Posts Tagged ‘Cyclones’

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.

Colvin returning; McDermott will be watching

March 10, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chris Colvin said once again Tuesday he plans on wearing the Iowa State uniform next season.

“I’ll be back next year,” the freshman guard from Chicago said.

That’s good news for Cyclone fans. It might not be so good for the likes of  Diante Garrett, Bubo Palo and Dominique Buckley, all of whom will be fighting for playing time at the lead guard spot.

Colvin, who is shooting at a 27.7 percent clip this season, is likely to slide over to the off guard. He said shooting will be a major part of his offseason workout program.

“That’s another thing I have to work on,” Colvin said. “I’ll probably be between a 1 and a 2 next year. I have no problem with that.”

ISU (15-16, 4-12) has seen several players transfer away from the program during McDermott’s tenure.

Will this be a year free from departures?

“I don’t think you every know that until the season is over,” Coach Greg McDermott said. “Guys evaluate in their own mind. They know better than anybody where they stand in the pecking order. Some guys are OK to stick around and fight for their position. Some don’t want to risk being the third guy and want to go play somewhere else.”

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One benefit to Iowa State’s 8:30 p.m. start Wednesday  against Texas at the Big12 Tournament is McDermott will be able to see his son, Doug, play in a state tournament quarterfinal game against Cedar Rapids Washington at 1:45 p.m.

Ames comes in at 24-0 and is trying to become the first-ever large class school in the state of Iowa to go unbeaten and win consecutive state titles.

“I’ll be able to at least watch it online and then hope I don’t get to see them Friday either,” McDermott said. “And not because they lose, because we win a few.”

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Next year’s schedule remains a work in progress.

ISU will play Creighton next season at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, face in-state schools Northern Iowa, Iowa, and Drake and also host California as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge.

“Other than that we haven’t come close to completing it,” McDermott said.

“We got to fill a few home games. We’d like to start against a good team on the road; possibly find a BCS conference school we cold start a home-and-home with on the road.”

Minnesota? Anyone else from the Big Ten?

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Northern Iowa won it second straight Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament championship Sunday and clinched yet another NCAA Tournament.

McDermott was able to catch some of the telecast and was happy for best friends and UNI coach Ben Jacobson and a handful of seniors he helped recruit before leaving the school in 2006.

“I want to see those people do well,” McDermott said. “I’m happy for them and I’m proud of them. I texted several of them (Sunday) night congratulating them and to say to make sure to enjoy it.”

The Panthers made three straight NCAA appearances during McDermott’s five seasons at UNI.Iow

More on McDermott’s return…

March 9, 2010

Sound off on Greg McDermott and his coaching performance all you want, Cyclone Nation.

But lay off his Iowa State players please, McDermott said Monday during a news conference centering on his continued employment as the team’s head coach.

Some ISU fans have been very vocal lately in their displeasure with McDermott and the program’s direction. The Cyclones — an NCAA hopeful coming into the season — have been a major disappointment at 15-16 overall and 4-12 in Big 12 play.

Direct your anger toward McDermott, he asks.

“I’m a big boy. I can handle it,” he said. “(The players) don’t deserve that. They deserve the support of every Cyclone fan out there… It’s not my right to care what other people think of the job that I am doing. They are entitled to their opinion and I respect that.”

Athletic Director Jamie Pollard gave the fourth-year coach a public vote of confidence in an e-mail to donors and ticket holders and later to assembled reporters.

McDermott said his seat never felt hot.

He and Pollard were in constant communication, even though Pollard wasn’t responding to increasing calls for a coaching change.

“The reality is my job was never in jeopardy,” McDermott said on Monday’s teleconference with league coaches. “I don’t have time to worry about what other people think and it’s none of my business what they think. I’ve had the unwavering support of the administration.”

The Cyclones have remain competitive when they could have packed it in.

They are 2-4 in their last six games, with four of the losses by five points or less. One of the wins was the 85-82 overtime shocker at No. 5 Kansas State.

Still, the wins haven’t come as regularly as expected. McDermott is 59-67 overall and 18-46 in Big 12 play.

Pollard feels McDermott still is the right man for the job.

“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “It’s been disappointing for fans, for Coach McDermott and his staff and for players. There’s a lot of things that have happened… some of which were self-inflicting, some were out of anybody’s control. At this juncture it doesn’t matter.”

Pollard: McDermott will return as coach

March 8, 2010

AMES –We’ve been waiting for weeks to hear Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard address the status of coach Greg McDermott and the state of the men’s basketball program.

Pollard finally did so Monday morning, emailing a letter to donors that, in part, pledges his support of McDermott.

He is expected to speak with reporters later today.

McDermott is 59-67 overall and 18-46 in Big 12 games in four seasons. ISU plays Texas Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

Here is Pollard’s full letter:

Dear Cyclone fans,

Nearly four years ago, we implemented several strategic decisions to elevate our athletics program within the Big 12 Conference. Our initiatives were to grow funding, enhance facilities and improve academic and competitive performance.

I am pleased to share with you that we have made significant progress:

1. We have increased annual funding for our athletics program from $28 million to $42 million. More importantly, we have achieved that level of funding while reducing our annual reliance on State support from 12% to less than 5%.

2. We have invested more than $50 million in critical facility upgrades and new construction, including the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center, the Sukup Basketball Complex, the Jack Trice Club and a golf indoor practice facility.

3. Last fall, our student-athletes recorded the highest graduation rate (79%) in Iowa State University history. That rate led the Big 12 and was 14% higher than ISU undergraduates.

4. We are in the midst of, potentially, the best competitive season in school history. Our Directors’ Cup finish for the fall (22nd nationally) is the best in ISU history and we are currently fifth in Big 12 all-sports rankings (on the heels of finishing last in seven of the prior eight years).

Unfortunately, one of the key elements in that competitive success – men’s basketball – has not experienced the same level of on-court success as many of our other programs. The competitive performance of our men’s basketball program has been both disappointing and frustrating.

Some fans have suggested that we make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program. It is important to understand that many factors are considered when deciding who gets the privilege and honor to be an Iowa State head coach. Certainly, competitive success is an important measure. However, so are the personal character and integrity of our coaches and the performance of our student-athletes in the classroom and in public.

Although we have not yet won games at the level we all desire, Coach McDermott and his staff have exhibited exemplary character and integrity and our men’s basketball student-athletes have performed admirably in many areas. As a result, I remain fully committed and supportive of Coach McDermott and his staff. Our department will continue to provide the necessary resources for our men’s basketball program to be competitive in this league and nationally so that we can achieve the goals we have outlined for our department.

As investors in our athletics program – through season ticket purchases and/or donations to the Cyclone Club – we felt it was important to communicate directly to you about our men’s basketball program.

Thank you for continuing to support us. As true Cyclones, we know that we can count upon your help as we try to reach our goals.
Go Cyclones!

Sincerely,

Jamie Pollard
Director of Athletics

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

Sick Lacey will sit out Saturday’s Senior Day festivities

March 4, 2010

AMES – There will be one very notable absence Saturday when Iowa State’s senior class plays it final regular season game at Hilton Coliseum.

Star point guard Alison Lacey won’t be in uniform and may not even be in the building for the No. 13 Cyclones’ 2 p.m. game against Colorado. Lacey is fighting a respiratory illness that caused her to miss Wednesday’s loss at Oklahoma State and will keep her out of the lineup until next week’s Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

“She’s had trouble breathing and she’s real run down,” Coach Bill Fennelly said Thursday. “She’s better today but not anywhere where we would gamble at all to play her.”

Lacey did not travel to Stillwater, Okla., and has not done anything basketball related since ISU’s win over Kansas State last Saturday.

Doctors have ruled out mononucleosis, which Lacey battled last year.

ISU (22-6, 10-5 Big 12) has clinched a top four seed and first-round bye in the conference tournament and would secure the No. 2 seed with a victory. A loss to the Buffaloes (13-15, 3-12) could affect NCAA Tournament seeding, but that’s a risk Fennelly is willing to take.

Lacey ranks fifth in the league in scoring (17.1), is second in assists (6.5) and first in free-throw percentage (88.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2).

“There’s no reason to push it,” Fennelly said. “We have to figure out the best way for our team to have its best chance in the postseason. That is to have Aus (Lacey) as rested and ready to go as possible.”

Recruits also on edge with coaching situation

March 3, 2010

DeMarcus Phillips is donig his best to convince Marshalltown Community College teammate Will Clyburn to also accept a scholarship offer to play at Iowa State.

“I tell him that every night,” Phillips said. “He said he’s still thinking. There’s a good chance he’ll be here. I feel confident about it.”

He wouldn’t be so sure about Clyburn or himself if Coach Greg McDermott and his staff don’t return. Phillips signed a letter of intent back in November’s early period.

“I’ve heard the rumors,” Phillips said Tuesday from Hilton Coliseum before ISU’s 69-67 overtime loss to Missouri. “I’m just letting it play out and see what happens when the season is over… If they didn’t come back it would affect me in a big way.”

Phillips and Clyburn — along with 6-9 forward John Wilkins from Southeastern CC in Burlington — sat courtside Tuesday.

Clyburn said he is considering several schools at this point, among them are ISU, Wichita State, Northern Iowa, Utah, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne.

He said he has no favorites, but likely would scratch the Cyclones off the list without McDermott & Co.

“I hope they (return) because that would be a big part of my decision,” said Clyburn, who would have two seasons of eligibility. “I’m very close with the coaching staff.”

Phillips is the type of shooting guard ISU desperately needs.

He’s been to several home games and has felt the hurt from seeting the team drop close game after close game.

“Iowa State is really struggling right now,” Phillips said. “The games they are losing are by four or five points. Hopefully I can get on the court and help them get over the hump. I’m pretty exciting about being here next year.”

Cyclone — and proud Canadian — Vanderbeken celebrates hockey gold

March 1, 2010

AMES — Jamie Vanderbeken hasn’t had much to feel good about these last few months.

That changed Sunday when the Belleville, Ontario, native watched Canada beat the United States, 3-2, in overtime of the men’s Olympic hockey final. Vanderbeken, who is being witheld from competition and seeking a medical redshirt for next season because of a variety of injuries, was signing the Canadian national anthem walking off the practice floor Monday morning.

“I’m so proud, especially being around all Americans who don’t know anything about hockey,” he said. “We honestly care.”

Cyclone players were lifting weights Sunday during the gold medal match, and keeping one eye on the TV. 

“When I heard it was 2-2 and they tied it up I almost cried,” Vanderbeken said.

A nation — and an ISU basketball player thousands of miles away — rejoiced when Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal past U.S.  goalie Ryan Miller.

A loss would have been difficult for Canadians to swallow.  

“There would be a lot of depressed people,” Vanderbeken said. “It’s our game. We invented it, we mastered it and we’ve got (gold) again… You (Americans) are getting there.”

Lacey: Future in hoops, U.S. up in the air

February 27, 2010

If Alison Lacey wants to, a career in the WNBA is likely hers

AMES – Rarely is Alison Lacey confused about much of anything relating to basketball.

Except now, as Iowa State’s star senior closes out a decorated career while also trying to decide whether she wants to make a living playing it.

“I don’t know what I want to do,” said Lacey, who came to Iowa and the United States from Canberra, Australia. “Sometimes I want to play. Sometimes I want to go home. Sometimes I want to stay here. It stresses me out so I just don’t think about it.”

One thing that is clear is that Lacey’s play this season has her among some elite company.

The 6-foot point guard is sixth in the Big 12 Conference in scoring (17.5 ppg), first in assists (6.7 apg) and leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3).

Lacey also is shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range and is 11th nationally in free-throw percentage (88.7).

Coach Bill Fennelly said it may be ultimately rank among the greatest single seasons in school history.

She’s been the primary reason why this young Cyclone team is ranked No. 15 nationally with a record of 21-5 overall and 9-4 in the conference entering Saturday’s 7 p.m. game with Kansas State (12-15, 4-9) at Hilton Coliseum.

“She’s having a senior year like you hope every senior has,” Fennelly said, “and probably has put herself in the discussion of one of the best players ever to play here.”

Fennelly has had eight of his players selected in the WNBA Draft.

He thinks Lacey — one of only seven players in Big 12 history to amass 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists — has the best chance of any of them to enjoy a lasting career as a pro.

“She’s the most prepared player that’s ever played here to go to that level,” Fennelly said. “She’s as good as any guard coming out. Her versatility, her skill set, her competitiveness… all those things. We are getting calls from every WNBA team.”

Lacey said she is leaning towards continuing with basketball, provided the injury problems she’s had during her career are minimized.

“It depends how my body feels,” Lacey said. “I feel good right now.”

The question then would be where to play. WNBA? Europe? Both?

“She could go home and be a professional and make a good living for a while and enjoy it,” Fennelly said.

Lacey also could finish her degree this spring and start a life back in Australia. Or stay in the U.S. until she’s ready to return home.

“Sometimes I miss home and miss my family. I haven’t had a summer back there in five years,” Lacey said. “But I’m ready to experience new things so I don’t know if I’m quite ready to go back.”

Fennelly has tried to provide her with reasonable advice.

“What I told her is not to close any doors until you know you are sure,” he said.

 Lacey admits it won’t be easy leaving the country.

“It’s so cheap here. And I love all the food now,” Lacey said. “I’ve grown accustomed to the way of life here. It’s more fast-paced than home. It’s really laid back in Australia. No one is that motivated. People just kind of hang out.”

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.