Outlooks different for Cyclone men and women


Photo: Zhenru Zhang/Iowa State Daily

Coach Fred Hoiberg guides the Cyclones to victory during the game against Nebraska Feb. 26 at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State defeated Nebraska 83-82.

Jeremiah Davis

As both the men’s and women’s basketball seasons come to an end, the final games for the teams have a much different meaning.

The Cyclone squads are on two opposite ends of the spectrum as far as expectations and hopes for the immediate future. Two different feelings and atmospheres heading into the Big 12 tournament. Two different goals.

For the ISU men, barring a magical run in the Big 12 tournament, Wednesday could mark the end of a frustrating first year for coach Fred Hoiberg. 

While most knew this season probably wasn’t going to set the world on fire, hopes were reasonably high when the Cyclones entered their Big 12 schedule with only two losses. But a 10-game midseason losing streak has a way of deflating hopes in a big hurry.

A handful of games lost in the final minutes and a lack of depth so obvious that even the fans felt tired for the seven-man rotation left everyone involved feeling disappointed. Back-to-back wins over Nebraska and Colorado eased the pain a bit, but there’s no doubting that when members of the 2010-11 Cyclones look back on this year, all those close losses will linger.

“If we go back and look at some of the things we did well and just keep doing those [things] and practice and get prepared for it,” said senior guard Diante Garrett. “And [also] look at the things we didn’t do so good, so we can learn from that so we don’t get put in those positions again.”

If they can surprise a team or two in the Big 12 tournament and get a few wins on the way out, those close losses could hurt even less and also mean a lot to the players personally, especially Garrett’s fellow outgoing seniors — Jake Anderson and Jamie Vanderbeken.

“Personally for me, it’s [important to] play as much basketball as possible,” Vanderbeken said. “Try to help the team out, but on a personal note to help me out as well.”

The end of the season also marks the end of Garrett’s career as a Cyclone. Say what you want about his future beyond Iowa State, but while he was here he gave everything he had to the program. He’s played more games than any other Cyclone has and fully embraced his role as leader when Hoiberg needed him too. He didn’t run at the first sign of frustration or trouble like some players have. 

The men shouldn’t hang their heads in shame by any means, but the season definitely isn’t ending the way I’m sure they hoped it would.

But just because the men’s season doesn’t look like it will go past the next one or two games, there’s no reason to give up on ISU sports and plan for Spring Break or summer. The women’s team is set for yet another run in the NCAA tournament.

The Cyclones have leaned on Kelsey Bolte quite a bit this year, and she has held up — enough that the Big 12 rewarded her with first-team All-Conference honors. With help from players like freshman Hallie Christofferson and sophomore Chelsea Poppens, Bolte has led her team to a top-five finish in the regular season Big 12 standings — despite a loss in the final regular season game to Missouri in Columbia.

The ISU women are entering their Big 12 Tournament with hopes of advancing a few rounds, hoping to avoid the buzzsaw that is Baylor and Brittney Griner, and getting ready for the NCAA tournament. 

Coming to the end of their season, the uncertainty from the beginning of the year is gone, and hopes for what’s up next is high. There’s almost no “wait ’til next year” with the men’s team. There’s plenty to look forward to for the women in the short term.

In contrast, the 2011-2012 season and beyond brings high hopes for the men, with more uncertainty for the women due to their anchor Bolte graduating. So in both the short and long term, the men’s and women’s teams are in very different places.

One ending that is all too familiar and all too disappointing, and another ending that people have come to expect from Bill Fennelly-coached teams. One outlook for the future that is full of hope for a return to former days of glory and another outlook that is questionable and uncertain. 

Luckily for everyone else, those two endings and outlooks will keep people interested.