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.”