AMES — The Iowa State men’s basketball team is generating the shots it wants on offense, and the shots that have made the Cyclones successful in recent years.
The problem is, they aren’t making them.
The Cyclones have attempted the second most 3-point shots in the Big 12 (450) but have the third worst percentage (31 percent).
In Saturday’s 72-52 loss to Texas Tech, Iowa State was just 3 of 22. Coach Steve Prohm said 15 of those 22 attempts were good shots.
On Tuesday, Iowa State (8-9, 1-4 Big 12) hosts Oklahoma State (9-8, 0-5) — the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big 12 (29 percent) — at Hilton Coliseum at 7 p.m.
Prohm doesn’t want his guys to lose confidence but he also knows something has to change. Iowa State is 17 games into the season and has had just two good shooting games.
“When you get an open wing or corner 3 now, hopefully you can get them on a bad close-out, shot fake and drive it on the backside or throw it inside while the defense is rotating,” Prohm said. “Let’s let them get a bad close-out and not shoot the early 3. It’s easier said than done.”
Point guard Tyrese Haliburton is the only Cyclone who can shoot the ball reliably from deep. He’s shooting 39 percent from 3-point range. The next closest Cyclones with at least 30 3-point attempts are Michael Jacobson and Zion Griffin at 33 percent.
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Guards Rasir Bolton and Prentiss Nixon are both well below their career averages. Bolton is at 30 percent — he was a 35-percent long-ranger shooter at Penn State — and Nixon, who shot 33 percent at Colorado State, is at 23 percent. But it’s hard to expect those numbers to change too drastically at this point in the season.
“I hate taking away guys’ confidence and telling them not to shoot wide-open shots at this level, but we have to make an emphasis of driving it when we can and throw it inside when we can,” Prohm said.
Not making shots they feel they should make has put the players in a precarious situation.
“(Poor shooting) makes it really hard to win games,” Jacobson said. “We have to find ways to keep ourselves in it. We have to have confidence but we can’t expect the shots to go in. We have to find other ways to keep ourselves in games. Holding teams to 50-to-60 points is what it looks like we’re going to have to do.
“We have guys who can shoot and shoot all the time and for whatever reason, it’s not going in the basket during games. We just have to stay confident and find other ways to compete.”
Hammering the paint, statistically, seems like the right way to go. George Conditt is Iowa State’s third leading scorer at 9.3 points per game and he also leads Iowa State in field goal percentage at 63 percent. Solomon Young has the second highest field goal percentage at 55 percent.
Bolton is good at getting down hill and scoring in the paint — he’s shooting 50 percent on shots inside the arc.
“I have to keep giving these guys confidence,” Prohm said. “You’re supposed to play hard — that shouldn’t be a sign of anything special. Kids should play hard. But when kids are playing with great confidence, that’s fun. That’s how you want them playing.
“I have to figure out a way to have them play with great confidence and understand what we’re looking for. Throw it to George, Solomon or Mike down low on the ball reversal and play inside out.”
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The 3-point attempt won’t disappear from Iowa State’s arsenal, but Prohm wants to limit 3s early in the shot clock because while that’s been a good shot for Iowa State in the past, all it seems to do now is kill a possession in less than 10 seconds.
“Maybe at 12 seconds or eight seconds left on the shot clock, it’s a good shot for them but not at 20 seconds it’s not, because we haven’t made those,” Prohm said.
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