First time against in-state rival Hawkeyes for many

Jake Lovett

Friday night, Iowa State will travel east to Iowa City to face its in-state rival Hawkeyes.

Fred Hoiberg has done this before; Diante Garrett, too.

The rest of the ISU men’s basketball team? Not so much.

“Two games combined with five minutes, maybe,” said ISU senior Jamie Vanderbeken. “It’ll be fun to see what it’s all about for the first time.”

Vanderbeken has played in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He played one minute in the Cyclones’ 73-57 loss in 2008.

In 2009, he played two minutes.

But Vanderbeken isn’t the only part of the 2010 version of the Cyclones that doesn’t have much experience playing against the Hawkeyes.

Garrett, Vanderbeken and junior Scott Christopherson are the only players with Cy-Hawk experience, and only Vanderbeken has played in the unfriendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye.

“We’ve just to go down there together as a team and handle business,” Garrett said. “It’s going to be real tough, because all of the fans are going to be right on top of you. They all want to see us lose.”

Hoiberg’s squad has opened the year 7-2, but has lost two of its last three to in-state rival Northern Iowa and the Pac-10’s California.

The Hawkeyes, playing under a new coach of their own in Fran McCaffery, just knocked off Northern Iowa 51-39 and sit at 5-4.

McCaffery imported his up-tempo style from his last post at Siena College, and his young Hawkeyes are scoring 71.3 points per game. However, Hoiberg’s bunch like playing quickly, too, and have scored 79.8 points per game, 32nd in the country.

“That’s one of our advantages this year is getting up and down the court, Garrett said. “Guards have been making the right decisions, playing unselfish and having fun out there. If we can do that same transition playing Friday, we can come out and try and get a W.”

The Iowa defense will likely play several different styles to try and slow down the Iowa State offense.

Against Northern Iowa, the Hawkeyes featured different types of zone, man-to-man and full-court looks, and held the Panthers to just 39 points on 27.3 percent shooting.

“Fran does a great job with changing up his defenses, so we just need to be prepared for anything,” Hoiberg said.

For Iowa State, any full-court pressure would be a change from the normally half-court oriented teams it has faced in its first nine games.

And, since the Cyclones will have just 10 healthy bodies on the bench, the extra pressure may push the regulars more than they’re used to.

“We haven’t seen it a whole lot, but if they come out and press then hopefully that means it’ll be an up-tempo game,” Christopherson said. “I think that’s the style of play we’d prefer to play.”

The Cyclones start two guards in Garrett and senior transfer Jake Anderson who have had experience playing the point guard position. Their experience handling the ball in the backcourt will be an advantage in trying to be successful against multiple Hawkeye defenses.

“It’s always nice to have upperclassmen in your backcourt,” Hoiberg said. “With Diante and Jake, we feel comfortable when the ball is in their hands.”

But, the pressure on the floor combined with the pressure from the hostile crowd will be a new experience for nearly all of the Cyclones on the floor.

Iowa State played Dec. 1 at in-state rival Northern Iowa’s McLeod Center, but only 6,489 were in attendance in Cedar Falls. A crowd closer to 15,000 could pack itself in to Carver-Hawkeye for Friday night’s matchup.

“It’ll be good for our young guys; it’ll be good to experience that kind of atmosphere,” Hoiberg said. “That’s what we’re going to experience every night in the Big 12.”

The Cyclones have three freshmen that play significant minutes — Melvin Ejim, Jordan Railey and Calvin Godfrey — that haven’t played a road game against a “Power Six” opponent like Iowa.

And only two Cyclones, Garrett and Christopherson, have played more than Vanderbeken’s three minutes against the rival Hawkeyes.

“It’s a fun college environment,” Hoiberg said. “It’ll be very hostile in there, and we know that. It’s just the way the rivalry is.”