There is something to be said about winning in places someone is not supposed to win. Then, there is something about doing so in a matter that might make that place a destination spot. For Iowa State Cyclones coach, Fred Hoiberg, he seems pretty destined to do that for his alma mater. I mean, considering he already has — at least to some extent.
Hoiberg took over the Iowa State gig coming into the 2010 season. After a .500 first year (16-16), the program and Hoiberg have not looked back. The fact that he is basically using a version of glorified Hoiberg-Ball makes it even better.
For those who are not old, knowledgeable or awesome enough, Hoiberg was once a three-point assassin. Or, at the very least, a player who really enjoyed hurling attempts at the rim from beyond the three-point line. In college Hoiberg attempted 457 threes in four years, while in the NBA he regularly shot in the 40 percent range from deep, actually leading the NBA in three-point percentage in the 2004-05 season (.483 percent). So yeah, chucking it was Hoiberg’s specialty.
That is who Hoiberg was as a player. So I suppose it should come as a very little surprise that he coaches his team to like the deep ball. What he also adds to his offensive scheme — something he might have lacked a bit as a player — is utilizing his players’ athleticism and letting them go up and down the court without repercussions. Using such an up-tempo style of system that top-recruits across the nation can’t help but start noticing how much fun it would be to play for the Iowa State Hoibergs.
I am not kidding about the Iowa State Hoibergs either. This program is going to go as Hoiberg goes — or if he stays, really. This past April the program inked him to a 10-year, $20 million extension. Which is a really big deal if you are a fan of Iowa State. There were not many names much hotter than Hoiberg’s to fill vacancies as last season was winding down. Now, after a 13-0 start to this year, his name will likely be brought up more than once. However, thankfully if you are a fan of the Hoiberg/Cyclones pairing, with many of the “big” programs recently already having just filled a vacancy or are currently happy with their incumbent coach, there is no reason to think he would jump ship at this point. That is all, obviously, without any debate about Hoiberg’s possible NBA coaching aspirations.
Let’s not kid ourselves either. With certain gigs getting filled last year and not a bunch of high-profile ones looking to be open at the end of this year, Iowa State might keep Hoiberg because he is making the program a legitimate, viable destination for players who want to excel, play at a big-time conference and have aspirations to go to the NBA. It is as if the two of them are growing as collegiate powers together.
Say what you want about convincing kids to go play for Iowa State, but Hoiberg’s style of offense will no doubt lure some of the big names away from their Big 12 brethren.
It also doesn’t hurt, however, that Hoiberg has the ability to turn an average, ho-humish type of player into a really good, role guy. Not that he is turning bums into superstars, but not that many coaches at the collegiate level are at good at identifying a player’s talent and then putting that player in a position to amplify it to the highest level — making the team and the player have the most success that either can possibly have.
I have been on the Hoiberg bandwagon since day one — or as the cool kids say, Hoiberg 0 PD (Pre Domination). It is currently Hoiberg 04 PD with the Cyclones on-pace to make their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The biggest difference between the previous two runs and this one, though, is the fact that Iowa State appears to be major players well before March even begins and not just some nice story leading up to the Big Dance.
The road to national HoibergMania is a tough one, however. Tonight (January 7th), Fred Hoiberg and the boys are hosting the 12-1 Baylor Bears. After that it is more ranked teams, higher profile teams and games against teams with supposedly better talent, “coaching” and prestige. All of which might be true for right now. Yet, it might only be for just right now.
A perfect storm is at play in Ames, Iowa. One of their own is seen as the mayor of the city, he also happens to use a great, enticing to recruits offensive scheme and there are no “great” jobs on the horizon. Really, there is nothing in the way of Iowa State success in the long-term sans a major program tossing a bazillion dollars towards the general direction of Hoiberg. Even then, though, there is nothing that says Hoiberg isn’t more than happy coaching his alma mater and wouldn’t end up turning it down.
Still, it almost seems inevitable that Hoiberg will make Iowa State into what Jim Calhoun made UConn — a destination spot for top players, even though the destination itself doesn’t seem to be all that appealing. Well, except for, you know, the head coach.