AMES — The pressure may finally be getting to Greg McDermott.
The Iowa State coach got emotional addressing reporters after his team’s 69-64 loss to Oklahoma State, the Cyclones’ fifth straight and eighth in nine tries.
ISU (13-13, 2-9 Big 12) couldn’t do much right early on and trailed 36-16 with 5 1/2 minutes before halftime.
Fans were restless. The student section was quiet, except for the snide remarks aimed at ISU’s players and their fourth-year coach. Players’ body language screamed frustration and embarassment.
“The start of the game was a joke,” McDermott said softly, searching for the right words. “That’s all there is to it. It’s my job to get these guys ready and they obviously weren’t. I didn’t feel like we practiced with quite as much focus and energy the past few days, but there’s no excuse for it.”
The Cyclones rallied to make it a game, led for a bit in the second half, but couldn’t make enough of the right plays late to win.
On the court, we saw McDermott act in a way fans — and we in the media — aren’t used to seeing from him.
After a no-call on forward Craig Brackins under ISU’s basket, McDermott reacted by ripping off his suit coat, throwing it to the ground and screaming in the face of official Kip Kissinger, who quickly whistled McDermott for a technical foul.
It didn’t stop there. He rode officials the rest of the way, barking and staring, and probably is lucky he wasn’t tossed.
A colleague of mine described McDermott as looking defeated during his post-game remarks. Could you blame the guy with how this once-promising season has gone?
It was a strange scene Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum. It could get stranger.
Athletic Director Jamie Pollard isn’t talking publicly about McDermott’s status. It’s getting harder to ignore with each passing game that doesn’t go ISU’s way.