As I worked on wrapping up the 2013-14 men’s basketball season I had a chance to reflect on what was one of the most exhilarating seasons in school history. My first season working with the men’s basketball team was quite the ride. It was filled with awards for the players and many memorable wins. I decided to jot down 16 thoughts.. Here they are, in no particular order:
16. This team performed as one all season long. It didn’t matter who was scoring, they just wanted to win. That is evidenced by a couple of different stats:
– ISU was the ONLY team in the nation with three guys ranked in the top-200 in assists. That’s right. DeAndre Kane (18th, 5.9), Monté Morris (189th, 3.7) and Georges Niang (200th, 3.6) all ranked in the top-200 for assists per game. They averaged a combined 13.2 assists per game, better than 219 TEAMS in the country.
– Five different players scored at least 25 points in a game this season: Melvin Ejim (48 vs. TCU, 25 vs. Texas, 30 vs. K-State), Naz Long (26 vs. UNC Wilmington), Dustin Hogue (34 vs. UCONN), Georges Niang (27 vs. Oklahoma, 25 vs. Kansas), DeAndre Kane (30 vs. Baylor, 26 at Oklahoma State, 27 vs. Oklahoma State).
15. The Cyclones’ two-headed monster of Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane was special. Not very often do you get two guys that can do so many things well. Kane was on triple-double watch in every game, falling just short on numerous occasions. Ejim’s career double-double numbers were insane (32). The duo made up the only players in the Big 12 to rank in the top-10 of the league in scoring and rebounding. Kane was in the top-10 of eight categories, while Ejim ranked among the league leaders in seven categories. Impressive.
14. The Cyclones had an uncanny ability to take care of the ball. Much of that started with Morris, who, by now you all know, broke the NCAA record for assist-to-turnover ratio (4.79). The Cyclones turned it over just 10.6 times per game, an ISU school record. The total ranked 37th nationally.
13. The best play that didn’t count? Ejim’s dunk at the end of regulation at Oklahoma State. Just think if the game would have ended on that dunk.
But then we wouldn’t have gotten this, which was pretty awesome.
12. One of the most underrated moments of the season had to be coming back from 18 points down against UNI at Wells Fargo Arena. There was just 16:46 left when the Cyclones faced their biggest deficit. ISU would slowly climb back into and actually own a three-point lead when Seth Tuttle banked in a three to force overtime.
Ejim, Hogue and Kane combined to score 18 of ISU’s 20 points in the overtime period and the Cyclones improved to 7-0.
Relive the game here.
11. One of the coolest moments for me personally came on Nov. 17 when we were getting set to host Michigan. As tipoff was nearing, Dick Vitale walked over and said “Matt, I gotta see Johnny. Where is he? My producer is going to kill me because we are supposed to be rehearsing, but I gotta see Johnny.” Nathan Terry, an associate director of marketing for the ISU Athletics Department, helped me to track him down and Johnny rode the elevator down and the two longtime friends shared a special moment.
I had no idea at that time how special it would end up being. I’m just so grateful to all the people that helped get Coach Orr back to Hilton Coliseum one last time. What a special day that was.
10. I honestly thought that my hearing was shot after the Iowa game. When Mike Gesell stepped up to the line for those two free throws, Hilton Coliseum was like nothing I have ever heard. You rocked, Cyclone Nation.
9. You know what was cool about DeAndre Kane? Well besides everything, of course. The guy could score just about whenever he wanted, but two of the biggest plays of the season came when he passed it off to Naz Long in both games against Oklahoma State. That guy wanted to win and would do anything to do so.
8. The celebration against Oklahoma State when Naz Long hit the three in the home finale was crazy.
Kudos to you all for not storming the court like you probably wanted. We still had to play overtime, though it would have been easy to forget!
7. My two favorite dunks this season:
Ejim vs. Texas
Hogue vs. Kansas
Ejim’s for degree of difficulty and Hogue’s for how hard he threw it through the basket.
6. I felt like much of the tone for the season was set with ISU’s win at BYU. It was the first time of eight that the Cyclones came from double-digits down to win. Not only did they do that, they did it on an opponent’s court that is nearly impossible to win on. In the last nine years BYU is 131-12 at home. They win 91.6 percent of the time at the Marriott Center. I’d venture to guess that in those 12 losses, not many have come after they led by double-digits.
5. This Cyclone team could score points in bunches. Only once did they not reach the 70-point plateau (at Baylor). Think about this for a second. In the Big 12 Championship game, Iowa State started 0-13 from the field and shot 32 percent from the field in the first half and still scored 74 points.
Against UCONN, the Cyclones scored 23 points in the final 5:14 of the game. Bottom line is this, with Fred Hoiberg in charge the Cyclones will rarely be out of a game, regardless of how cold they might be from the floor. That’s promising.
4. Ejim’s 48 point game against TCU was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Actually, I’ll probably never see something like that again. What made it really cool was the fact that his teammates just kept finding him. I remember thinking to myself that it was cool that Melvin was going to get a career-high. Next thing I knew he had 30 and then 40. To score 48 points and grab 18 rebounds is just incredible. No NBA or college player had done that since Shaq. Nice company, Mel!
3. Speaking of Ejim, how cool was it to have a guy like him represent Iowa State University? Scholar-Athlete in every sense of the word.
2. It was impressive to watch as DeAndre Kane tutored Monté Morris through his first season. An interesting Morris stat that you may not have noticed, of all freshmen in the Big 12, Morris was the only one that attempted at least 50 three-pointers and shot over 40 percent on them.
1. The turnout in Kansas City. Absolutely unbelievable. I was shocked. I expected a good turnout, but nothing like that. You all were awesome all year. From game one against UNC Wilmington to game 36 against UCONN. As you filed in before the Baylor game, ESPN’s Holly Rowe walked by and commented on how incredible our fans are. I can’t disagree. Thanks for being the best fans in the country!
So what do you think, Cyclone Nation? Do you have anything you want to add to my list?
Follow Shoultz on twitter, @mjshoultz.