I had a nightmare: Fred Hoiberg abandoned Iowa State to become head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
It had to be a dream. What are the odds Iowa State’s most beloved son, a legend, nicknamed The Mayor of Ames (seat of the Cyclones) would duplicate Tim Floyd’s abandonment?
Certainly, Hoiberg would remember that Floyd’s arrival in Chicago coincided with Michael Jordan’s second retirement and the end of Phil Jackson’s tenure in Chicago. Floyd resigned from the Bulls midway through his fourth season in Chicago with a record of 49-190. Floyd gave it another go in the NBA with New Orleans (2003-2004); the Hornets fired him after losing in the first round of the playoffs. Looking back at an NBA career record of 93-235, Floyd once remarked, “I wasn’t very good at it.”
Floyd was 81-49 as a Cyclone. Other than Hoiberg (0.671), Floyd (0.633) is Iowa State’s winningest coach.
Hoiberg would never forsake his hometown to chase a dream without a precedent of success. Several NCAA coaches–other than Floyd–have tried the NBA switch, but none made deep playoff runs.
Then, the dream got worse: Injuries to star players crippled the Bulls’ roster and the team’s leader made negative comments in the media about Holberg’s coaching–or lack thereof.
There was a bright side to Holberg’s departure from Ames, though. He left a strong roster and a team predicted to make the 2016 Final Four. AP ranked Iowa State high in the preseason:
If you’re not #1, everything’s relative. Kansas was ranked higher–as usual–but the Cyclones were still ahead of Oklahoma, so the season looked encouraging.
After a few heady weeks beating up on weak teams and narrowly escaping intrastate rival, Iowa; the Cyclones rose to #4:
Kansas was still looming near the top though.
Then, the dream turned nightmare. The Cyclones lost to Northern Iowa… In front of a home crowd… At Hilton Coliseum… Hilton Magic? Iowa State dropped out of the top ten while Kansas and Oklahoma held positions in the top four:
I wish I could say the nightmare ended on a high note, but Iowa State’s loses started to accumulate: Oklahoma came from behind to beat the Cyclones in Norman; then, Iowa State lost to Baylor, at Hilton. Iowa edged over Iowa State in the AP Poll:
Fortunately, I started to wake up when the Cyclones dropped another road game to Texas, and Kansas and Oklahoma became #1 and #2:
I didn’t go back to sleep. I was afraid the nightmare would resume. What could have been next? Maybe the Hawkeyes would crack the top ten as Iowa State dropped out of the top 25? Perhaps the Cyclones might finish in the bottom half of the Big 12, and then lose during the first round of the NIT?
Oklahoma comes to Ames on Monday, January 18; the same day AP updates their NCAA rankings…
If you liked this post, give Cy-eye the Hawk-clone a try.