Eustachy's recruiting strategy at Iowa State began with a map, a piece of string scaled to equal 500 miles on the map and a pin stuck in Ames. Then the Cyclones staff phoned countless high school coaches inside the 500-mile radius and asked about any kid in town who could walk and chew gum at the same time. Twelve of the 16 current Cyclones come from within that circle. Eustachy knows that to recruit players, especially those from beyond the Midwest, to Ames, which sits hard by the South Skunk River and in winter is surrounded by frozen cornfields, a coach must be, as he describes it, "creative." Consider how Tinsley ended up at Iowa State. He grew up a Brooklyn truant, never played high school ball, and attended Mount San Jacinto Community College in San Jacinto, Calif. Sampling Ames on a recruiting visit on Feb. 8, 1999, Tinsley watched the Cyclones' backcourt get humiliated by Missouri in a 77-61 defeat. "You need guards so bad," Tinsley told Eustachy. "I'm coming here."
When Tinsley arrived at Iowa State in the fall of 1999 he despised Eustachy's arduous preseason boot camp. Tinsley was often dismissed from practice, literally packed his bags several times and spent so much time on Eustachy's office couch for psychoanalysis that the coach thought about getting Tinsley his own pillow. But it was Tinsley's street-smart leadership that helped transform forward Marcus Fizer into an All-America last season, and that dynamic duo carried the Cyclones within one win of the Final Four.
When Fizer left a year early for the NBA, Iowa State became Tinsley's team. Tinsley channeled Larry all summer, and as a result five Cyclones are scoring in double figures. Through Sunday, Tinsley was 54-8 as a starter and Iowa State had a 34-game home winning streak that started the game after his recruiting visit. Larry must have also possessed Sullivan last Saturday night as he scored a career-high 22 points and was seen practicing his shot alone inside Hilton Coliseum seven hours after the game. "People thought we'd stink this year after we lost Fizer, but we're relentless," Sullivan says. "Wouldn't it be great if us no-names finished even better than last year's team?"
Only 1,150 miles of road trips, including the Big 12 tournament, remain for Eustachy. Beyond that, there are no fixed destinations until the Final Four in Minneapolis, a mere 211 miles up I-35. That wouldn't be much more than a three-hour drive, hardly enough time to get settled into LarryWorld.