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Barking Carnival Talks to WRNL

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The Texas Longhorns face off with the Iowa State Cyclones Tuesday evening in an important game for both squads, so I decided to have a Q&A with Wide Right Natty Lite editor Austin Narber.

1) The Iowa State Cyclones were - along with the Oklahoma Sooners - expected to be the two teams to compete in the annual Sisyphean task of ending Kansas' conference title streak. It's still early, but with your stumbles against Baylor & OU it seems as though the Cyclones may not be up to the task. Were expectations too high for Iowa State this season, or do you think they will mount a comeback?

It's tough for me to count them out so gosh darn early in conference play. For every fan having a panic attack over a 1-2 start, I've seen an equal amount reminding everyone that Iowa State had the same win/loss results in these three match-ups last season... and they were still in firmly in play for a conference title in mid-February. The thing is, when you lose a game you weren't supposed to, you have to then win game a game you're not supposed to. I don't think mounting a comeback is as far-fetched as people think it is. Drop one at home to Baylor? Go win one in Lawrence or Morgantown (the latter obviously being more feasible than the former). And the Big 12 is fucking weird, man. We've seen Oklahoma struggle with Hawaii, we've seen Kansas put up 211 points in back-to-back games and then poop out a 69 in Lubbock. Things just happen. But were expectations too high for the Cyclones? Hell no. They know who they are. They know what they're capable of. Do I think they can right the ship? Absolutely.

2) I find it hard to judge Steve Prohm's coaching performance this season due to the talent he inherited from Mayor McDreamy. That's not meant as a knock on him so much as me saying I don't know if he's successfully installed his system and made this program his own or if this is a "Barry Switzer's 1st year with the Cowboys" situation where as long as he can fog a mirror he's probably going to have a reasonable level of success this year. How would you rate Prohm's job this season, and how do you feel about the program beyond this year?

Steve Prohm is going about this thing so perfectly. Everything that made the Cyclones successful under Fred Hoiberg (the X's and O's, we'll say), Prohm is recycling that, with a few wrinkles of his own here and there. Nothing drastic. And everything that hurt the Cyclones under Hoiberg (perhaps not being as vocal or discipline-oriented or hands-on, we'll say), Prohm is trying to install. That being said, it's really hard for me to get a feel for his job performance 15 games in, let alone the future of the program. He's recruiting like a motherfucker, and honestly, I think we'll see less of Hoiberg's fingerprint on the team once this current roster hits the bricks (God, that sucks to think about). It's going to be a brand new look next season and beyond, but I think he's doing the right thing by not fixing what wasn't broken the last four years or so. At the very least, I think the guys like him and buy whatever he's selling, but I'm not sure he'll ever have enough pull with these seniors to fix any chemistry or performance issues that may crop up. How this team rebounds and responds to adversity, in my opinion, is going to have absolutely nothing to do with Prohm. It's going to be on the guys.

3) Texas is starting to utilize various presses more as the season has gone on, and with Cameron Ridley's injury the team seems to be going even smaller & faster as a result. How much has Iowa State faced pressing teams this year, and how well or poorly have they handled it?

You should've seen Chicago State confuse the absolute daylights out of this team with the press for a while earlier this season. But seriously, we haven't seen a ton of it, and I'm not sure it worries me much. Iowa State is 5-1 against "Press Virginia," so we know they can adjust to it. This comes from having tremendous ball-handlers and floor generals like Monte Morris, Abdel Nader and honestly even George Niang. Texas is going to get their steals and transition buckets and force some frustrating timeouts I'm sure, because that's just how it works, but I'm not overly concerned.

4) Would anybody at WRNL be averse to giving Prince Ibeh 7 fouls for this game? Otherwise, I'm pretty sure he's going to foul out in less than 10 minutes of action against Jameel McKay.

I'm sorry, we're not sure what these "fouls" are that you speak of.

5) I don't think it's going out on a limb to say that Iowa State is the favorite despite being on the road, so I imagine you're going to predict a win for the Cyclones. Let's take a different tact: under what situations do you see Iowa State getting upset by Texas Tuesday?

Well, you at least have to let me go on record and say Cyclones by 2. But there are plenty of situations that could get these guys run out of the building. Texas is in something like the 90th percentile in interior defense, and I'm sure that will take a hit with Ridley out. But if they can find a way to completely neutralize Niang like Baylor did and do a decent job manning up on Jameel McKay, I'm not sure Iowa State necessarily has a discernible back-court advantage here to make up for it. That 1-2-3 punch with Taylor, Felix and Davis is outstanding. I also know that Shaka Smart will go 9-10 deep if he has to. Fresh legs, particularly with the speed the Longhorns have, could be lethal for us. Also, you guys have lost three of four and are probably, you know, mad. That could be bad.