Know Your Foe: Iowa State Cyclones


For the first time this season, the Missouri Tigers mens basketball team will be forced to recover after a loss. The Kansas State Wildcats handed the Tigers their first defeat of the season, a 75-59 loss in which the Wildcats controlled the majority of the game. The Tigers will have to leave their troubles in Manhattan as they travel up to Ames, IA to face the Iowa State Cyclones.

Iowa State was officially established in 1858 as the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. It operated as such until the Morrill Act was passed in 1862, when it was designated as Iowa’s land-grant college. It focused on making higher education available to everyone, and on teaching “liberal and practical subjects”. In its early days, the University served as both a fully functional university, but also had various agricultural experimentation in what was called the Iowa Experiment Station. The practicality of its agriculture curriculum allowed students to become functional farmers, as well as students.

In 1879, the nation’s first veterinary school was established at Iowa State, allowing students to complete a two-year program and receive a separate veterinary diploma, rather than just taking veterinary classes within general curriculum. The University continued expanding during the early 20th century until it officially became Iowa State University of Science and Technology in 1959. Iowa State’s new focus on technology led to further breakthroughs at the school, including the creation of the first binary computer, which can still be found on the ISU campus.

Today ISU’s 29,887 students can choose from 100 majors in eight different colleges, including their pioneering veterinary medicine and agriculture schools. Students keep plenty busy outside of the classrooms, with over 800 student organizations to choose from. There are also several historic landmarks on campus, including the Campanile, a bell tower constructed in 1898 which rings out tunes ranging from Iowa State’s fight song to Lady Gaga. It is said that one does not become a “true Iowa Stater” until being kissed under the Campanile at midnight. Other significant campus landmarks include Lake LaVerne, home to a pair of mute swans Sir Lancelot and Elaine, and the Farm House Museum, which was the first building constructed on campus when it was built in 1860.

Another major event for ISU students to enjoy is Veishea, a huge student run celebration that takes place over an entire week in spring. It is the largest student run festival in the country, and has annually brought tens of thousands of visitors, including presidents Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson, along with many other celebrities and performers. It began in 1922, when it was decided that celebrations held by the colleges of Iowa State to recruit new students and showcase their accomplishments should be combined into one large celebration. The name VEISHEA stands for each of Iowa State’s colleges originally involved (Veterinary medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics, Agriculture). The celebration traditionally includes a parade, Veishea Village which is where ISU’s student groups participate, and a performance known as Stars Over Veishea.

To go along with countless opportunities for students to become involved, sports fans can cheer on the Cyclones’ 16 varsity teams that are offered. Iowa State’s most recent national championship in any sport came in 1994 in men’s cross country, though their most successful program overall has been its wrestling program. The Cyclones have won eight wrestling national championships (though none since 1987) and has produced 65 individual NCAA champions, as well as many olympians.

Iowa State’s basketball program hasn’t been quite as successful as its wrestling, but saw a decent amount of success during the late 1980s through the early 2000s, reaching the NCAA Tournament 12 times. The most successful season for Iowa State basketball took place in 1999-2000, when the Cyclones finished 32-5, won the Big 12, and reached the Elite Eight as a No. 2 seed. They were led by Marcus Fizer, who left for the NBA after that season, and Jamaal Tinsley, who returned to lead the Cyclones to another Big 12 championship in 2000-01. They received another No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but were upset by No. 15 Hampton in the first round. Larry Eustachy, coach from 1998-2003, could not keep up the success of those two seasons, and was fired after 2003 after a scandal erupted following a loss to Missouri in Columbia. Incriminating photographs of Eustachy holding a beer and kissing young women at a party near Mizzou’s campus surfaced, eventually leading to his firing.

This year’s edition of the Cyclone basketball team is something like an Island of Misfit Toys, with four transfer players who sat out last year now in the lineup. Senior guard Chris Allen (transfer from Michigan State) junior guard Chris Babb (Penn State) junior forward Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois) and sophomore forward Royce White (Minnesota) all became eligible to play this season and have been integral to leading Iowa State to a 12-3 record, including 2-0 in the Big 12. The 6’8” White (12.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG) has lived up to the hype that followed him when he came from Minnesota. Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball in 2009, White committed to Minnesota, but never played a single minute due to several legal problems which led to his departure from the school. Now that he has finally hit the hardwood, he has played exceptionally well, including posting a triple-double in his last game against Texas A&M with 10 points, 18 boards, and 10 assists. Complementing White inside, the Cyclones can also hit from outside, with Allen (12.4 PPG, 35% 3P%), Babb (10.5 PPG, 38.8 3P%), and senior guard Scott Christopherson (10.6 PPG, 38.8 3P%) all able to score from beyond the arc. Junior guard Tyrus McGee also shoots 43.9 percent from three, but averages only 8.9 PPG.

Even though they didn’t look the part in Kansas State, No. 9 Missouri still ranks in the top ten, remains second in the nation in field goal percentage and fourth in scoring. Mizzou looks like a favorite on paper, but this is a talented Iowa State team which has the players to play with the best of the conference. For a team who has struggled on the road in the past and has troubles inside, this will by no means be a cakewalk for the Tigers. They did manage to win their lone Big 12 road game last year in Ames, and have the firepower to beat Iowa State if their shots fall. Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe (13.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG) will have to stay out of foul trouble to contain White and not let the Cyclones dominate in the paint. Mizzou has the guards to win the matchup on the outside, so the key matchup comes in the post. White is the biggest threat for the Tigers, but if his damage can be minimized and Mizzou is able to run the efficient offense seen throughout the non-conference schedule, the Tigers can return to their winning ways.

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