Both Iowa and Iowa State entered the 2010-2011 season with new coaching staffs and not a lot of expectations. Their seasons would go almost the same, just vice-versa.
Iowa State went into the season with a veteran point guard with a ton to prove in Diante Garrett, a sharpshooter in Scotty Christopherson, another unproven senior in Jamie Vanderbeken, a transfer from Northern Illinois in Jake Anderson, and a freshman ready to take his skills to the Big 12 in Melvin Ejim. Not much else after that though.
The Cyclones' depth was going to be a HUGE concern going into the season, but they started off pretty hot. Iowa State opened up the season winning 13 of their first 15 games. The only two losses Iowa State suffered were at Northern Iowa and at home to the California Golden Bears. Both losses were taken to the wire, but Iowa State just couldn't pull it off.
This would be a future trend that would haunt the Cyclones. Iowa State looked great going into the conference schedule. Some thought Fred Hoiberg would take Iowa State back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five long years. Diante Garrett looked fantastic at the point, Scotty Christopherson was the best three-point shooter in the country, statistically, and the Cyclones were rolling along.
But that's when it all went south for the cardinal and gold. The Cycones just could not close out a game, losing nine Big 12 games by 10 points or less. At one point, Iowa State lost 10 straight Big 12 games; unbelievable turn of events. Iowa State went from a for-sure lock to the Big Dance to not being in question for the NIT. But towards season's end, there was no question that Iowa State would not be going anywhere in March unless they won the Big 12 Tournament. They lost to Colorado by two. Imagine that.
The Iowa Hawkeyes, on the other hand, returned plenty of starters for new coach Fran McCaffrey. Jerryd Cole, Matt Gatens, Eric May, Cully Payne, and Andrew Brommer all returned, alongside a ton of incoming talents in Bryce Cartwright, Melsahn Basabe, Roy Marble, and Zach McCabe.
But the Hawkeyes started off very sluggish, losing to South Dakota State and Long Beach State to open up the year. The brightest moment for Iowa in the non-conference schedule was a win over rival Northern Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It wasn't a huge win, but it was a building block for the Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes opened up conference with six straight losses before winning at home to the cellar-dwelling Indiana Hoosiers. A few weeks later, the underdog Hawkeyes would lay down a HUGE beat down on Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye. That got Hawkeye Nation on their feet, and the fanbase was indeed "Mad Again."
The Hawks won a road game at Indiana and then laid down a huge shocker on Purdue for their senior night. While they only achieved four wins in conference, that was a huge plus for Hawkeye Basketball and the fanbase.
The question lies, who had the better season? Sure, the Cyclones won more games and beat the Hawkeyes head to head, but the Hawkeyes won more conference games and beat rival Northern Iowa, as well as having a signature win over Purdue at the end of the year. So I leave you with this question? Who had the better year?
Never in the history of mankind has a .500 ballclub had a worse year than an 11-20 team they beat in regular season. Iowa State had the better year and Iowa State has the better future. Iowa State is going to be a Sweet 16 team next year, if all goes according to plan.
Ex-Michigan State guard Chris Allen is taking over the point, sharpshooter Scotty Christopherson will remain at shooting guard and Penn State transfer Chris Babb is the leading contender to take over the wing. Returning starter Melvin Ejim and ex-Gopher Royce White will be down low in the paint.
Not only that, but former Top 50 recruit Anthony Booker will supply some depth on bench, and so will Charles Godfrey, who will actually compete for a starting position against Ejim. To top it all off, Fred Hoiberg and his staff brought in a Top 20 recruiting class to fill up the bench. Iowa State is going places next year, ladies and gentlemen.
Iowa will be okay next year. I'd say around .500.; no tourney, but maybe an NIT bid. They are two-three years away from going dancing under Fran McCaffrey. Don't be ashamed, Iowa Basketball is back on track, but it'll be their turn to be the little brother when it comes to the hardwood. Iowa State is the future of college basketball in the state of Iowa.
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