Iowa State men’s basketball: Evaluating the ‘vastly overrated’ Cyclones


The Iowa State men’s basketball team moved to 11-0 on the season and have their best start in school history. With a higher number posted next to their team on Monday, the Cyclones did what they needed to do prove that ranking and might reach even higher with solid wins over Akron and Boise State.

Dec 25, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; The Iowa State Cyclones hold the winning trophy after defeating the Boise State Broncos 70-66 to win the 2013 Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

But more national attention bring in people that don’t believe the Cyclones should be a top 15 team. There are certainly flaws that all of us saw with the slow starts and lack of depth that was showcased in Honolulu, but Tyler Leli of Rant Sports looked at Iowa State’s “Diamond Classic” run during the holiday and considers them “vastly overrated.”

Let’s break down Leli’s observations in his article on how a team that defeated Michigan, BYU, and Iowa before defeating the Broncos is “vastly overrated.”

"Chief amongst the reasons that one should be concerned is that Iowa State was barely able to scoot by a Boise State team that is at best an average team on the national landscape, and holds little chance of even advancing to the NCAA tournament’s first round."

Well, everything about that sentence is false. Boise State is actually a resume builder for Iowa State with a current RPI ranking of 36th. At best, the Broncos are a serious contender in the Mountain West and are looking to build off of their 21-11 finish and fourth-place finish in the conference. And I have no idea what Leli means when talking about how they have “little chance of even advancing to the NCAA tournament’s first round” when the “first four” is actually the first round and that doesn’t require advancement.

"[T]he Cyclones only won the rebounding battle by a count of 36-31, which while still a victory, is not very encouraging considering that the Broncos ranked 214th in the nation at rebounding prior to tip-off."

On average, Iowa State gives up 36.5 rebounds per game, so that was actually an improvement on what they do.

"Possibly even more discouraging than the board battle was the extreme reliance that head coach Fred Hoiberg showed on his starting five.  During the game Iowa State’s bench did not pick up a single point and only had three rebounds, while barely seeing a sniff of the floor as a group."

The lack of depth, which really only happened this season in Honolulu, was probably due to Hoiberg just rolling with the big four. They were dominating in the win over Akron and while it would have been nice to see others step up, no other player did and they had their chances. The game against Boise State was the only game where assists weren’t close to the amount of field goals made. That was due to DeAndre Kane shooting more and converting on 3-point shots at a rapid rate. Of course, none of that was brought up.

"But what they will also do is get out rebounded against any team that has any sort of a big man, as each of the starters are listed under 6-foot-7, and will never be regarded as a true center."

Last year when the Cyclones were undersized, Melvin Ejim lead the Big 12 in rebounding with 9.3 per game and Iowa State finished second in the Big 12 with 38.3 rebounds ahead of teams like Baylor that had a “true center.” So one can’t just make that assumption when they do a little research.

Here’s the problem with the article: the title is terribly worded and it’s solely focused on one game. It’s clear that the author did not watch Iowa State play before the event or would have brought up more about how freshman players like Matt Thomas and Monte Morris have made a big impact on the season. Something other than making it sound like he knows next to nothing about the team.

Instead, it’s simply an attention grab by calling Iowa State “vastly overrated.” It’s a badly written article that didn’t showcase any research; something that the author probably spent 14 minutes on and just blasted Iowa State. His only positive commentary on the Cyclones were the big four “can go off for a portion of the game.” This article is clearly geared to rile up fans and create page views, and even worse is the author trying to defend his article.

When an article like this is put out to reel in the angry fans, obviously intelligent sports conversation won’t happen.