Iowa State harping on fundamentals in preparation for TCU rematch

Rasir Bolton attempts to pass the ball back out to a teammate against Texas Tech on Feb.22 in Hilton Coliseum. 

Matt Belinson

A 30-point loss to Texas Tech in Hilton Coliseum has brought Iowa State back to the basics.

The newfound focus of going back to learning basic fundamentals and knowing basic defensive assignments comes after a two week stretch of games that has seen Iowa State give up 81 or more points in four straight games.

And now with the Cyclones heading to Fort Worth, Texas, for a rematch with the TCU Horned Frogs, a team that won 81-79 over the Cyclones in the conference opener, fixing defensive lapses will be top priority.

“We gotta figure out ways to get our mental and physical toughness back,” Head Coach Steve Prohm said.

Prohm said that Iowa State will switch up what practice looks like with two weeks left in the regular season, adding more drills on building the groundwork to reworking defensive assignments. Iowa State’s lack of toughness and attention to detail ended up being the deciding factor against the Red Raiders for Prohm, making practice time the best opportunity in season to address glaring defensive issues that have continued to follow Iowa State game after game.

The Cyclones are the only team that have given up more than 68 points to TCU in conference play and allowed the Frogs to shoot their Big 12 high 51.7 percent from the field and 51.9 percent from three point range on Jan. 4.

Of all of the fixes Iowa State is preparing for TCU, guarding ball screens correctly, guarding Desmond Bane and improving transition defense are being listed as top priority for Prohm and the Cyclones. TCU’s success on offense has not been matched close to the amount it got against the Cyclones, another reason as to why Prohm sees the fundamental mistakes as more frustrating than encouraging.

“A lot of stuff is so fixable and that’s what’s probably most frustrating thing from everybody’s part,” Prohm said.

In the loss to Texas Tech, Prohm said he charted 16 true fundamental mistakes with his team in film review, with most of the mistakes being pointed out on the spot by players. Prohm said once again that Iowa State gets “99 out of 100” questions right on what to fix in film review but for some reason, the simple details have not translated into game action.

George Conditt has an answer for why the technique and discipline hasn’t translated from practice to game time: It starts and stops with the players.

“It’s always on us, it’s not on him, we have to take the blame for this one, he can’t keep taking the blame for everything, this time it’s on the players,” Conditt said. “Players have to step up and actually want to do things.”

The sophomore forward scored a season-high 19 points against the Horned Frogs in a season high 31 minutes of action, going to the foul line and grabbing rebounds.

Conditt said at this point in the season, not executing and allowing massive amounts of points game after game is unacceptable for the team. Conditt’s frustration about the defensive issues comes from his desire to win for the two seniors on the roster — Michael Jacobson and Prentiss Nixon.

Conditt said he has a strong relationship with Nixon, who Conditt has known since high school. Conditt said that the constant losing and large margins of defeat are not proper ways to send seniors out.

With four games left in the regular season, Conditt said the Cyclones have to come together as a team and want to figure out the issues they can’t seem to solve — and it starts with TCU.

Tre Jackson backed up Conditt’s frustration with the poor defense that the Cyclones have had over the last four games, but the freshman said practice is going to be the best time for Iowa State to focus on the fundamentals that the team seems to lose focus of when it comes time to step on the floor.

Jackson said the issue for the Cyclones is that they have trouble remembering assignments and the details in practice and applying them when the game gets out of control, where the defense can’t get set and offense becomes rushed when it doesn’t need to be.

“I believe we got all the fundamentals that we needed,” Jackson said. “I just believe that we aren’t focused on translating those fundamentals to the game as best as we needed to.