So, we now have new basketball coach. It has been awhile since we last transitioned to a new staff so we decided to reach out to our SBNation brethren over at Wide Right Natty Lite to get an idea of what we are getting ourselves into.
WRNL covers the Iowa State Cyclones and can probably give us the best information on Fred Hoiberg and his staff. He and two of his assistants left their mark there and the folks from Ames were gracious enough to give us their thoughts.
Joining us today Is Levi Stevenson of the site.
Corn Nation: Give us a background on Fred’s time at Iowa State. What did he do there that turned the Cyclones into a good team?
Levi Stevenson: First and foremost, Fred’s time will always be defined by his success on the transfer market, pulling in scores of All-Big 12 performers like Royce White, Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee, DeAndre Kane, Abdel Nader, and more. He also hit on a a bunch of four year players that provided stability to a program that had a handful of new players every season.
Second, his offensive scheme is elite by every definition of the word. His offenses consistently ranked in or near the top ten of KenPom’s offensive efficiency, and featured a high tempo with lots of off-ball action. Unfortunately, his defenses were basically never good, but with the 2013-2014 team representing his best defense while ranking in the mid-50s in defensive efficiency. Win or lose, games almost always ended up in 70s or 80s.
CN: What were the feelings toward Fred like when he left for the Bulls?
LS: Most people weren’t happy about it, but also understood that Fred always had his eye on the NBA, and that it would just be a matter of time before he left for the pros as long as Iowa State kept winning. However, the idea that Fred Hoiberg, the most Iowa State person that has probably ever lived would leave his alma mater and hometown team did rub some fans the wrong way. His reputation as the Mayor was still intact, even if it did maybe lose just a little sheen.
CN: First thoughts on Fred coming to Nebraska?
LS: The answer to this question varies pretty wildly depending on who you talk to and what part of the state they grew up in. As someone who grew up and lives in eastern Iowa, deep in Hawkeye country, I obviously recognize Nebraska as a rival, but nowhere to the same degree as I do Iowa. It’ll be weird seeing Fred in another school’s colors, but, in the end, my opinion is that Fred is doing what he has to do to get back into coaching, which is clearly his passion.
CN: Do you think he will be a good for for the Cornhuskers? Will he fit in well with our program?
LS: Given that Fred has a ton of family ties in Lincoln, he’ll probably be a pretty good fit. Nebraska having the money and facilities in place to be successful with the right coach will definitely be a plus, but Nebraska is undeniably a football school and always will be. In the end, he has to convince recruits to come to Lincoln and play for a school with basically no basketball tradition. He’s definitely capable of doing that, but it’ll be more difficult than it was at Iowa State, which has basketball tradition and a basketball fan base that is really easy to sell to players.
The thing that will be really interesting to watch will be how active he is in the transfer market. Fred was able to turn Iowa State around quickly because he was able to secure transfers of a bunch of really high-level players without much competition. Now, ironically due in large part to how successful Fred was with it, the transfer market is completely different than when Fred left. Every high-level transfer is highly competitive, and even blue bloods are getting in on taking transfers. Royce White was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school was an undeniably elite player, but his legal troubles shied most schools away at the time. Now, a player of his talent and profile would be courted by every single major program in the country, and Iowa State may not be able to land him like they did in 2011.
Given how competitive the transfer market is, Nebraska probably won’t be able to go this route. This means a longer fix through high school recruits. The most important thing Husker fans can do is be patient. Fred’s a great coach, but getting the team to a point where it can win its first ever NCAA tournament game and be set up for continued success will take time, potentially 2 or 3 years. You can probably expect some immediate improvement, but the real, sustainable improvement will take time.
CN: Do you really hate the fact that Nebraska is adopting his nickname “The Mayor” that was given to him during his playing days with the Cyclones?
LS: It mostly just doesn’t make any sense considering the nickname is derived directly from a specific event in Ames, and isn’t just some generic nickname. It mostly just stems from the fact that seeing Fred associated with any university other than Iowa State is super weird. In the end, Fred owns the trademark for “The Mayor” and he can do with it what he wants, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it.
CN: Miss us in the Big 12?
LS: From a basketball perspective, no. I explained a little bit in this article why the Big 12 is a better basketball conference after realignment. From a football perspective, the main things the conference lost when Nebraska left was the rivalries it had with us OU, Texas, and others, and a big football fan-base. However, when it comes to actual on-field success, the Huskers posted decent records in the years leading up to their move to the Big Ten, but the records were inflated heavily by an extremely weak Big 12 North, and the teams were a far cry from the Nebraska teams of the 80s and 90s. Realignment replaced a few football programs that were historically good, but were in “down stretches” and replaced them with two good football programs in TCU and West Virginia that were successful before joining the Big 12 and continue to be successful in the Big 12. Realignment also granted us a TV deal which initially seemed like the conference settled, but has ended up being extremely beneficial for conference exposure.
All in all, would it be fun to have the old Big 12 back and be able to play some of those old rivalries again? Sure. However, the Big 12 is actually in a really good place right now, and both football and basketball are a ton of fun to watch. Personally, I prefer the new Big 12 over the pre-alignment Big 12.
CN: Finally, how much do you hate Iowa?
LS: Neither me or anyone reading this has enough time in their day to for me to fully explain my distaste for the University of Iowa and its fans both on and off the field.
Among a host of other thing, the arrogance and cognitive dissonance displayed by an alarmingly large portion of the Iowa base on nearly every issue is maddening, especially the “ANF” campaign, which insists that they actually care about farmers, while the university does basically nothing to help them, their coaches essentially call farmers stupid, and they continue to refer to Iowa State as “Moo U” in a derogatory fashion.
Here’s an excerpt of a paragraph from a satire article I wrote in January with a bunch of links which explain exactly what I’m talking about:
”For decades, the University of Iowa has been a world leader in being a better person than you, boasting multiple wildly successful campaigns to raise awareness for America’s need for farmers, which they are relentlessly supportive of, as well as our country’s desperate need for another lawyer.”
Basically, Iowa is one of the most hate-able fan bases in the country, and we’re forced to live next door to them.