Saturday, November 13, 2010


Christmas tunes and warnings of a potential winter storm rang over the radio airwaves on my 15-minute commute to Hilton Coliseum. The frigid walk across the endless span of parking lot was filled with excitement and anticipation in the wake of a new season. And Fred Hoiberg once again graced the hardwood floors as an Iowa State Cyclone. It was the perfect night for basketball.

Even without a huge amount of pomp and circumstance, I've never seen so many photos taken of a coach before a game as there were with Hoiberg. You would have thought the late, great John Wooden had come back to life and was standing courtside. Nearly every poster, t-shirt, and promotion in the area is plastered with Hoiberg’s name or picture. Yes, it was the dawn of a new era for ISU men’s basketball, and despite the alarmingly early date for hoops, I wasn't about to miss it.

It was evident from the very start that Hoiberg is going to let them run and gun. The game started with two straight three-point baskets by senior Jamie Vanderbeken, and the first four shot attempts for the Cyclones were all three-pointers. In fact, 7 of the first 9 made baskets were treys as ISU jumped to an early 25-10 lead. The first half was a two-man show, with Diante Garrett and Vanderbeken accounting for all 35 points. Garrett had 15 at the break and Vanderbeken had 20 as the Cyclones took a 35-20 lead into the locker room. The team was 8-16 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Northern Arizona’s defensive focus on Vanderbeken and Garrett in the second half allowed some other Cyclones to shine. The half began with a 5-0 run with a quick bucket from freshman Melvin Ejim (who’s going to be really good), and another three-pointer by Scott Christopherson. Ejim and Jake Anderson (a transfer from Northern Illinois) both had a big second half as the Cyclones ran away from Northern Arizona, 78-64. Anderson was a three-year starter at Northern Illinois, and should have a big impact for Iowa State in his only season of eligibility. He ranks 18th in career scoring for the Huskies.

Four players finished in double digit scoring for the Cyclones—Vanderbeken (23), Garrett (19), Anderson (15) and Ejim (10). Iowa State made 11 three-point baskets in 23 attempts for the night.

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