Archive for November, 2009

Dendy probable for StL game; no TV for Brackins-Harangody

November 26, 2009

Forward LaRon Dendy is probable for this weekend’s Chicago Invitational games against Saint Louis and either Notre Dame/Northwestern.

Dendy has missed Iowa State’s last four games with a right knee sprain.

He was in uniform Tuesday for the Cyclones’ 84-53 win over Tennessee State but did not play. Trainer Vic Miller said Dendy planned to resume practice Wednesday with the hope of being available for tonight’s 5 p.m. game with the Billikens.

“I think it is looking pretty good. He’s doing well and feels good,” Miller said.

Dendy scored 16 points and had seven rebounds in ISU’s season-opening win over Idaho State. The 6-9, 230-pound junior was injured in practice the following day.

He’ll need a little time to get back into game shape.

“He’s been out for almost two straight weeks,” Miller said. “We have to try and get him moving and get him in the flow.”

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Unless Iowa State plays Northwestern – which is only likely to happen if ISU loses Friday to Saint Louis, considering the hometown ‘Cats face No. 23 Notre Dame in the other half of the four-team tournament – there will be no television coverage of its games this weekend.

The Big Ten Network is planning on televising Northwestern’s games.

Unfortunately, one of the year’s best individual match-ups between Cyclone big man Craig Brackins and Notre Dame All-America forward Luke Harangody will fly way under the radar nationally.

It’s kind of a shame.

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More from the Big 12’s leading tackler…

November 20, 2009

Most college students couldn’t fathom taking marriage vows at this point in their lives.

Iowa State linebacker Jesse Smith isn’t one of them. He’s already done it.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. “Play football, come home and see my wife, do the family thing. It’s great.”

Smith, who leads the Big 12 Conference with 117 tackles, met his future wife, McKenzie, when they two lived in the dorms.  Apparently, she’s a football-loving spouse who doesn’t mind hangin’ with her husband’s teammates.

“She’s one of the guys,” Smith said.

Their professional lives also are compatible.

She is a special education teacher in Adel. He will graduate in May with a degree in health and human performance and ideally will get a job as a physical education teacher and coach football and wrestling.

“That’s what I see myself doing. We are going to make a lot of money,” Smith joked.

Read more about his football exploits this season in Friday’s Gazette. Follow the links to E-edition: www.gazetteonline.com

Rhoads tops list of biggest turnarounds

November 16, 2009

Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads is at the head of the class for first-year coaches, leading the nation in won/lost improvement this year. Here’s the short list, courtesy of ISU’s athletic media relations department:

Coach             School          2009    2008       Win +/-             
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State 6-5     2-10    +4
Steve Sarkisian, Washington     3-7     0-12    +3
Gene Chizik, Auburn     7-4     5-7     +2
Brady Hoke, San Diego State     4-6     2-10    +2
Dae Christensen, Wyoming        5-5     4-8     +1
Rich Ellerson, Army     4-6     3-9     +1
Bill Snyder, Kansas State       6-5     5-7     +1
Tim Beckman, Toledo     4-6     3-9     +1

ISU plays at Missouri Saturday afternoon for a chance to finish the regular season 7-5. The Cyclones already are bowl eligible for the first time since 2005.

Two games in, Cyclone men showing big promise

November 16, 2009

There’s a lot to be excited about if you’ve seen or read about the start to Iowa State’s men’s basketball team.

Coach Greg McDermott is onto something here.  He’s finally got an abundance of talent and is figuring out how best to deploy it. This group still is very much a work in progress, but you can see there is athleticism, skill and depth to build on.

Decisive wins over Idaho State (88-68) and Chicago State (72-50) — while not unexpected — showed some of what this team has to offer.

The numbers are already taking shape:

— 80 points per game

— Field goal percentage of 48.3

— 3-point field goal percentage of 51.6 (16 of 31)

— Eleven players averaging 9 minutes a game or more

All-Big 12 Conference forward Craig Brackins is averaging 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, well below his averages from a season ago.  He’s cool with that.

“As long as we win I don’t care,” Brackins said.

Transfer Marquis Gilstrap shrugged off a bad start Sunday night against Chicago State to finish with 11 points and 15 rebounds, six on the offensive end.

Another first-year player, LaRon Dendy, had 16 points and 7 rebounds in his Cyclone debut agianst Idaho State, then injured his knee in practice the following day and will sit out the next two weeks.

Point guard Diante Garrett has 12 assists and just two turnovers so far. Against Idaho State Garrett had seven assists, no points and no turnovers. McDermott was thrilled.

“If that’s not a sign of that progress he’s made in two years of how to run a team and how to play the point guard position… he’s really grown as a point guard,” he said.

What’s very encouraging going into Tuesday night’s game at Drake is the scoring efficiency of ISU’s reserves.

Dendy, Scott Christopherson, Charles Boozer and Jamie Vanderbeken are a combined 23 of 32 (71.9 percent)from the field. Nine of their 12 shots from 3-point distance have been good.

Cyclones shrug off Barnes decision with season-opening win

November 14, 2009

AMES – There was no Harrison hangover Friday night at Hilton Coliseum.

Hours after Harrison Barnes, the nation’s top-ranked recruit chose North Carolina over his hometown team, Iowa State opened its season with an impressive 88-68 victory over Idaho State at Hilton Coliseum.

Cyclone players and coaches were hoping for two victories on this day. They had to settle for one.

Barnes, who often times sits courtside for ISU games, was not in the building Friday. The impact of his decision was felt across the college basketball world, no more so than right here.

“It probably impacted me more than it did (the players),” Coach Greg McDermott said afterwards. “Harrison was just one of the guys to them. He’s been around our gym for three years and we invested a lot in it. He decided this wasn’t the place, and that’s OK.

“Are we disappointed? Yes. I wish him all the best, but my focus has to the guys that are on my team and want to be on my team. He chose not to be.”

The group of players McDermott has looked awfully good, as ISU shot 54.7 percent and came four points short of scoring the most points during the coach’s previous three seasons.  

Athleticism and depth that has been lacking was on display in front of an announced crowd of 13,727.

Newcomers Marquis Gilstrap and LaRon Dendy threw down monster dunks and ran the floor.

Freshman guard Chris Colvin showed off his passing and dribbling skills and Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson proved his toughness and shooting touch in his Cyclone debut.      

“You wouldn’t even think they were new,” said forward Craig Brackins, who led ISU with 17 points on 7 of 13 shooting. “They came in with a lot of energy. They were into it the whole game.”

Dendy sparked a decisive 21-8 run to close the first half.

The junior college transfer had eight points in the spurt and finished with 16 to go with seven rebounds. Dendy, who is 6-9, 230 pounds, was active around the basket in on the break.  

“He impacts the game with his energy and he can really run the floor,” McDermott said. “He ran by the pack a couple of times in transition. Those are the plays we need him to make.”

This is a team that will play at a much faster pace that McDermott teams ever have.

The Cyclones (1-0) can go 11 players deep on the bench and have the type of athletes to fit that style.

“Get out and run – I love it,” Dendy said. “With me, Craig and Marquis and all the other guys running… we are all athletes.”

Gilstrap finished with 13 points and six rebounds.

Christopherson scored 10 points and made good on both of his 3-point attempts.

Postscript on Harrison Barnes

November 14, 2009

Some Iowa State folks are responding to Harrison Barnes’ decision to attend North Carolina in favor of the hometown Cyclones:

Here’s from women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly via Twitter: TRUE CYCLONE fans need to give OUR team a great response tonite– WORRY about the ones we have who ARE Cyclones!!!!

This was Craig Brackins’ take: The mystery is over…congrats 2 HB on his choice! He is guna be a beast! Now its time 2 focus on the goal…LET’S GO STATE!!!

It doesn’t matter if Clones were second or sixth, at least it shouldn’t.

Bottom line, he’s not walking through that door and ISU fans have to live with it and move on.

In case you didn’t see his announcement live on ESPNU or any number of television or Internet mediums, this is how Barnes summed up each of the five schools he didn’t choose:

Oklahoma: “I really enjoyed my relationship with Coach (Jeff) Capel. He has transformed Oklahoma’s basketball program into a championship contender.”

Kansas: “Coach (Bill) Self has always had my respect for his style of play. His personal approach and demeanor are second to none.”

Duke: “Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski and I have become very close over the last year-and-a-half. Duke has high academics and is just unique in a variety of ways.”

on UCLA: “They have an unbelievable market of core players as well as one of the richest traditions in college basketball. Coach (Ben) Howland’s pursuit of excellence is only matched by Coach Wooden.”

on Iowa State: “I want to extend a special thank you to you, Coach (Greg) McDermott, and your coaching staff, for recruiting me the last tw0-and-a-half years. I am and forever will be a Cyclone fan.”

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Barnes was asked if has designs on jumping to the NBA early, like many believe he could and will.

UNC’s highly-ranked business school factored big in Barnes’ decision, along with a program that’s won two national championships in the last five years.

“I will graduate in three years because I want to be on the fast track academically. If the opportunity to go pro arises I will take that as it comes,” Barnes said.

Cyclone women’s hoops bits

November 12, 2009

Iowa State will play a home-and-home series with Michigan starting next season as part of the newly-created Big 12/Big Ten Challenge announced Wednesday.

ISU will host the 2010 game and go to Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2011. Games will be played on either Dec. 4-5.

Wisconsin will play Challenge games against Kansas and Oklahoma State during the initial two-year agreement to make up for the difference in the number of teams in each league.  

This will be a nice boost for the Cyclones’ strength of schedule. They play the state schools Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa every year, and usually one or two more NCAA Tournament-worthy teams.

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Three players signed letters of intent with ISU on Wednesday, including the state’s most sought-after player, Exira forward Hallie Christofferson.

Christofferson was apparently down to Iowa State and Iowa. She picked Coach Bill Fennelly’s team, which is loading up on young talent. Christofferson earned all-state honors in each of her first three years and has career averages of 21.4 points and 12.7 rebounds.

Also signing Wednesday was Kelsey Harris, a sharpshooting 5-10 guard from Brea, Calif., and Midland (Texas) College point guard Lauren Mansfield.

The 5-7 Mansfield helped lead Midland to a 30-2 record last season and will fill an immediate void at point guard when Alison Lacey is out of eligibility. Coincidentally, like Lacey, Mansfield hails from Australia.  

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Fennelly sent out a message Wednesday night on his Twitter account saying just seven players were available for practice. Has the flu bug hit his team? Perhaps.

The Cyclones open the regular season at 1 p.m. Sunday against Florida Atlantic. We’ll see how many suit up then.

Ejim signed, getting closer to Barnes’ decision

November 11, 2009

Greg McDermott isn’t sure exactly how many scholarships he’ll have for next year’s class.

He filled one Wednesday with the addition of forward/guard Melvin Ejim, who plays at Brewster (N.H.) Academy. That takes care of the roster spot that’ll be vacated by senior forward Jamie Vanderbeken.

After that, there’s some uncertainty.

“Nobody knows for sure what Craig (Brackins) is going to do,” McDermott said Wednesday before practice, “and we are going to attempt to get Marquis (Gilstrap) another year, and we won’t know on that for quite some time.

“There’s a chance we could sign one more in this early period.”

McDermott cannot say specifically who that may be, but there’s no doubt who he would like it to be. 

He and Iowa State basketball fans would be willing to do just about anything to secure the signature of Ames High star and No. 1 national recruit Harrison Barnes, who will make his decision public Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Barnes will choose between ISU, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The smart money is on one of the Tobaccco Road schools, but there seems to be a growing feeling that the Cyclones are not as big of a long shot as once believed.

As of right now, Ejim is the only player signed, sealed and delivered.

“We are excited about Melvin and have been since the first time I saw him,” McDermott said. “His defensive tenacity and his love for playing on that end of the floor is what attracted us to him.”

Ejim averaged 12.3 points and 4.6 rebounds last season at Brewster. He’s added to his offensive game that was already strong behind the 3-point line. 

Physically, the 6-6, 215-pound Ejim won’t have any problems adjusting to the college game. 

“His body is ready for the Big 12,” McDermott said. “He likes to get in the weight room and do the things necessary there.”

NFL future for Cyclone seniors?

November 10, 2009

Iowa State center Reggie Stephens is emerging as an NFL prospect.

The 6-3, 330-pound senior is being talked about as a possible middle-round pick in April’s draft.

“There have been a lot of scouts that have come through that really like him,” said ISU offensive line coach Bill Bleil.  “He’s a fine football player and one of the better o-linemen I’ve had the opportunity to coach.”

Stephens will need to continue impressing NFL folks at the February combine and in senior all-star games following bowl season.

“It’s all in front of him,” Bleil said.

Receiver Marquis Hamilton also has aspirations of playing pro football. The senior from Oklahoma City has moved up ISU’s all-time charts, ranking ninth in both receptions (115) and yards (1,428).

Hamilton has caught 38 balls for 525 yards and three touchdowns this season. He’s dreamed about playing in the NFL since he was a young boy.

“I don’t know what my chances are but I am going to work towards that goal,” Hamilton said.

Senior defensive end Chris Lyle

Arnaud re-injured, Tiller in at QB

November 7, 2009

Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud returned after a two-game absence, but had to be taken out of the game late in the second quarter after re-injuring his right hand.

Redshirt freshman Jerome Tiller replaced Arnaud with 3:57 to play before halftime in the middle of a series.

Arnaud was 6 of 11 passing for 48 yards and an interception. He ran five times for 5 yards.

There is no word on his return to the game. He was throwing passes before the start of the second half, however.

ISU trails No. 18 Oklahoma State 13-0 at halftime.

Tiller started the last two weeks at Nebraska and Texas A&M. The Cyclones scored only two touchdowns in those games.