Posts Tagged ‘Craig Brackins’

Cyclones Lacey, Brackins prepping for hoops career

April 2, 2010

AMES — Iowa State’s pro basketball prospects are gearing up for their drafts.

It was announced Thursday that Cyclone point guard Alison Lacey was one of 14 players invited to attend the WNBA’s Draft on April 8 in Secaucus, N.J.

She plans on being there, along with head coach Bill Fennelly, assistant Jodi Steyer and student assistant/roommate Brittany Lange.

Lacey has been working out since ISU’s season ended Sunday in a NCAA tournament loss to Connecticut. She hasn’t been sure about continuing her professional career,  but it sounds as if the WNBA is in her future.

“It is shocking that it is actually happening,” Lacey said. “Just to be mentioned with the people that will be at the draft is surreal. If you would have told me back in Australia that this would have happened there is no way I would have believed it.”

Lacey, a first-team all-Big 12 pick this season, will be the eighth player in ISU history picked for the draft and the first since Lyndsey Medders in 2007.

Other players in the conference joining her in person at the draft will be Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley, Nebraska’s Kelsey Griffin, Kansas’ Danielle McCray and Oklahoma’s Amanda Thompson.

Meanwhile, former Cyclone big man Craig Brackins is living in Las Vegas, working out daily in preparation for the June 24 NBA Draft.

The 6-10 forward is sharing an apartment with Oklahoma State guard James Anderson, who also decided to leave school a year early for a chance at the NBA.

Brackins and Anderson became fast friends last summer while playing in the World University Games.

The Web site http://www.nbadraft.net projects Brackins as an early second-round pick.  He is hoping to go higher than that, obviously, and earn a guaranteed contract if selected in the first round.

Ex-Cyclones Stinson, Blalock want to see program rebound

March 17, 2010

Former Iowa State star would like to see his team back in Big Dance

AMES — As March Madness tips off Thursday around the country, there’s excitement and disappointment with former Cyclone Curtis Stinson.

Stinson captained Iowa State’s last NCAA Tournament team in 2005, when the Cyclones beat Minnesota and fell in the second round to eventual national champion North Carolina. ISU hasn’t come close to a postseason game since.

Meanwhile, his Iowa Energy teammates are going back and forth about their alma mater’s chances in the Big Dance.

“I want to be able to talk about my team, too, when NCAA time comes around and people are doing their brackets,” Stinson said during a late-season visit to Hilton Coliseum with former running mate Will Blalock, also an NBA D-Leaguer.

Despite how things ended for both of them at ISU – turning pro early after head coach Wayne Morgan was fired and Greg McDermott was hired away from Northern Iowa – they are eager for their school to rediscover Hilton Magic and get back to the Big Dance.

Their final season was ISU’s last one over .500.

“I want to see Iowa State be successful,” Stinson said. “This is my school. I’ll always be a Cyclone no matter what happens. I want to see them win. I’m cool with some of the guys on the team. I want them to be happy and experience what we did. We had some big wins and NCAA experience.”

Morgan’s exit and the mass exodus that followed, in large part, has led to the program’s troubles.

Blalock hadn’t been back to Ames for a game since he left. He didn’t feel Morgan deserved to be let go.

“That’s why I’m still kinda bitter about the situation,” Blalock said. “If he was here I’d probably be showing a lot more support than I am.

“Being a fan of my school I’m going to support them regardless. I know they’ll turn it around sooner or later. You can’t really put too much pressure on them. They are in a rebuilding process. Hopefully next year it’ll be a lot better.”

McDermott received a vote of confidence from athletic director Jamie Pollard last week and has five years left on his contract.

ISU’s team won’t have an easy time winning next season without starters Craig Brackins, Marquis Gilstrap, Lucca Staiger and Justin Hamilton. Stinson hopes ISU’s patience pays off.

“I never want to see nobody not make it,” he said. “I know how hard it is to get that next level… Every team is a building process.”

Hamilton’s surprise transfer a killer for Cyclones

March 14, 2010

Craig Brackins’ exit from Iowa State’s basketball program hardly comes as a surprise.

Justin Hamilton’s does.

And it hurts. Bad.

The sophomore center was the Cyclones’ most improved player this season and an expected anchor of the team’s frontcourt next year and beyond. But after two seasons of teaching and bodyshaping – turning Hamilton into a player opposing teams have to include on their scouting report – he’s gone, looking for a school closer to his home state of Utah.

The smart money says he lands at BYU.

Hamilton’s decision came as a surprise to many. Here he was a few days earlier when asked about next season, where the uncertainly lied with Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap:

“We have to just see what happens. I’m sure everything will work out,” he said. “We’ll have a great team next year… We are going to have a lot of unknowns. We are going to have to have a lot of guys improve over the summer.”

Now, days after coach Greg McDermott and athletic director Jamie Pollard professed their excitement over next year’s team, the roster is yet again in tatters.

Here was Pollard last Monday:

“There’s a group of individuals that are coming back that have played in the toughest conference in the country hands down… and been in games,” he said. “I look at that nucleus and stay that isn’t starting over.”

Hamilton was at the center of that nucleus. Not anymore.

Four-fifths of the lineup that started ISU’s 2009-10 season opener (Brackins, Hamilton, Gilstrap and Lucca Staiger) is history.

So who’s left?

Diante Garrett will be a senior. So will reserve forward LaRon Dendy.

Charles Boozer and Jamie Vanderbeken are coming back off injury.

Chris Colvin says he’s coming back. Should we believe him?

Scott Christopherson has already left one school to come to ISU. He isn’t going anywhere.

Antwon Oliver and Bubo Palo rode out redshirts this season and don’t figure to go elsewhere before ever playing a game.

Signed for next year is Brewster (N.H.) Academy wing Melvin Ejim and Marshalltown Community College guard DeMarcus Phillips. Oregon prep center Jordan Railey has verbally committed.

That’s 10 scholarship players on the hook right now for next season – assuming no one else decides to pick up and leave.

Three spots are open.

McDermott and his staff are recruiting the junior college ranks heavily, and they need to.  Immediate help is imperative for a team that went 15-17 overall, 4-12 in the Big 12, and now has lost its top two scorers and three best rebounders.

“We’ve got to have guys who are committed to each other and are committed to the institution. If you have that, you have a chance,” McDermott said. “I like the new guys that we have coming in and hopefully we can add to that.”

Playing time will be a big selling point.

It should be an interesting couple of weeks before the start of the late signing period.

Brackins going pro, two others leaving team

March 12, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Forward Craig Brackins will forgo his final year of eligibility and Justin Hamilton and Dominique Buckley will transfer away from Iowa State, Coach Greg McDermott confirmed this afternoon.

Brackins will hire an agent, according to an ISU release.

The all-Big 12 forward stayed in town to watch ISU’s women’s team play in the Big 12 Tournament will be available to reporters at halftime of their quarterfinal game against Oklahoma State tonight.

His exit was expected. Hamilton’s is a major blow to a team that went 15-17 overall and now will be without starters Brackins, Hamilton and Marquis Gilstrap.

The sophomore center started 32 games this season, averaging 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. The Alpine, Utah, native said he wants to play somewhere closer to home.

“I appreciate everything the Cyclone Nation has done for me,” Hamilton said. “The fan base, my teammates and the support of the community at ISU has been incredible, but I just feel I need to be at a school closer to home where my family will have a better opportunity to watch me play. I appreciate everything Coach McDermott and the coaching staff has done for me. They have helped me improve as a player and person.”

Buckley averaged 1.4 points in 27 games this season as a reserve.

Finally, Cyclones and McDermott catch a break

March 7, 2010

A group of reporters were sitting inside Hilton Coliseum the other night asking which game, if any, could be considered the signature win in Greg McDermott’s four seasons as Iowa State’s head coach.

The list of candidates was not terribly impressive. It’s better now.

McDermott has a no-brainer after Saturday’s 85-82 victory at No. 5 Kansas State, the Cyclones’ first win over a ranked opponent since Feb. 5, 2006, a span of 21 games.

It was the coach’s first win over a ranked opponent in 20 tries, including nine this season, most of any team in the Big 12 Conference.

Here was McDermott’s post-game address to his players inside the locker room, courtesy of cyclones.com

ISU (15-16, 4-12) started fast, led 42-33 at halftime and were tough and colllected in the closing minutes of regulation and overtime — which were played without star forward Craig Brackins, who had fouled out with 2 1/2 minutes to play.

K-State tried to make it a numbers game. Brackins and LaRon Dendy each fouled out, while Justin Hamilton and Scott Christopherson made it through despite each having four fouls with 6 minutes still to play in regulation.

Diante Garrett scored five of his eigth in the extra session.

Finally, the bounce of the ball went the Cyclones’ way. After Tuesday’s disheartening overtime loss to Missouri at the buzzer, they needed a pick me up.

“My hat’s off to Greg McDermott,” K-State coach Frank Martin told reporters after his Wildcats likely dropped out of contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. “As disappointed as I am in our guys, I’m extremely happy for him, happy for those kids. With all the close losses they’ve had this year, [McDermott] continues to get those kids to play as hard as he does. I’m real happy for Greg.”

Now it’s on to Kansas City, Mo., and the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center.

ISU faces Texas (23-8, 9-7), which has lost eight of its 14 games after a 17-0 start propelled them to No. 1 in the rankings two days before coming to Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13.

The Longhorns won that game 90-83, quickly erasing ISU’s halftime lead and pulling away late.

Here’s the schedule for the Big 12 Tournament (Cyclone fans will have to stay up late to watch):

Wednesday’s opening-round games

11:30 a.m. — No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 9 Texas Tech

2 p.m. — No. 5 Missouri vs. No. 12 Nebraska

6 p.m. — No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Oklahoma

8:30 p.m. — No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Iowa State

Thursday’s quarterfinals

11:30 a.m. — No. 1 Kansas vs. Colorado-Texas Tech winner

2 p.m. — No. 4 Texas A&M vs. Missouri-Nebraska winner

6 p.m. — No. 2 Kansas State vs. Oklahoma-Oklahoma St. winner

8:30 p.m. — No. 3 Baylor vs. Texas-Iowa State winner

Brackins shoots (and shoots) his way out of slump

February 25, 2010

AMES — It was 90 minutes before tip-off Wednesday and who was out on the Hilton Coliseum floor getting extra shots up in advance of Iowa State’s game with Nebraska?

It was Craig Brackins, who had hit just 18 of his previous 68 field goal attempts. The all-Big 12 forward has been doing all he can to break out of this slump. 

“Some guys hide when they struggle and some guys attack it,” Coach Greg McDermott said following ISU’s 78-74 victory. “Right now (attacking) is what he’s doing.”

Whatever he did — it worked. Brackins finished with 21 points — 14 in the second half and 11 down the stretch — to go with 10 rebounds. He hit 7 of his 12 shots from the filed.

“Craig is a great player and rose to the occasion,” said guard Scott Christopherson, who added 17 points of his own and was key in helping snap a six-game losing streak.

Brackins talked earlier in the week about doing more extra work after practices and on his own. He stayed true to his word.

“I made sure I had extra shots,” Brackins said.

The victory puts ISU into a tie for 10th place in the Big 12 Conferenece standings with Colorado, who happens to be its opponent Saturday afternoon.

For a few days at least, the Cyclones can bask in the feeling of a win and quell some of the talk that McDermott’s job may be on the line.

ISU notched McDermott’s 17th Big 12 victory Wednesday night. It was his sixth over Nebraska.

Christopherson not letting mono slow him down

February 23, 2010

AMES — Scott Christopherson’s body is saying one thing. His mind is telling him another. 

The Iowa State guard continues to play hard while fighting off mononucleosis. Christopherson hasn’t been the same since contracting the virus early in the Big 12 season, but has refused to give in mentally.

“I don’t want to be sick and I’m not going to tell myself I am,” Christopherson said recently. “Am I 100 percent? No. But I’m going to go into every game thinking I am because there’s no point in not… Everybody is fatigued and their knees hurt and their body aches. As far as I’m concerned I’m just like everybody else.”

Christopherson scored a career-best 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting last week in a loss to Oklahoma State.

He’s taking one for his short-handed team, which is down to eight scholarship players going into Wednesday night’s game agianst Nebraska at Hilton Coliseum.

Christopherson again will likely log 30-plus minutes for the Cyclones, who come in with an overall mark of 13-14 and 2-10 in league games.

“The effort he’s giving when he shouldn’t really be playing is incredible,” said Coach Greg McDermott. “There aren’t many guys that would play through what he’s playing through. Somehow he’s finding enough energy on game day.”

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McDermott indicated Monday he still is not ready to welcome forward LaRon Dendy back into his good graces.

Dendy was gone from the team for a full week — and two games — to attend his great grandmother’s funeral in South Carolina. Dendy returned days later than expected and without a good explanation.

He did not play in last Wednesday’s loss to OSU and saw four minutes of action last Saturday against Texas A&M.

“He and I met (Sunday) and talked through some things,” McDermott said. “I like the progress he’s making. We’ll gradually work him back into the lineup.”

Dendy is averaging 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds a game. He’s tried to keep his head up, teammates say.

“He’s working extra hard and is doing what he has to do to get back some more minutes,” said Craig Brackins.

McDermott: Brackins’ draft stock still high

February 22, 2010

AMES — Don’t get too excited thinking a down year by Craig Brackins is going to kill his draft prospects and keep him at Iowa State for another year.

Coach Greg McDermott still thinks the 6-10 forward is NBA bound at season’s end.

“He hasn’t said that for sure, but that’s my feeling,” McDermott said Monday.

“There still aren’t many skilled 6-10 power forwards floating around that can do what he can do. You don’t see the kind of same type of defense in the NBA that you see in college basketball. When Criag hasn’t been double-teamed, he’s scored.”

Brackins is averaging 16.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a game — down from the 20.2 ppg and 9.5 rpg he put up last year as an all-Big 12 first-team player.

He’s been streaky this season and is in a major slump over the last four games, shooting 18 for 68 (26.5 percent) from the floor. 

“I probably shoot 200 to 300 shots a day. Maybe I’ll try 400 or 500,” Brackins said. “Maybe what I’m doing is not enough. I’ve worked twice as hard this year than last year and I’m still a little off.”

The web site www.draftexpress.com has Brackins as a high second-round pick. Another mock draft at www.nbadraft.net projects Brackins as going No. 21 overall.

New to the draft game this year is a May 8 deadline for early entries to pull their name out and still retain their eligibility. Prospects used to be able to go later into the process before having to do that.

April 25th is the deadline players have to declare for the draft.

Brackins — and 6-7 wing Marquis Gilstap, if he is granted a sixth year of eligibility — should have their plans figured out by then.

“They’ll make some decisions shortly after the season is over,” McDermott said. “I don’t think either one of them is in a situation where they are going to drag this out.”

Gilstrap, who is averaging 14.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, could be awarded another season if the NCAA rules in favor of ISU’s appeal. He could also decide to turn pro.

Gilstrap and his girlfriend have a young child together and are expecting another in June.

“His priority is feeding his family and he’s going to make a decision that’s in the best interests of his family,” McDermott said. “Nobody can question him on that.”

Either way, the Cyclones are moving forward as if they won’t have either Gilstrap or Brackins back next season. The late signing period opens in mid-April.

Cyclone Fanatic.com reported Monday that ISU has offered Marshallltown Community College wing Will Clyburn.

“You recruit with the assumption they’re not coming back and if they do, you still have time,” McDermott said. “It’s not like we’ve got anybody committed there.”

Is McDermott finally feeling the heat?

February 18, 2010

McDermott's post-game scene Wednesday was tough to watch

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.

ISU-Mizzou mbb: my postscript

February 11, 2010

Iowa State fought hard in a 65-56 loss at Missouri Wednesday night with just seven scholarship player suited up.

They were within one point on a handful of occasions late in the second half. They never took the lead and Kim English’s long 3-pointer with 1:45 to play pretty much sealed the game, and ISU’s sixth loss in seven games.

The Cyclones are 13-11 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12 heading into Saturday’s game at No. 1 Kansas.

Which team is more disappointment in being 13-11 you think, ISU or North Carolina after Wed. night’s loss to Duke? That’s a discussion for another day.

Anyways, here are some observations from Wednesday night’s game at Mizzou:

— Lucca Staiger’s presence on the 3-point line is sorely missed. ISU is a combined 7 of 37 (18.9 percent) from beyond the arc over the last two games.

— It may not be in ISU’s best interests that Scott Christopherson is playing as much as he is. The shooting guard clearly is affected by his mononucleosis and his defense and outside shooting accuracy looks to me to be suffering. I’m aware of the numbers problem, but if he’s hurting the team get someone else  — like steady backup Dominique Buckley — in there for him.

— Had LaRon Dendy been in Columbia and not Greenville, S.C., this one could have gone the other way. The Tigers owned the offensive glass — especially late — an area where the 6-9 Dendy would have helped and prevented second and third shot opportunities.

— Craig Brackins really needs to stop forcing crazy impossible, high-degree-of-difficulty shots against double teams. I realize he’s the team’s leading scorer, but there has to be a better shot at the goal than some of the stuff he’s firing up there.

— Chris Colvin may have been 1 for 9 shooting but he got to the rim and into the paint as good as any Cyclone guard in recent memory. He’s not Jamaal Tinsley just yet, but say this for the freshman, he’s aggressive. And that’s a good thing.

— If ISU shoots anywhere close to the season-low 32.8 percent it shot against Mizzou, brace for an ugly, ugly loss to the Jayhawks aa Allen Fieldhouse. It may be ugly anyway.