Don’t let the last two seasons fool you, Cyclone fans.
Iowa State’s men’s basketball program will taste success under Coach Greg McDermott, whose tenure to date has been defined by defections and defeats. Many of those were unavoidable.
Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said recently he remains convinced McDermott was the best hire he could have made in replacing Wayne Morgan.
“I firmly believe we have the right person, the person with the right values and the right leadership skills,” Pollard said. “It’ll work out. It may not happen as quickly as the average fan may want it to.”
Media day was Monday. McDermott finally has a full compliment of players. Best of all, they are his kind of players, something the veteran coach hasn’t been able to say with full confidence since he’s been at ISU.
Don’t underestimate the importance of that, Pollard said, and how difficult a task he faced filling a roster once Curtis Stinson, Will Blalock, Farnold Degand, Tasheed Carr, Mike Evanovich and two incoming recruits split town after McDermott got his name on the door.
If that wasn’t tough enough, more than a half-dozen players have left or were dismissed since then.
“The initial attrition was coming regardless of who we hired,” Pollard said. “Because seven kids left right off the bat resulted in other attrition down the road. I don’t anticipate that going forward.
“I view this as Coach McDermott’s first year. I knew what he inherited, the problems we had in the program and the penalities he had to deal with. This is his real first team of kids that they (coaches) had time to recruit through the normal recruiting process.”
You’ve gotta feel for McDermott, a stand-up guy who has a winning formula and doesn’t make excuses.
The facts are these: Mike Taylor was immature and had to go, Corey McIntosh could not compete in the Big 12, Cory Johnson wanted to play and wasn’t going to here, Marcus Brister should never have left the state of Texas.
The hardest to swallow was Wesley Johnson, who abruptly left school last May, claiming a disconnect between he and McDermott. His nagging foot injury last season was a big reason why ISU went 14-18 and won just four Big 12 games.
But no excuses. McDermott is 29-34 at ISU. He can do better. This year’s team is awfully young, but Pollard believes the turnaround will start taking shape this year. His guy will get it done.
“He’s a competitor. I don’t think he’s enjoyed the last two years,” Pollard said. “His pride is probably been challenged because of having two years of stuff he had to deal with that is not the kinds of things you want to be spending your time on when you’re trying to build a program.
“The nucleus is there now for him to finally move forward.”