Archive for July, 2009

Cyclones’ Big 12 men’s hoops schedule set

July 24, 2009

Iowa State will open its Big 12 Conference men’s basketball season next season against the Texas Longhorns and are scheduled for three nationally-televised games .

The full league schedule — with television assignments — was released on Thursday.

Both of the Cyclones’ games with likely league favorite Kansas and a Feb. 6 home game with Kansas State have been slated for the ESPN family of networks. None are the coveted “Big Monday” games that have the prime 8 p.m. tip time and the college basketball world’s attention.

ISU’s road trips include each of the five North Division teams, Texas Tech (Jan. 20), Oklahoma (Jan. 27) and Baylor (Feb. 3).

Oklahoma State (Feb. 17) and Texas A&M (Feb. 20) come to Hilton Coliseum for back-to-back games.  The Cyclones finish the regular season March 6 at Kansas State.

They should be well-tested by the start of Big 12 play coming off a non-conference schedule that includes Duke, Bradley, Houston, California, UNI, Iowa, Drake, Saint Louis and either Notre Dame or Northwestern.

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New Cyclone hoops home getting close to done

July 17, 2009

Iowa State’s $8 million basketball practice facility is nearly complete.

Or at least it looks that way from the outside. Workers this week were putting some finishing touches on the exterior of the building, located well off campus in west Ames at the intersection of Mortensen Road and South Dakota Avenue.

There still is plenty of work to be done inside: electrical, painting, decorating, etc.

The facility will have separate gymnasiums for the men’s and women’s teams, locker rooms, player lounges, a film room, coaches’ offices and a sports medicine/training room area.

“It is going to make the experience for our student-athletes so much better,” Cyclone men’s coach Greg McDermott said. “It’s going to have everything we need.”

The basketball and volleyball teams in the past have shared time at Hilton Coliseum and on-campus buildings State Gym and the Forker Building.

No longer.

The land for the new facility was donated by local developer and Cyclone booster Dickson Jensen. Original plans to build next door to Hilton Coliseum were scrapped when Jensen offered up the location, which made far more sense financially for the athletic department, which is footing the entire bill.

Every team in the Big 12 Conference’s South Division, plus Kansas and Missouri has basketball-only practice facilities. Nebraska, Kansas State and Colorado either do not or are in the midst of fund-raising or constructing one.

ISU’s new building will help recruiting efforts and give current players a 24-hour-a-day venue to work on their games.

“It will enhance their ability to be as good a basketball player as they can be,” McDermott said. “In the past we’d go one place to get a sore ankle treated, another to lift weights and another place to shoot free throws. All of sudden, that can be done under the same roof.

“I’m sure they will take full advantage of using it, probably on a daily basis.”

September was the target time for its opening.  It’s looking like it could be sooner.

The men’s program currently is sharing space inside offices at Hilton Coliseum with the volleyball program, which will be the new tenant of the building.

There will be general “gameday” space for both basketball coaching staffs to use on days of home games. That area is what the women’s program currently is using.

Stinson hoping luck on his side in Vegas

July 9, 2009

AMES — Curtis Stinson’s best chance to make his NBA dream come true is upon him.

The former Iowa State star leaves for Las Vegas Thursday as one of 10 players on the D-League’s select team in the NBA’s annual Summer League. Since leaving ISU in 2006 after his junior season, Stinson has played in Croatia, Greece and with a handful of NBADL teams, spending all of last season with the Iowa Energy.

The 6-3 guard averaged 16.1 points and 8.4 assists last year, numbers he hopes have put him on NBA teams’ radar.               

“I’m confident,” Stinson said. “I feel like this was the best season I’ve had since I left Iowa State. I’m making progress and going in the right direction. All I want is an opportunity, a chance.”

At 26 years old, the miles on his body are adding up.    

Stinson has done the Summer League thing before – with Golden State, New Jersey and the L.A. Clippers – but hasn’t gotten to stay with the big club.

One word describes how his game has evolved since his days inside Hilton Coliseum: maturity. The Energy reached the playoffs and had one of the NBADL’s best won-loss records.            

“When you get to this level you have to understand the game a lot better. You have to be smart,” Stinson said. “Me as a point guard, I have to be smart. If I’m not, my team won’t win. That’s what happened this year. (Energy) Coach (Nick) Nurse gave me the opportunity to run the team and put the ball in my hands.”

The knock on Stinson has long been his outside shooting.

He shot 21.5 percent (17 of 79) on 3-pointers last season and was an average shooter from deep with the Cyclones. He’s going to have to make up for it in other areas and continue trying to improve his shot.

Starting Monday – when games begin for real – is when Stinson will have to be at his best in front of scouts and general manager-types.

“I’m just going to play. That’s all I can do,” he said.  “You never know who is there watching. You have to show up at the right time.”

Stinson is living in Ames this summer, working out and spending time with his 2-year-old son, Curtis, Jr.

He spends as much time as possible with Curt Jr. during the summer. Playing in Des Moines allows the two to keep close much of the season, despite the long hours traveling, practicing and playing.

Stinson hasn’t ruled out a return overseas, but balancing career and family is difficult in his profession.

“I’ve got to put food on the table for my son and take care of him,” Stinson said. “I love playing this game. Financially it can take care of you for the rest of your life if you get in the right situation.”

“I want to be a father that is going to take care of him. It’s a good feeling. Everybody who has a child knows.  I love him to death. My son is priority No. 1. I want to be close to him and be around as much as possible.”

Stinson is one of five former Cyclones playing in NBA summer leagues in Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas.

Jared Homan (Pacers), Will Blalock (Pacers), Jiri Hubalek (Suns) and Mike Taylor (Clippers) are the others. Stinson is hoping to open some eyes over the next two weeks.

“Teams got to see me during the season,” he said, “now they’ll get to see me play against the guys they draft and the guys who really play. It’s a good situation.”

Competition already hot for Cyclone guards

July 7, 2009

You won’t see Dominique Buckley – or any other Iowa State guard – wasting away their summer by the pool or on the couch playing video games.

Too much is at stake.  If he wants to see the court next season, Buckley needs to take advantage of every waking moment.

“It’s a whole new atmosphere from last year to this year,” said Buckley, who played in 25 games last season as a freshman, averaging 1.3 points and 0.8 assists. “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody wants to sit on the bench. We all want to play and we all want to win games.”

The Cyclones finally have some depth in the backcourt with two-year starter Diante Garrett, starting shooting guard Lucca Staiger, junior Charles Boozer, Buckley, Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson and touted freshman Chris Colvin.

Competition for playing time will be fierce, and already is this summer during workouts, pickup ball and Capital City League games.

“We are in a position as a coaching staff where we have some choices to make,” said Coach Greg McDermott. “Who ends up separating themselves from that group is going to be up to them.”

Buckley has spent all but one week this spring and summer on campus.

The Detroit native has been taking summer classes and improving his skills. Jumping rope, defensive slides, balance, running, shooting, ball-handling – he’s done it all in working on his overall game.

“I really don’t have anything else to do except sleep, eat and go to class I might as well work on it when I can,” Buckley said. “Summer is a time to get better.”

The 6-2, 205-pound sophomore had a slow start to his first season, then earned his way into the rotation by season’s end.

Buckley has played well since season’s end and clearly is improved.

“I’ve been very pleased with his development,” McDermott said.

Garrett has focused his offseason work in the weight room. He came to ISU as a 160-pound freshman and now is just under 185. His goal is to tip the scales at over 190 pounds.

The point guard is at his best getting into the lane and creating offense for himself and others off the dribble.

“I’ve been in the weight room all summer. I’m getting a lot stronger,” Garrett said. “I think that will help out even more than getting in the gym and getting 1,000 jumps shots up a day.”

Staiger returns as the Cyclones’ leader in 3-pointers made last year.

Boozer provides an energy boost off the bench with his defense and hustle.    

Christopherson looks to be a well-rounded player with toughness and scoring ability.

Colvin is a talented prospect with good all-around skills that could work at either guard spot.  

This will be McDermott’s deepest ISU team yet, which means playing time will be well-deserved – at every position.

“Everyone wants to play. Unfortunately there are only five guys that step on the court,” Colvin said.

Colvin expecting big things for freshman season

July 2, 2009

Chris Colvin isn’t shy about sharing his great expectations for his first season at Iowa State, which has the look of its best of the Greg McDermott era.

“I’m trying to win some of these games, that way we can make it to the (NCAA) tournament or even try and win the Big 12. Those are my goals,” said Colvin, who has some expectations of his own to live up to as a top-100 recruit nationally.

Colvin helped win an Illinois state championship for Whitney Young H.S., one of the nation’s most prominent programs.

The Chicago native averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 assists as a senior. He figures to play a good amount in what will be a crowded backcourt with two-year starter Diante Garrett back, along with returners Lucca Staiger, Dominique Buckley, Charles Boozer and Scott Christopherson, the Marquette transfer who sat out last season.        

“As a freshman I’m coming in trying to have an impact on our team and an impact on our league,” Colvin said. “Everyone wants to play. Unfortunately there are only five guys that step on the court.”

The 6-2, 195-pounder is an upgrade athletically. Could he even crack the starting lineup?

“It’s a goal for me but I’m not too worried about it,” Colvin said. “I think I can start in the Big 12.”

McDermott has waited three years for a collection of incoming players like he now has in Colvin Marquis Gilstrap, LaRon Dendy and Antwon Oliver.

Add that to what ISU has returning and Colvin may be right on with how successful his new team will be.           

“Craig (Brackins) coming back, that was a big piece to the puzzle,” he said. “Adding Marquis, me and LaRon and Antwon… that should help us get over the top this year, along with the guys that we already have got.

“I know we are going to have a great season this year. Hopefully we can go do something big.”