Friday, March 18, 2005

Worry About 'Heels Later, Let Me Enjoy This One Now

Wait a minute.

Before someone rushes up to holler, "Bring on North Carolina!" let me enjoy this one for another day or so.

I mean, how often does Iowa State beat Minnesota in anything?

Heck, how often does Iowa State even play Minnesota in anything?

So before we start drawing up X's and O's for Sunday's NCAA second-round game between Iowa State and North Carolina in the Charlotte Coliseum, let's sit back and think about how nice it was that the Cyclones brought their "A" Game today and rolled past Minnesota, 64-53, in the first round.

And while we're thinking about that "A" Game, let's thank dairy farmers Dave and RaNae Homan of Remsen that their son Jared has been a Cyclone for four seasons.

The 6-10, 245-pound Homan thoroughly outplayed 7-foot, 270-pound Minnesota stiff Jeff Hagen today.

Homan scored 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, had seven blocks and made two steals while Iowa State dominated a Big 12-Big Ten postseason matchup.

"I think Jared has been one of the premier post guys in the country all year," Cyclone coach Wayne Morgan told announcer John Walters and the Iowa State radio audience on the postgame show.

"The whole country got to see a guy with a big, big future ahead of him."

I've been saying all season that I think Homan will be able to help an NBA team next season.

If that doesn't work out, he'll certainly have a chance to make money somewhere else as a basketball player. He's matured into an outstanding front-liner, and even threw up a few 15-footers today for the benefit of NBA scouts.

But let's ponder Homan's professional career later. He'll have at least one more collegiate game, and I expect him to bring his tool box, his lunch pail and some big-time competitiveness Sunday against North Carolina.

He'll certainly be no surprise to Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, who watched him play in those Iowa State-Kansas games when ol' Roy was toiling for the Jayhawks.

Today's victory improved Iowa State's record to 19-11--a tribute to Morgan, whose team was in serious trouble in the early weeks of the Big 12 season.

The Cyclones lost their first five conference games and appeared headed nowhere. The NIT, where they fared so well last season and which they wanted no part of this season, seemed doubtful after they lost to Colorado at home and couldn't beat anybody on the road for so long.

But with Homan and sophomore guards Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, there was no give-up.

Now, here they are, with the opportunity to pull off one of the all-time big upsets in NCAA tournament history against North Carolina.

Iowa State built a 10-point halftime lead against Minnesota, and never was seriously threatened in the last half.

TV announcers Jim Nance and Billy Packer tried to insert some drama into the game by making a big deal out of Stinson's limp to the bench with 13 1/2 minutes left in the game, but Stinson came back as strong as ever 3 minutes later after having the his ankle taped.

Stinson's field goal gave the Cyclones a 48-41 lead. With Iowa State ahead, 58-53, he again hurt the finger on his left hand that will require surgery after the season.

But that was no problem, either.

Iowa State had more than enough left in the tank to survive another day.

The Cyclones were too quick, too good defensively and outshot Minnesota [44 percent to the Gophers' 33 percent] in the first game against the Gophers since a 36-point victory at Ames a dozen years ago.

By the way, the word is that Iowa State would like to talk Minnesota coach Dan Monson into bringing his team to the new Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines for a game next season.

Good luck.

After seeing what Morgan will have on his team--guys like Stinson, Blalock, Rahshon Clark and others--why would Monson want to help Iowa State pack the house in Des Moines?

Vol. 4, No. 325
March 18, 2005