ISU basketball fails to live up to high expectations

Unfortunately for ISU mens’ basketball and ISU fans, it doesn’t look like they will be invited to the big dance. Barring a miraculous run in the Big 12 Tournament, it looks as if the loss to Baylor, of all universities, sealed the deal. Had ISU finished the season with a four game win streak, to finish at 8-8 in the conference, and had capped it off with a good run in the Big 12 tournament, they could have had a chance to get into the NCAA Tournament. Even if ISU wins the rest of their games in the regular season, the outlook is still bleak; no Big 12 team with a 7-9 conference record has played in the NCAA Tournament. What happened to this highly anticipated season? I hate to sound cliché, but I truly believe that the keys to winning basketball games are defense and rebounding. With Jared Homan off toiling away in FIBA Europe, the ISU basketball team took a hit in both areas. At the beginning of the season it seemed like we had good, possibly better, replacements for Jared Homan with highly touted Shawn Taggart, homeboy Ross Marsden, Indiana transfer Jessan Gray, and Jiri Hubalek. But then we learned that none of these guys rebound. At all. In 23 minutes a game, Ross Marsden averages 2.8 rebounds, in 14 minutes a game Jessan Gray averages 2.1 rebounds, in 18 minutes a game Shawn Taggart averages 3.6 rebounds, and in 20 minutes a game Jiri Hubalek averages 3.4 rebounds, this is just ridiculous. However, I don’t place all the blame on these tall trees (all over 6’10’’); they are all in their first year in the Big 12. As for defense, I’m not even sure that the ISU basketball players know that they aren’t playing good defense. For example, after the loss to Baylor, in which they gave up 91 points, Curtis Stinson said, “I thought we played good defense.” Someone should tell him that Baylor shot 55% from the field and a total of 30 free throws. Also, after the Oklahoma game, Rahshon Clark rated the team’s defensive effort as a B, even though Oklahoma shot 54% from the field, and Michael Neal had 29 points on 9 of 15 shooting. So, who’s to blame (because somebody has to be blamed for this disaster)? As usual, it’s the coach, Wayne Morgan. The problem is discipline; there are numerous rumors that say that players are left with decisions regarding practice, even to the extent whether or not they practice. ISU doesn’t play as a team; it might be due to the fact that they don’t really have an offense other than “stand around and watch Stinson/Blalock do something in the lane.” Another problem is that when losing to the worst team in the Big 12, all Wayne Morgan does is sit in his chair with his Wayne Morgan look of disappointment. Maybe this is some new psychological aspect to coaching, but it’s clearly not working. In addition, how does ISU have four players over 6’10’’ averaging below four rebounds a game? Is that even possible? Don’t get me wrong, I like Wayne Morgan, he’s a great recruiter, but that’s all. ISU has the talent to be a top school, but without a top-notch coach, we won’t take the next step away from mediocrity.