HOOPS EDITORIAL: Beware the learning curve

Editorial Board

Both the men’s and women’s teams had very different looks heading into last season.

The men’s team saw six new players on the court, along with a 6’8, 270-pound point forward facilitate the offense. The women’s team saw Nikki Moody take over point guard, and Chelsea Poppens explode onto the Big 12 scene.

One thing Iowa State fans weren’t quite expecting was the start both teams encountered.

The women’s team started the Big 12 season 0-5, a hole no one expected them to crawl out of.

The men’s team wasn’t gelling and didn’t know how to play as a team, losing to the likes of Drake and Northern Iowa early in the season.

The point is it took time for both teams to figure out their respective identities.

It took almost half the season for the women’s team to gel, for Moody to get a feel for the Big 12 and for the rest of the team to play around Poppens.

It took the men’s team even longer to figure out how to play around a player as unique as Royce White. In their last nonconference game Dec. 31, 2011, the Cyclones narrowly defeated Mississippi Valley State by two points.

But only a few days later, they upset Texas at Hilton and started the Big 12 conference schedule 8-4.

The women started the Big 12 season 0-5. ISU coach Bill Fennelly never doubted the fact they’d come back. 

After one of the worst losses of the season Jan. 14, Fen-nelly said: “We’re going to finish this season the way we should,” and they certainly did. 

After the 0-5 start, the Cyclones went on an 8-2 run through the best conference in women’s basketball.

Both teams discovered the way they needed to operate and win games. Both teams went on runs and found themselves in the NCAA Tournament.

It just took time.

That’s the case fans should understand. It might take time like last year. The men’s team loses its top three scorers, while they bring in Korie Lucious and Will Clyburn along with a big freshmen class.

The women’s team loses it’s two starting senior guards Lauren Mansfield and Chassidy Cole. They also bring in three freshmen and a transfer.

Both teams might not click right away. There might not be immediate success. Like last year, once they do click and get things going in the right direction, there is the likelihood both teams wind up in postseason play.

It just might take some time to get there.