Archive for January, 2010

Cyclone wbb making reservations at the Hilton

January 29, 2010

AMES — Bill Fennelly is breathing a little easier these days.

Barring an utter collapse or the swine flu infecting a half-dozen players, Iowa State (16-3, 4-2 Big 12) has to feel awfully good about its chances of playing at Hilton Coliseum in late March and putting fannies in the seats.

Hilton is one of 16 sites for first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games.

The Cyclones’ 63-56 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma (14-5, 4-2) on Wednesday only enhances their postseason resume that also includes a win at No. 19 Texas.

After an 0-2 start in the league, ISU has ripped off four straight victories and is finally seeing the balance the coach had hoped would be there by this point in the season.

That was evident agianst the Sooners.

Reserves combined for 14 points and 15 rebounds. Freshman Jessica Schroll ripped down 11 big rebounds and scored four points. Amanda Zimmerman added six points and Whitney Williams scored three and had a key assist to Kelsey Bolte late in the game.

“It’s the best our bench has played in a long time,” Fennelly said. “It was outstanding.”

Schroll responded well to being benched and berated after drawing a technical foul against Texas. Fennelly chewed her out, sat her at the end of the bench and did not play her the rest of the game.

The 5-11 guard got herself out of the doghouse and logged a career-high 32 minutes against OU.

“She came out and played with the energy and effort that this team needed,” Fennelly said. “That showed a lot of maturity on her part and I’m very proud of her for doing that. Most young people would not have acted that way considering what she’s gone through the last three days.

“She has obviously been raised right and coached right by other people.”

Lacey has played at an all-Big 12 level all season. Bolte is finally coming around in league games and asserting herself offensively.

The newcomers are fitting in and proving they can perform in crunch time. 

“I hope what is says is that our players are understanding and embracing the process,” Fennelly said. “Defensively we’ve been good most of the year. Now we are getting just enough scoring at just the right time. We are taking care of the ball and we have a great point guard.”

ISU plays at Kansas State Sunday.

Shirley dropped by ESPN for Haiti blog

January 27, 2010

Former Iowa State basketball player, NBA vagabond and blogger extroardinaire Paul Shirley has lost his writing gig at ESPN. com.

Shirley shared with the world Tuesday on www.flipcollective.com his perspective on the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the relief and fundraising efforts since. Those views have apparently not endeared him to much of the general public, most notably ESPN, who has published his blog entries for the last several years.

Here is the opening few grafs of his piece:

I do not know if what I’m about to write makes me a monster. I do know that it makes me a part of a miniscule minority, if Internet trends and news stories of the past weeks are any guide.

“It”, is this:

I haven’t donated a cent to the Haitian relief effort. And I probably will not.

I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads “Need You’re Help” is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him. If I use history as my guide, I don’t think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either.

At last check there were 520 comments from people expressing outrage, appreciation, understanding — or some combination of those feelings and emotions.

ESPN was not amused, and promptly fired the free-thinking baller.

The company’s full statement reads like this:

“He was a part-time freelance contributor. The views he expressed on another site of course do not at all reflect our company’s views on the Haiti relief efforts. He will no longer contribute to ESPN.”

Here’s Shirley’s letter: http://www.flipcollective.com/2010/01/26/if-you-rebuild-it-they-will-come-by-paul-shirley/

Men’s hoops news and notes

January 26, 2010

AMES — Marquis Gilstrap is scheduled to rejoin the team Tuesday night in Oklahoma following his uncle’s funeral back home in Georgia.

Gilstrap left Ames Monday morning. He’ll participate in Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the Lloyd Noble Center prior to Iowa State’s 8 p.m. game against Oklahoma.

Hopefully the Cyclones’ leading scorer (18 ppg) and rebounder (12.3)  in Big 12 Conference play won’t show much rust and a lack of preparedness for the scouting report. Gilstrap was withheld from Sunday’s practice because of a sore knee.

“These couple days might be good for him to get a little bit of rest,” said Coach Greg McDermott. “He’s got an understanding of what we are doing. He’ll be fine.”

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A victory tonight over the Sooners  would be reason for celebration in more ways than one.

No Iowa State team has won in Norman since Valentine’s Day 1996, a 70-58 victory. The Cyclone men have lost six straight at OU and 16 consecutive regular-season games in the state of Oklahoma counting in games at Oklahoma State.

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With just eight scholarship guys, ISU players are having to settle into roles they are not entirely familiar with.

Sophomore Dominique Buckley is one of three point guards on the active roster. Buckley is having to play the off guard spot with Lucca Staiger and Charles Boozer unavailable.

It’s been an adjustment, to say the least.

“That’s not something he’s practiced at any time over the last year-and-a-half because we’ve had enough depth. He’s going to have to play there the rest of the season.”

Scott Christopherson will start his third game since Staiger’s shocking decision to leave the team.

Like Gilstrap, Christopherson also missed practice Sunday because of an illness. He’s carrying a heavy load for McDermott on both ends of the floor.

“We are asking a lot of Scott,” he said. “He’s got to guard (Kansas’) Sherron Collins, but I expect him to score. He’ll guard (Oklahoma’s) Willie Warren, and I need him to score some points. It would be nice if there was enough offense around him that we wouldn’t have to rely on him heavily.”

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ISU has now seen them both up close. Which team is better, Kansas or Texas?

“They are both really talented and both very deep,” McDermott said.

The Big 12 heavyweights meet up Feb. 8 in an ESPN Big Monday game. The No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (19-1) beat up on Missouri last night, winning 84-65 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas (17-2) fell to No. 6 in the Associated Press poll after losses last week to Kansas State and Connecticut.

“It’s going to be a heck of a game,” McDermott said. “They are both athletic, they both can score on the inside, they both have solid point guard play. Both are very deserving of a top-10 ranking.”

Gallick out for year after hip surgery

January 25, 2010

AMES – If Iowa State is to win its first national title since 1987, it’ll have to do it without Nick Gallick.

ISU’s senior two-time All-American had surgery last Friday to remove a bone spur from his hip and will miss the rest of season, Coach Kevin Jackson said Monday.

“Losing a guy like Nick, one of your leaders, definitely hurts us,” Jackson said. “The injury was a lot more serious than originally thought. But all teams have injuries and are missing guys. That’s sports. We’ll move forward.”

The 141-pounder hadn’t wrestled since a sudden victory win over Iowa’s Dan LeClere during a Dec. 6 dual meet at Hilton Coliseum. Gallick was able to practice off and on since then, but never could fully shake the pain.

Rehabilitation will last about seven to eight months, Jackson said. ISU is planning an appeal to the NCAA to try and get Gallick an additional year of eligibility.

Gallick redshirted as a true freshman.

The Tucson, Ariz., native finished fifth and third at the last two national tournaments and was 5-0 this year.

“I really believe he can dominate that weight class,” Jackson said earlier this month. “I’m convinced he’s a national finalist. He is very capable of dominating anyone he wrestles, but he hasn’t seen any mat time.”

Sophomore Dalton Jensen takes Gallick’s spot in the lineup permanently.

ESPN’s Fraschilla on Cyclone hoops, Staiger

January 25, 2010

Chatted with ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla before Saturday’s game between Iowa State and Kansas at Hilton Coliseum.

Fraschilla, always fair and informed with his commentary, had some revealing things to say about Coach Greg McDermott and the Cyclone basketball program.

Success at the high major level is difficult to attain — and maintain.

“If you are not at Kansas, Kentucky, Carolina, Syracuse, Duke and maybe three or four other programs you are living day to day in college basketball,” Fraschilla said. “It is just the way it is.”

ISU’s is program that grew accustomed to postseason basketball be it the NCAAs or NIT. It hasn’t sniffed either in McDermott’s three-plus seasons, for a variety of reasons that have some starting to wonder how much of the player turnover and below-average records is in indictment of the head coach.

With the roster shuffle that’s gone on the last three weeks and ISU down to eight scholarship players reaching those NCAA goals will require a lot of things to go their way. 

The Cyclones are 12-7 overall and 1-3 in the Big 12 going into Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma.

Enough of me. Here’s more of what Fraschilla had to say:

On Lucca Staiger’s decision to quit the team:

“For a guy to leave you in the middle of the season is unconscionable. I know Europeand baektbalt maybe as well as anybody who follows baskebtall in the States. For that kid to leave like he did for basically a prorated $100,000 contract..he could’ve gotten that contract in May or June. He could have. The simple fact is where he is an average player in the Big 12, he is considered one of their top young players. That tells you all you need to know about the level of German basketball.”

On another high-profile player suddenly leaving the program:

“We all know Wes Johnson’s family shopped him to Kentucky and a bunch of other schools around the country. It’s worked out for him and good for him. I definitely don’t buy that there wasn’t a great relationship. I think that was an excuse for his family to be able to get him out of here to a higher profile program. Iowa State is not considered basketball royalty. A kid gets a chance to leave and go to Syracuse or Kentucky, and has a family member that talks him into it, what can you do? There’s nothing you can do about it… If you put Wes Johnson on the floor with these guys and minimize some of the injuries they’ve have, they easily could have been a top-15 team. That’s what i mean by bad breaks.”

On McDermott and his difficulties building a winner:

“I know if you talk to other coaches in the Big 12, every one thinks that Greg is a tremendous coach who has had horrible luck. Now, when does that luck run out? That’s up to Iowa State to determine. I know from watching his teams at Northern Iowa and watching how he prepares his teams here that he is a very, very good coach. I went through this at New Mexico with bad luck. I went from being a genius in New York to a guy in Albuquerque who people thought should be parking cars. I understand how it works. It’s easy for fans and media to get down on you.  That’s the way things work, but I know he is a good basketball coach.”

Should Colvin play tonight?

January 20, 2010

Greg McDermott’s hand has been forced.

The Iowa State coach has preached tough love with freshman guard Chris Colvin, wanting to keep the kid’s suspension intact until February as previously decided.

A lack of able bodies and Colvin’s response to the punishment has apparently changed McDermott’s mind. Colvin will be in uniform tonight when ISU plays Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.

Asked Monday about Colvin, McDermott was firm in maintaining the original timeline despite his shrinking bench.

“That (suspension) takes precedence,” he said. “Winning games isn’t as important and getting him straightened out.”

Less than 24 hours later, Lucca Staiger jumped ship in order to return home to Germany and play professionally, leaving the Cyclones with just seven active scholarship players.

Colvin makes eight.

He’s been out of action since Jan. 6, when he walked out of a team meeting after a blowout loss to Duke at the United Center in Chicago.

Colvin, who has averages of 3.2 points and 2.3 assists a game, has been a good boy since.

“He’s been fabulous,” McDermott said. “It’s almost as if the weight of the world has been lifted off his shoulders. He didn’t know how to express himself when adversity struck him. Hopefully this will be a growing experience for him. It has been so far and I’d like to see it continue.” 

Teammate Craig Brackins has seen a change for the better in Colvin.

“He understands what he did and is showing that he really wants to be here,” Brackins said. “He does want to be here and we all know that.”

Apparently Staiger didn’t, and that’s unfortunate considering the time and effort put into his 2 1/2 years in Ames.

ISU spent countless man hours trying to get him eligible as a freshman. Trips to Germany during the offseason were made in order to visit Staiger. All the individual work put into his development…

All for naught.

Lucca’s free….what now for the Cyclones?

January 20, 2010

AMES — Iowa State basketball coaches Greg McDermott and Jeff Rutter gave it their best shot in convincing Lucca Staiger to continue his basketball career in the United States.

But Staiger’s plane ticket was purchased and his mind made up: the junior guard is leaving ISU mid-season to begin his professional career in Germany.

“We attempted to reason with him and explain to him what we felt were the benefits of finishing the season,” McDermott said late Tuesday night. “We felt there were a lot of positives to that. Lucca, however, felt the (financial) guarantee that he would have wasn’t worth the risk.”

And so, the Cyclones (12-5, 1-1 Big 12) come into tonight’s 6:30 p.m. game at Texas Tech with just seven scholarship players scheduled to suit up.

The head coach has some thinking to do between now and tip-off. His options are these:

— Play the next four games with those seven players until freshman guard Chris Colvin comes off suspension in February

— Reinstate Colvin immediately, which McDermott said Monday before Staiger’s stunning announcement he would not do

— Pull the redshirt off one of the true freshmen guards, Antwon Oliver or Bubu Palo

“None of the three of those is ideal,” McDermott said, “but I have to decide along with input from my coaching staff what is best for our team at this point in time. Outside of the plane ride I haven’t had a lot of time to think about what to do moving forward.”

Scott Christopherson will take Staiger’s place in the starting lineup.

The sophomore guard, who averages 6.8 points a game, often has been a late-game replacement for Staiger. He is shooting 50 percent both from the field (41 of 82) and 3-point range (19 of 38).

“There’s an opportunity there for someone else and I’m certain Scott is going to grab a hold of that and run with it,” McDermott said.

Staiger led the Cyclones with 48 3-pointers and was his 9.4 points a game was third-most on the team.

It’s been an eventful 2010 for ISU so far. Colvin was suspended, center Jamie Vanderbeken is being withheld from competition because of injury, forward L.A. Pomlee was dismissed, guard Charles Boozer sustained a season-ending knee injury and Tuesday came Staiger’s shocker.

McDermott — who had to deal with a similar situation in April 2008 when Wesley Johnson abruptly decided to transfer — will really have to circle the wagons in order to have a strong finish. 

“I hope this is a rallying point for the guys “ he said. “We are going to have to count on each other.”

Staiger’s statement

January 20, 2010

Here’s Lucca Staiger’s statement in its entirety, courtesy of Iowa State’s media relations department:

“I came to the United States with the hope of playing professional basketball in the NBA. After the past couple of seasons in college, I’ve realized that dream has become less likely. An opportunity to play professionally in my home country has come my way and I’ve decided to pursue it right away. I will miss my teammates and the greats fans at Iowa State and I know this is a bad time to leave. I appreciate the opportunity that Coach (Greg) McDermott gave me to play at Iowa State, but I felt like it was important to make this move now because the opportunity might not be there in the future for me.”

Boozer down, hopefully not out

January 19, 2010

Surgery, not Texas Tech or Kansas or anyone else in the Big 12 Conference, awaits Charles Boozer.

The Iowa State junior guard will go under the knife later this week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.  Boozer, injured last Wednesday in ISU’s loss to No. 1 Texas, was coming off a career scoring night in the non-conference finale and was readying himself for a key role in Coach Greg McDermott’s rotation.

The phone call came last Friday on the bus ride to Nebraska: Boozer’s season was over.

“Obviously he was disappointed and we were disappointed,” McDermott said. “He was playing the best basketball of his career. You hate to see that happen at that time.”

McDermott tried to find the positive to draw from Boozer’s unfortunate injury.

ISU has just eight scholarship players available heading into Wednesday night’s 6:30 p.m. game in Lubbock, Texas.

“The silver lining is that he was feeling really good about the way he was playing,” McDermott said, “and I think that will help motivate him to really get after this rehab and get back on the floor as quickly as he can.”

Another Cyclone streak snapped in Lincoln

January 17, 2010

Iowa State’s streak-busting in Lincoln continued Saturday night with a 56-53 win at Nebraska, snapping a 16-game Big 12 Conference road losing skid.

Three months earlier — just days apart — it was the Cyclone football team leaving town with its first win at Memorial Stadium since 1977 and ISU’s volleyball team winning its first overall match against the Huskers in 75 tries.

As was the case with football, it wasn’t pretty, but the Cyclones finished strong.

They got the job done defensively down the stretch, holding Nebraska down and forcing tough shots for the offensively challenged Huskers.

ISU survived this one despite shooting 39.3 percent on FGs and having Craig Brackins score just six points.

Brackins, who along with juniors Diante Garrett and Lucca Staiger got his first conference road victory, did pull down 11 rebounds and dish out three assists.

Seven different players had at least six points, led by Marquis Gilstrap’s 15 to go with 12 rebounds.

Next up is a game at Texas Tech on Wednesday. That’s another very winnable road game. Is two in a row too tall a task for this crew?

DEPTH PERCEPTION

It wasn’t long ago that depth was thought to be a strength of this team.

Not anymore.

The Cyclones are down to eight scholarship players after Saturday’s news that reserve guard Charles Boozer will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Boozer was hurt in Wednesday’s loss to No. 1-ranked Texas.

He would have been an important player off the bench for Coach Greg McDermott over the last half of the season.  Instead, he joins Jamie Vanderbeken (ankle) on injured reserve and is the fourth player in the last 10 days to become unavailable.

Forward L.A. Pomlee was dismissed and freshman point guard Chris Colvin is on suspension until at least February.

ISU managed themselves fine agianst Nebraska, but are going to find more difficult tests in the next two months.  Right now the help off the bench consists of Scott Christopherson, LaRon Dendy and Dominique Buckley.

McDermott, from all indications, is not considering pulling the redshirt off true freshman Antwon Oliver.

NBA DOWN ON BRACKINS?

The newest issue of ESPN the Magazine includes a not-so-flattering blurb about Brackins’ pro prospects.

In hoops analyst Doug Gottlieb’s notes column, Gottlieb quotes an unnamed NBA scout on Brackins: “He’s wildly overrated.” Gottlieb says league evaluators are seeing the 6-10 big man as “a face-the-basket 3 trapped in a 4’s body without enough athleticism to create his own shot.”

Brackins was a sure first-round NBA Draft pick last June but decided to return to ISU for his junior season.

A mock draft at www.nbadraft.net has Brackins going No. 16 to Minnesota.  It also has former Cyclone Wesley Johnson, now at Syracuse, at No. 2 overall behind Kentucky’s freshman point guard John Wall.