow,” Moses laughed. “I remember Carl Gomez kicking a big-time field goal that just barely goes over the crossbar. I remember Reggie Hayward going in and making some big sacks and recovering the fumble to end the game. I remember Doug Densmore going up and picking up a fumble and returning it maybe 30 or 40 yards. Overall, that game showed that a lot of players could go in and make big plays for us. It was snowing, and we went in and competed and we made some big plays. Sage made some great throws. I was lucky to catch some footballs. I just thought overall it was a great team effort for us.”

Moses played four seasons in the NFL after his Cyclone career ended. From 2003-04, he handled the majority of the Houston Texans’ punt and kickoff returns, tabulating long returns of 40 yards (punt) and 70 yards (kickoff), both during the 2003 season.

Moses’ NFL career began in a workout on the campus of Iowa State.

“Sage (Rosenfels) was going to have a tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs and he asked me if I wanted to catch some balls for his workout,” Moses remembered. “All the Chiefs were coming, head coach Dick Vermeil and the whole front office were there to watch him work out. The workout finished and Vermeil walks up to me, reaches out and shakes my hand and says, ‘Son, today you have just made it into the NFL.’ At that moment I was able to land a spot in the NFL, and since 2000 I have benefited from that workout because I’m still involved in the NFL for the last 15 years as a player and now as an ambassador. Opportunities can come your way when you least expect it.”

Moses was a popular figure in Houston and has remained in the Houston area where he as a found success as a motivational speaker.

Moses made a return trip to his alma mater today to help promote the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign in conjunction with the Midwest Dairy Council. It’s a joint effort to help promote nutritional and health awareness to children and adults.

Motivating and educating people is something Moses is very comfortable with. He was happy to be able to spread his positive message in his return to Iowa State.

“I’m glad to be back at my alma mater,” Moses said. “I’m a spokesman for the NFL Fuel up to Play 60 event in which we encourage kids to go out and exercise at least 60 minutes out of the day and eat healthy. I’m just honored to be a part of such a great program which promotes a positive message to kids to eat healthy and to stay focused. Who knows, there might be the next J.J. Moses out there playing football!”

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Cyclones Make Most of St. Louis Road Trip

The Iowa State women’s soccer team entered the weekend with a daunting task ahead of them — play two National Women’s Soccer League teams in separate 45 minute games, including the current league champion, FC Kansas City.

The Cyclones exited the weekend with loads of confidence after proving that they can compete with the best teams in the country. Iowa State fell to FC Kansas City 1-0 after a back and forth affair and then 3-0 to the Chicago Red Stars in a game that saw the Cyclones come within a few feet of two goals.

Head coach Tony Minatta wasn’t the only one to take notice of what the Cyclones are capable of.

“We played against the best players in the country in both of those games,” Minatta said. “To have the opposing coach from the Chicago Red Stars say that we were really tough to break down should show our players exactly what they are capable of doing when they put their minds to it. When we play hard and play the way that we are capable of, we can compete with anybody.”

Iowa State’s first game against FC Kansas City was tight for the entire 45-minute half. The Cyclones held the Blues scoreless for 40 minutes before a FCKC midfielder was able to fire a shot just past the outstretched fingertips of goalkeeper Lindsey Hendon. While other teams were allowing goal after goal, the Cyclones held strong. Iowa State was the only collegiate team this spring to not surrender multiple goals to the defending NWSL champion FCKC Blues.

Sophomore All-Big 12 forward Koree Willer took notice on how well the defense played.

“I was really proud of our defense honestly,” Willer said. “They rarely broke us down in the run of play. I was really happy with how organized they were.”

Fellow sophomore, and key leader of the Cyclone defense as a returning two-year starter, Madi Ott concurred. The Cyclones came to play.

“I think it was a whole team effort,” Ott said. “It started from the forwards went through the midfield and came to defense. I think top to bottom we were solid defensively and that’s something we can be proud of.”

After a short break, the Cyclones took on their second NWSL team of the day, the Chicago Red Stars. While the Cyclones fell 3-0, the final score doesn’t tell the entire story. Twice Iowa State was able to break the Red Stars down and get great looks at goal from Willer and freshman forward Maribell Morales. On the defensive side, freshman goalkeeper Lindsey Hendon showed off on a few plays, making leaping stops on would-be goals.

With the Cyclones holding their own against two professional squads, the team realizes how important it is to grab the opportunity and run with it heading into the remaining spring games and regular season.

“Now that we know we can play at that level, it’s a good feeling to have, but it really only matters if we carry that forward and continue building off that confidence and playing at that same level at every single game,” Ott said.

After the games the Cyclones had the opportunity to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team rout New Zealand 4-0 in front of 35,817 fans, the largest crowd for a women’s soccer game in the U.S. since 1999, in Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. The team got to watch some of the best players in the world up close and personal with seats just behind the goal. The first goal scored by Meghan Klingenberg was buried into the back of the net just a couple rows in front of where the team was seated.

“I thought it was unreal,” Ott said. “it was just so cool to see the players that we follow on Instagram and Twitter that we’ve have looked up to our whole lives and to see them out on the field. Even for me just to see such a positive amazing atmosphere around women’s soccer, that’s a rare thing to experience. There were times I would get chills during the game.”

The Cyclones are back on the road this weekend scheduled to play Creighton at 11:45 a.m. CT and Nebraska-Omaha at 1:30 p.m. CT in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Hoop Bits (4-2-15)

Niang The Latest All-American
On Monday, The Associated Press released its 2014-15 men’s basketball All-America teams (1st-3rd team). Deservedly so, Iowa State junior Georges Niang earned a spot on the third-team and the Cyclones were represented in consecutive seasons (Melvin Ejim, 2014).

There are a number of All-America teams released these days, but it can be argued that the most recognized comes from the AP.

With different players earning All-America honors from the AP in the last two years, ISU is in elite company.

Iowa State. Syracuse. Kentucky. Gonzaga. Duke.

That is it. The list of schools with multiple honorees is short and Iowa State is on it.

In the last four seasons, ISU has had four different players earn a spot on one All-America team or another, a total that matches the 10 years prior to Fred Hoiberg’s arrival.

Sixth Among Returning Players In Scoring
Niang can score. Analysts and coaches have marveled over the big man’s unique skill set. He’ll enter his senior season sixth among active players nationally in scoring. A couple of players above him  are considering their professional options, so Niang could move up on that list.

Top Returning Scorers
D.J. Balentine (Evansville) – 1,766
Olivier Hanlan (Boston College) – 1,727
Shawn Long (Louisiana-Lafayette) – 1,700 points
John Brown (High Point) – 1,680
Jalan West (Northwestern State) – 1,567
Georges Niang (Iowa State) – 1,510

Hoiberg vs. Self
With its win in the Big 12 Championship finals, Iowa State beat Kansas for the third time in four games.

That is no small feat as Hoiberg is just the fourth coach to beat a Bill Self-coached Kansas team in three of four meetings.

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo beat Kansas three times in a row (twice in 2009 and once in 2012), former Texas’ coach Rick Barnes beat the Jayhawks three of four times from 2004-06 and Kentucky’s John Calipari has won three in a row against Self (2011, 2012, 2014).

Number Change

Hallice Cooke will wear the No. 3 jersey in his first season as a Cyclone following the transfer of Clayton Custer. Cooke, who wore No. 3 at Oregon State and in high school at St. Anthony High School in New Jersey, quickly jumped at the opportunity to wear the number again.

The Hoiberg Era
The last five years have seen a lot of great moments. Here is an infographic we recently published to illustrate just a few of them.

Hoiberg Era Infographic

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Minatta Reflects On Soccer Workshop In Portugal

Iowa State head women’s soccer coach Tony Minatta recently visited Portugal while attending a U.S. Soccer International Coaches Soccer Workshop. Minatta visited several of the top teams in the country including FC Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica. From there he was able to learn from some of the world’s best coaches. I was able to sit down with Minatta and review his trip and find out how he plans on incorporating what he learned to his Iowa State team.

How does the U.S. Soccer International Coaches Workshop work and what drew you to Portugal?

Tony Minatta: Every year U.S. Soccer does an international workshop in different countries. They have been to Italy, Germany, England, Spain and this is the first year they went to Portugal. What drew me to the course was that it’s a very small country with limited recourses, yet they are consistently putting their national team in the top 10 in the world. Their club teams like FC Porto are in the Champions Elite Eight playing Bayern here in the next week or two. Being able to go to a country to see what they do and how they’ve managed to have that kind of success given that it’s a country of only 10 million people.

Were you able to meet with other collegiate soccer coaches across the country and what was that experience like?

TM: There were quite a few collegiate coaches there. North Carolina’s men’s coach was there and he has won a national championship. It was great to be around those individuals and share ideas and get different perspectives. When you’re on the bus to different places we were always talking soccer. It gives you a different perspective on different styles of coaching and why they are successful with what they are doing. Although the trip was international, I was able to interact with coaches who are at the highest level nationally.

Can you talk about your experience as a whole and some of the things that you learned that you’ll try to implement into your coaching style?

TM: The reality is that they are so much more advanced in other countries and there is a reason that their teams are consistently in the top in the world both on the club side and the national team side. One of the biggest things was that the clubs we visited had a culture of winning and that was everything from how they take the field to how they approach their scouting, recruiting, training and to the game models. All of the little things add up to the big picture. For us, it’s not about just running a really good training session. We have to be really good at everything that we’re doing. We need to refine and be better at everything we’re doing.

What was the gameday experience like at Estadio de Luz?

TM: It was amazing. The place was packed and everyone was looking to their left and this eagle came flying in and circled the stadium and landed on the wrist of a person at centerfield. When the game started, the songs and chanting that were going on made the entire atmosphere electric. It’s funny because we got to see a U19 Champions league game and the place was packed and they were singing the same songs. On our way back to Lisbon on the last day, we stopped at a restaurant on the way and a bunch of fans were there getting ready to go to another game and the whole table next to us was singing those same songs. I can’t see people doing that here.

What stuck out to you in terms of what Benfica does as a soccer club, or their practices and culture?

TM: Everything that they did in practice was designed to help the team have a better understanding of the spatial awareness on the field. That was something that I took away from it. They are very technical and very advanced. They do things that you don’t see over here in the United States. The youth players over there are amazing. Looking how they run they practices, it’s very similar to what we do already because I have a lot of influence from European styles. Just the spatial awareness that they look for and setting things up so everything will mimic the game and letting the players play. One thing that they always talked about is that they want to present the problem in their practice and they want the players to find the solution. They don’t want to dictate the solution, because they don’t feel that the players will ever learn it.

What does a typical training session look like at Sporting Lisbon and does it look any different from what you saw at Benfica?

TM: They are all very similar in how they set things up with their technical components. Interestingly enough we saw the same possession game in all three places. We got to see the first team train in Lisbon which was incredible. You recognize how much of an importance they put on the technical aspect of the game. Even with the first team, which was a Champions league team, the first three things that they did were all technical. Things like moving off the ball, and how it was set up. Sporting Lisbon has produced Cristiano Rinaldo and Figo, which are two world players of the year who both came out of the same club. Eight of the Sporting academy players are on the first team, which is pretty amazing because at Benfica of the starting 11, there wasn’t one that came out of their own academy. The only one who actually got some minutes came in like the last three minutes of the game. Lisbon puts a huge emphasis on player development and you can see that in how they approached the different training aspects.

What was your experience like at FC Porto and touring the city of Porto?

TM: It was amazing. When we met with the technical director in charge of FC Porto he said that he wanted us to go out into the town and talk to people and meet people so that we could really understand what the culture of the town was because that would help us understand the culture of the team. Porto was incredible. They got their Champions League draw while we were there. We had a lot more interaction with the coaches there. We got to have more sit downs with them personally as opposed to the other clubs where we got presentations and watched. Everybody spoke pretty good English. They had a lot of questions for us in how we do things. One of the guys that we sat down with coached a U14 team and he has his doctorate degree. The level of advancement they have for their coaches in incredible. Coaching soccer is an actual college degree in Portugal. What they put into it and how they approach it, it is definitely not just a profession, but rather a lifestyle.

How would you like to incorporate what you learned in Portugal to what you are doing here in Ames?

TM: A lot of the training will be similar. When we played Nebraska earlier and they opened the field up and we opened up defensively, we need to make sure that we’re closing that space and being more compact. Just watching some of their exercises and to be able to teach that and get their teams to understand that really has helped me out a lot. We need to make sure that we are showing our players the spatial awareness so they are able to do those things on the field and they have a better picture in their mind for it.

What are some things that Cyclone fans can get excited for that you have seen thus far this spring?

TM: Koree Willer is playing at a different level right now with some of the things she has been doing in practice. She’s really turned the corner and taken that next step to decide that she wants to be a next level player. Overall you can sense a different maturity about the team. We were so young last year. I think they finally realized that they can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. If they want to achieve more than what they achieved last year they have to put more work into it. You can see that at every practice they are more competitive. The level is rising every day. It’s exciting to see some of the players come out of their shells a little bit and really show quality play out on the field.

Check back to later this spring for a recap of Iowa State soccer’s spring season.

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Iowa State-UAB Gameday Primer

Coming off its second Big 12 Tournament title in as many years, Iowa State enters the NCAA Tournament with a three-seed when it faces 14-seed UAB Thursday at 11:40 a.m. (CDT). This is Iowa State’s 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Find truTV on your provider by clicking here.

For Mediacom, DirecTV and Dish Network subscribers, you can find the game on:

Mediacom: SD-43; SD-Digital-53.23; HD-869
DirecTV: 246
Dish Network: 242

An Iowa State win…
…improves ISU to 26-8, the third-most wins in school history.
…give ISU a win in the last four NCAA Tournaments.
…improve ISU to 5-3 in NCAA Tournament games under Fred Hoiberg.
…improve ISU to 17-16 in NCAA Tournament games.
…makes it 2-1 all-time against UAB and 15-3 against Conference USA teams.
…makes Hoiberg 116-55 as head coach.
…would be ISU’s 100th win in the last four seasons.

Tournament Tested
Iowa State has played 19 games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, going 14-5 in those games. No other team nationally has played a higher percentage of games against tournament qualifers as the Cyclones (57.5 percent).

Iowa State – 57.5 percent
Kansas – 56 percent
Kansas State – 56 percent
North Carolina – 54 percent
West Virginia – 53 percent
Oklahoma – 53 percent

Special thanks to West Virginia’s Bryan Messerly for researching this information.

Things to watch…
– With his first point, Georges Niang will become the 15th player in school history with 1,500 career points.
– Naz Long needs just two 3-pointers to move into a tie for fifth all-time at Iowa State with Tyrus McGee and Michael Nurse. Long enters the tournament with 144 career threes.
– Monté Morris has 306 assists, just two behind Julius Michalik for 11th all-time. Niang has 302 dimes in his career.
– Jameel McKay (53 blocks) needs just five blocks to match Jared Homan’s 2005 total of 58, which is fifth-most in a single season at Iowa State.
– Dustin Hogue (63 points) needs four points to move into a tie for seventh on the ISU NCAA Tournament scoring charts.

Elite Company
Georges Niang joins his coach Fred Hoiberg, Julius Michalik and Curtis Stinson as the only players in school history with 1,400 points, 450 rebounds and 300 assists.

Worth Noting
– Iowa State is averaging 50.2 points and shooting 55.6 percent behind the arc in the second half of the last five games.
– Hoiberg scored 32 points, including 17-straight Cyclone points in the second half as ISU beat No. 3 Kansas, which included UAB head coach Jerod Hasse, on Jan. 14, 1995.
– Iowa State is 14-2 in the last two seasons when Morris and Niang combine for 10 or more assists.
– Morris has zero turnovers in the last 136 minutes, a streak that spans four and a half games.
– The Cyclones averaged 6.3 turnovers per game in the Big 12 Tournament.

UAB In The National Rankings (As of 3/16)
UAB Rankings





Day One At The Tournament

Here are some pictures of our first day at the tournament.

Just For The Fun Of It


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Eric Heft’s Cyclone NCAA Tournament Memories


March Madness is here, and for a school-record fourth-straight season, Iowa State is fortunate to be a part of the grand spectacle.

Iowa State has a rich tradition in men’s hoops. For the 16th time since 1985, the Cyclones are dancing. ISU has played in a total of 32 NCAA Tournament games, owning a .500 record at 16-16.

If you are looking for someone to give you a thorough perspective of ISU in the NCAA Tournament, look no further than Eric Heft. Heft is probably the only person who has witnessed all 30 Cyclone NCAA Tournament games since 1985.

The former Cyclone star on the hardwood turned radio broadcaster has a keen knowledge of the history of ISU in the NCAA Tournament, sitting courtside for virtually all of them. He shared his thoughts and memories with us recently on ISU’s greatest games, plays and moments in the Big Dance.

Top Cyclone NCAA Tournament Wins

1. No. 7 Iowa State Beats No. 2 Michigan, 72-69 to advance to Sweet Sixteen (1986)
Setting the Stage
This game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis had tremendous hype. Iowa State head coach Johnny Orr was going against his former school in Michigan, a place where he was the head coach for 12 seasons. His former assistant, Bill Frieder, succeeded Orr as the Wolverine head coach. Michigan was the Big Ten champs with loads of talent, including players like Roy Tarpley, Gary Grant, Richard Rellford and Glen Rice.

Heft Memories
“A lot of things made that game so special. One of them simply was it was Johnny (Orr) vs. Michigan. Johnny was the winningest coach in Michigan history. It was unbelievable, the feeling around it.  Michigan was really good, and the size that they had compared to our team was off the charts. ISU had the ability to find a way to win it. Coming down the stretch, I’ve heard Pete’s (Taylor) call a number of times when (Jeff) Hornacek found Elmer (Robinson) for the dunk.  That kind of gave them the cushion that they needed to win it in the end. I still get goose bumps when I hear that, and I was sitting right next to him when he made the call. It was tremendous. I was just so happy for Iowa State, but just as every bit as happy for Johnny personally, because of how much that game meant to him.”

Iowa State's David Moss guards Michigan's Roy Tarpley as Gary Thompkins looks on. ISU upset the Wolverines, 72-69.

Iowa State’s David Moss guards Michigan’s Roy Tarpley as Gary Thompkins looks on. ISU upset the Wolverines, 72-69.

2. No. 2 Iowa State Beats No. 6 UCLA, 80-56 to advance to Elite Eight (2000)
Setting the Stage
Although UCLA was the sixth-seed, there wasn’t a hotter team in the NCAA Tournament when the Bruins and Cyclones met at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Bruins destroyed their first two opponents, including a 105-70 beat down of third-seeded Maryland. UCLA was a confident bunch heading into the Regional, but so were the Cyclones. Led by All-Americans Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley, ISU was ready. Tinsley’s former AAU team defeated a team a couple of Bruins were members of at the national tournament. He wore his AAU jersey around at the interview/practice sessions as a reminder. He delivered.

Heft Memories
“They (UCLA) were the hottest team by all of the pundits in the country. Even though they were a six seed, they were the team that everyone was picking to get to finals, or at least to the Final Four. Going into that game, I kind of bought into it. I didn’t know if Iowa State was going to be able to beat them. Just the way Jamaal Tinsley, Marcus Fizer, Mike Nurse and everyone on that team just took it to them- it was absolute destruction. It was unbelievable to know that you were going to have the chance two days later to play to go to the Final Four. It was an incredible feeling.”

Marcus Fizer was a key player in ISU's 80-56 victory over UCLA in 2000.

Marcus Fizer was a key player in ISU’s 80-56 victory over UCLA in 2000.

3. No. 3 Iowa State Beats No. 6 North Carolina, 85-83 to advance to Sweet Sixteen (2014)
Setting the Stage
Iowa State had faced national power North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament on two previous occasions only to come up short. This game was going to be difficult as well because the Cyclones were without the services of one of their best players in Georges Niang, who broke his foot in the in the second round win over North Carolina Central. In a high-scoring affair, All-American DeAndre Kane came through in the clutch with a last-second layup to put ISU back in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2000.

Heft Memories
“You’re playing one of the blue bloods (North Carolina) without one of the most indispensable players that we had in Georges Niang. I’m not sure if he was our best player, but he was one of the main guys for sure. He was a guy that I thought North Carolina couldn’t matchup with. Just the way Iowa State hung in there, and had to come from behind later in the game, was incredible. And then DeAndre Kane making the play at the end was unbelievable. They (UNC) wanted to get the ball out of his hands, but he was just so strong and moved his way to the basket. To go on to the Sweet 16 after overcoming a crippling injury, that was awesome.”

DeAndre Kane with the game-winning lay-up in the closing seconds of the Iowa State-North Carolina game in 2014.

DeAndre Kane with the game-winning lay-up in the closing seconds of the Iowa State-North Carolina game in 2014.

Top Performances

1. Kelvin Cato vs. Illinois State in 1997
Setting the Stage
One could argue that senior center Kelvin Cato posted the greatest all-around game by a Cyclone in NCAA Tournament history against Illinois State in 1997. The future NBAer tallied a career-high 29 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked a Midwest Region-record eight shots in ISU’s 69-57 victory. It was an absolute dominating performance.

Heft Memories
“I remember we were down 15-4 or something like that. I just remember when we started to get it to Cato on the block is when we started to get back into the game. On one play, he just backed down and had a turn-around dunk over their center. After that two-handed slam I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He was incredible. He completely turned the fortune of that game, without question.”

Kelvin Cato2

Kelvin Cato dunks home two of his career-high 29 points in ISU’s 69-57 win over Illinois State in 1997.

2. Dedric Willoughby vs. UCLA in 1997
Setting the Stage
Dedric Willoughby almost single-handily led the Cyclones to an Elite Eight appearance with his incredible performance vs. UCLA in 1997. ISU lost a heartbreaker, 74-73, in overtime when Cameron Dollar scored a high-arcing lay-up over the outstretched arms of Kelvin Cato at the buzzer. Despite the loss, Willoughby was phenomenal. The senior All-American tied the school record for most points in a NCAA Tournament game with 34 (Lafester Rhodes, Dustin Hogue) and drilled eight 3-pointers, the most by a Cyclone in the NCAA Tournament.

Heft Memories
“He was unbelievable. Dedric hit so many big shots in that game. His performance was I think the best I’ve ever seen by a Cyclone. I know that it was the most a Cyclone ever scored in the NCAA Tournament. That’s a game where you’re playing against a really good team, and one guy is taking control. They were doing everything they could to keep him from getting the ball, but he moved so well without the ball and he could catch and shoot deep threes.”

Top Plays

1. Jeff Hornacek sinks buzzer-beater to defeat Miami (Ohio) in 1986
Setting the Stage
Buzzer-beaters are always great. They are even better in the postseason. With the final possession in a tie game in overtime (79-79), Johnny Orr called the play he always used for the final shot. It involved a baseline screen for Jeff Hornacek. The goal was to get him the ball for a jump shot in between the key and corner. The play worked to perfection, as Hornacek caught the ball in stride and nailed a 26-footer as time expired to give ISU the 81-79 victory.

Heft Memories
“I think we kind of forget it sometimes, but this was ISU’s first NCAA Tournament win in 42 years. Jeff Hornacek hitting that bomb in overtime to give you a chance to play Michigan, and to get that first tournament win in so many years, it was awesome. Sometimes I think that first one for a program might be the hardest. One of the things that people forget is that even though Hornacek was one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA during his career, he wasn’t a great perimeter shooter in college. That’s really something that people forget, but some guys are clutch, and obviously Hornacek was as clutch as they come. He was an incredible player and point guard for us, and an incredible two-guard in the NBA.”

2. Royce White steal and dunk vs. Kentucky in 2012
Setting the Stage
Kentucky’s 2012 NCAA championship team was formidable to say the least. Of the seven players that played in the game for the Wildcats, six of them made the NBA (the only player to appear in the game who has not played in the NBA was Kyle Wiltjer, who is currently a senior All-American at Gonzaga). ISU sophomore Royce White had his coming out party that week. He had 15 points and 13 rebounds in ISU’s win over defending champion UConn in the second round and then posted 23 points and nine rebounds against No. 1 Kentucky. A play White made against NBA All-Star Anthony Davis stood out for Heft.

Heft Memories
“One of my favorite memories was Anthony Davis, the best player in college basketball, being guarded by Royce White on the baseline in Louisville. Royce strips the ball from him, dribbles through three All-Americans and goes coast-to-coast for a slam dunk early in the game. That was one of the most incredible plays. Granted it (the game) didn’t have the outcome we wanted, but if you want to talk about one individual play that just epitomized how good Royce was, I think that was it.”

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