Iowa State hired former Cyclone great Fred Hoiberg three years ago with no previous head coaching on his resume, but a lengthy background highlighted by a good career in the NBA. What Hoiberg has done over the past three years has been exceptionally fun to watch. Iowa State has long been a doormat to many Big-12 foes, but in the past few years that has started to change. Hoiberg may have little to none coaching experience but his players respect him and he has a university behind him.
Iowa State is currently 19-9, while boasting a 9-6 record in the Big 12. They dropped an OT decision to a tough Kansas squad the other evening in which the NCAA later said that there was "some missed calls that potentially affected the outcome of the game". But nonetheless, the Cyclones will continue on their journey to March where they look to surprise some of the biggest names in college basketball. They rank in the top 20 respectively in assists, points and rebounds per game under Hoiberg. Their key wins are over Baylor (who currently is on ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi's last four in) and 13th-ranked Kansas State. A win against Kansas at home would've more or less sealed the deal for the Cyclones, but they will probably need to win 2 of their last 3 against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and West Virginia to get in.
Having three senior starters in Will Clyburn, Tyrus McGee and Korie Lucious definitely helps keep the team together throughout the season having that veteran leadership. Lucious, a transfer from Michigan State, has produced tremendously this season for Hoiberg, leading the team in assists with almost six per game. Clyburn and McGee have both shared the spotlight in terms of scoring, and are both averaging just under 15 points per game this season. Hoiberg has taken a school that has never truly been known for basketball, and put them back on the map.
The Cyclones made it to the third round of last year's NCAA tournament before losing to John Calipari and eventual champion Kentucky. Hoiberg's dominance and recent success as a college coach is pretty remarkable considering how little coaching experience he has. But Hoiberg was lucky enough to learn from the like's of Larry Brown, Larry Bird, Flip Saunders and Kevin McHale. One of the important traits that Hoiberg has is his keen knack for absorbing a ton of basketball knowledge. While playing at Iowa State, he was an academic All-American.
Hoiberg was well-known for his 3-point shooting prowess during his time in the NBA, and most notably was the leading 3-point shooter in his last season in the league. He has used his sharp-shooting knowledge at the college level where his team is first in the country in 3-point field goals made, and senior Tyrus McGee is shooting 45% from three-point range, which is good for 2nd in the Big 12. Hoiberg has built the Cyclones around an infusion of transfer talent, and they are one of the most efficient basketball teams in the country.
Iowa State took a gamble on Hoiberg that ended up paying off, and they are now reaping the benefits. Big 12 basketball is getting more competitive as the years pass, and the Cyclones seem well-equipped for the future of the program. Hilton Coliseum and the rest of the Cyclone faithful are very pleased to have Hoiberg roaming the sideline for the foreseeable future, which definitely bodes well for their postseason chances.