Posts Tagged ‘Diante Garrett’

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.

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.

Snowstorm strands Cyclones in Windy City

January 7, 2010

Iowa State’s men’s basketball team is stuck in the downtown Marriott hotel in Chicago today, thanks to a huge winter storm that’s making travel difficult in the city and in much of the Midwest.

Five to 10 inches of snow is set to fall in the Chicago area tonight and into Friday.

The Cyclones, hammered by fifth-ranked Duke, 86-65, Wednesday night at the United Center, are scheduled to play North Dakota State at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum in their non-conference finale.

The team’s bus won’t be starting up till tomorrow, at the earliest, which could put the NDSU game in peril.

“Our hope is that this lets up and we can get out of here sometime tomorrow,” Coach Greg McDermott said Thursday during the Big 12 coaches’ conference call. “Our plan will be that whenever this weather breaks to get on the road and at least get back. I’m not sure what the weather is like back in Iowa but it’s not great here in Chicago.”

Ames was hit with about six inches of snow Wednesday.

Forecasters in Chicago predict the heaviest snow will come tonight and tomorrow morning, which is when the winds will pick up and make travel even more difficult.

Players were left to occupy themselves in their hotel rooms.

Point guard Diante Garrett posted on his Twitter account that he was watching TV and watching teammate Lucca Staiger do sit-ups. McDermott said the team is will not be able to practice today.

“We’ll get the guys out of the hotel and maybe go across the street to a movie or something and then tonight we’ll watch some film both of last night and of North Dakota State,” McDermott said. “Hopefully at some point in time tomorrow we get back on the practice floor.”

Duke’s team flew out late Wednesday night after the game and apparently reached home safely.

Two games in, Cyclone men showing big promise

November 16, 2009

There’s a lot to be excited about if you’ve seen or read about the start to Iowa State’s men’s basketball team.

Coach Greg McDermott is onto something here.  He’s finally got an abundance of talent and is figuring out how best to deploy it. This group still is very much a work in progress, but you can see there is athleticism, skill and depth to build on.

Decisive wins over Idaho State (88-68) and Chicago State (72-50) — while not unexpected — showed some of what this team has to offer.

The numbers are already taking shape:

— 80 points per game

— Field goal percentage of 48.3

— 3-point field goal percentage of 51.6 (16 of 31)

— Eleven players averaging 9 minutes a game or more

All-Big 12 Conference forward Craig Brackins is averaging 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, well below his averages from a season ago.  He’s cool with that.

“As long as we win I don’t care,” Brackins said.

Transfer Marquis Gilstrap shrugged off a bad start Sunday night against Chicago State to finish with 11 points and 15 rebounds, six on the offensive end.

Another first-year player, LaRon Dendy, had 16 points and 7 rebounds in his Cyclone debut agianst Idaho State, then injured his knee in practice the following day and will sit out the next two weeks.

Point guard Diante Garrett has 12 assists and just two turnovers so far. Against Idaho State Garrett had seven assists, no points and no turnovers. McDermott was thrilled.

“If that’s not a sign of that progress he’s made in two years of how to run a team and how to play the point guard position… he’s really grown as a point guard,” he said.

What’s very encouraging going into Tuesday night’s game at Drake is the scoring efficiency of ISU’s reserves.

Dendy, Scott Christopherson, Charles Boozer and Jamie Vanderbeken are a combined 23 of 32 (71.9 percent)from the field. Nine of their 12 shots from 3-point distance have been good.

Cyclones tabbed for 8th in Big 12 preseason poll

October 14, 2009

Big 12 Conference coaches picked Iowa State to finish eighth in the league this season, the highest predicted finish for the Cyclones during Greg McDermott’s coaching tenure.

There are reasons — good ones, at that — to believe ISU will live up to that expectation and maybe exceed it.

Forward Craig Brackins returned for his junior season and is an All-America candidate. Big things are anticipated out of newcomers Marquis Gilstrap, Chris Colvin and LaRon Dendy.

Gilstrap was recently chosen at the league’s preseason newcomer of the year.

And then there’s experienced returnees in Diante Garrett, Lucca Staiger and Jamie Vanderbeken.

Fans are excited. They should be. Postseason basketball is a realistic goal for this team.

Media day for the ISU men is tomorrow (Thursday). There will be lots to talk about.

Kansas was the overwhelming choice to finish as league champion, with 11 of the 12 first-place vote. Texas got Jayhawks coach Bill Self’s vote. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their team.

Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas A&M round out the top five.

The remaining order goes like this: Oklahoma State, Missouri, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Nebraska and Colorado.

Competition already hot for Cyclone guards

July 7, 2009

You won’t see Dominique Buckley – or any other Iowa State guard – wasting away their summer by the pool or on the couch playing video games.

Too much is at stake.  If he wants to see the court next season, Buckley needs to take advantage of every waking moment.

“It’s a whole new atmosphere from last year to this year,” said Buckley, who played in 25 games last season as a freshman, averaging 1.3 points and 0.8 assists. “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody wants to sit on the bench. We all want to play and we all want to win games.”

The Cyclones finally have some depth in the backcourt with two-year starter Diante Garrett, starting shooting guard Lucca Staiger, junior Charles Boozer, Buckley, Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson and touted freshman Chris Colvin.

Competition for playing time will be fierce, and already is this summer during workouts, pickup ball and Capital City League games.

“We are in a position as a coaching staff where we have some choices to make,” said Coach Greg McDermott. “Who ends up separating themselves from that group is going to be up to them.”

Buckley has spent all but one week this spring and summer on campus.

The Detroit native has been taking summer classes and improving his skills. Jumping rope, defensive slides, balance, running, shooting, ball-handling – he’s done it all in working on his overall game.

“I really don’t have anything else to do except sleep, eat and go to class I might as well work on it when I can,” Buckley said. “Summer is a time to get better.”

The 6-2, 205-pound sophomore had a slow start to his first season, then earned his way into the rotation by season’s end.

Buckley has played well since season’s end and clearly is improved.

“I’ve been very pleased with his development,” McDermott said.

Garrett has focused his offseason work in the weight room. He came to ISU as a 160-pound freshman and now is just under 185. His goal is to tip the scales at over 190 pounds.

The point guard is at his best getting into the lane and creating offense for himself and others off the dribble.

“I’ve been in the weight room all summer. I’m getting a lot stronger,” Garrett said. “I think that will help out even more than getting in the gym and getting 1,000 jumps shots up a day.”

Staiger returns as the Cyclones’ leader in 3-pointers made last year.

Boozer provides an energy boost off the bench with his defense and hustle.    

Christopherson looks to be a well-rounded player with toughness and scoring ability.

Colvin is a talented prospect with good all-around skills that could work at either guard spot.  

This will be McDermott’s deepest ISU team yet, which means playing time will be well-deserved – at every position.

“Everyone wants to play. Unfortunately there are only five guys that step on the court,” Colvin said.

Colvin expecting big things for freshman season

July 2, 2009

Chris Colvin isn’t shy about sharing his great expectations for his first season at Iowa State, which has the look of its best of the Greg McDermott era.

“I’m trying to win some of these games, that way we can make it to the (NCAA) tournament or even try and win the Big 12. Those are my goals,” said Colvin, who has some expectations of his own to live up to as a top-100 recruit nationally.

Colvin helped win an Illinois state championship for Whitney Young H.S., one of the nation’s most prominent programs.

The Chicago native averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 assists as a senior. He figures to play a good amount in what will be a crowded backcourt with two-year starter Diante Garrett back, along with returners Lucca Staiger, Dominique Buckley, Charles Boozer and Scott Christopherson, the Marquette transfer who sat out last season.        

“As a freshman I’m coming in trying to have an impact on our team and an impact on our league,” Colvin said. “Everyone wants to play. Unfortunately there are only five guys that step on the court.”

The 6-2, 195-pounder is an upgrade athletically. Could he even crack the starting lineup?

“It’s a goal for me but I’m not too worried about it,” Colvin said. “I think I can start in the Big 12.”

McDermott has waited three years for a collection of incoming players like he now has in Colvin Marquis Gilstrap, LaRon Dendy and Antwon Oliver.

Add that to what ISU has returning and Colvin may be right on with how successful his new team will be.           

“Craig (Brackins) coming back, that was a big piece to the puzzle,” he said. “Adding Marquis, me and LaRon and Antwon… that should help us get over the top this year, along with the guys that we already have got.

“I know we are going to have a great season this year. Hopefully we can go do something big.”

New Cyclone Gilstrap ready to live up to the hype

June 30, 2009

WEST DES MOINES – Considering some of the maneuvers Marquis Gilstrap pulled off with legs at less than full strength, Iowa State basketball fans are in for a serious high-wire act this season.

Gilstrap showed off his leaping ability Sunday during at the YMCA Capital City League. Rebounds, blocked shots, tip dunks… the Cyclone newcomer was above the rim on several occasions.

“That’s off of two legs,” Gilstrap said. “Off of one I can’t do it that well.”

Umm, really? The signee from Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College still is strengthening the muscles in his left leg. An injury to his patellar tendon forced Gilstrap to miss two full years of basketball before a monster return last season at GCCC.

He has athleticism and leaping ability no one on ISU’s roster can match.

“I love playing with him,” said guard Dominique Buckley, a summer league teammate of Gilstrap’s. “You throw the ball up anywhere and he’ll get it.”

Gilstrap averaged 22.6 points and 10.1 rebounds, and was rated at the No. 2 junior college player in the nation by ESPN.com.

He has only season to play, but could be awarded another if ISU petitions the NCAA for a medical hardship.

Cyclone fans have massive expectations for the 6-6, 210-pound forward, believing he may be the missing piece to a return to prominence in the Big 12 Conference.

“I take it as a challenge. I think my game is good enough that I can handle it,” Gilstrap said.

He’s proven he can hit from 3-point range – 52 of 127 for 40.9 percent at GCCC – and he’s becoming more comfortable in the weight room thanks to ISU’s strength coach Andy Moser.

“I’m pretty much used to it,” said Gilstrap, who will wear the No. 3 at ISU. “I haven’t lifted much in the past.”

Presently, he’s impressing his new teammates with his array of skills.

“He’s a great player,” said junior guard Diante Garrett. “He’s strong. His game is more mature than most of us. I think he’s going to be ready.”

Coach Greg McDermott sees great potential in his prized recruit.

“Now he’s got to overcome this next level of adjustment,” he said. “There’s a big difference between where he played last year and what he’s going to be asked to do… The work ethic and passion is there. It’s a matter of putting it all together.”

Same goes for the team.

The Cyclones have a potential all-America forward, experienced guards, talented newcomers and quality depth. ISU’s postseason drought is at four years and counting.

Most everybody expects that to end.

“We’ve got a real good team,” Gilstrap said. “We are going to be really good I think.”

One and done, what now?

March 12, 2009

Iowa State’s men’s basketball season ended Wednesday night in Oklahoma City with a 81-67 loss to Oklahoma State at the Big 12 Tournament.

Few in Cyclone Nation were surprised or, quite frankly, disappointed.

Spring football practice begins March 24. The women’s basketball team is ranked in the top 20 and headed for another NCAA Tournament. ISU’s wrestling team qualified all 10 wrestlers for next week’s national championships. 

There are things to look forward to in Ames.

The Cyclones were playing out the string, building for a 2009-10 season that hopefully includes star forward Craig Brackins. 

The Cyclones finished 15-17 overall, Coach Greg McDermott’s third straight season missing out on postseason play, and were 4-12 in league play.

There’s work to do be done, quite obviously.

Athleticism, consistency, late-game execution — all need major upgrades. Pieces are there for McDermott, who returns everybody but seniors Alex Thompson, Sean Haluska and Bryan Petersen.

Fine people and solid players they are. Program-turning talents they are not.

Iowa State has reason to think next year will better.

Brackins has to realize he’d benefit by waiting another year to jump to the NBA, junior college transfer Marquis Gilstrap has to live up to the hype, Diante Garrett must be able to produce every game out and Chris Colvin has to be ready to play immediately.

Lucca Staiger and Jamie Vanderbeken proved they can be offensive weapons.

Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson should be a factor, judging by his work during practice while he sat out the season. 

Justin Hamilton needs to keep improving but has a nice upside.

ISU’s prospects for next year hinge on Brackins, who would be silly not to at least go through NBA workouts to see where teams are telling him he stacks up with the rest of the draft class.

He can still return if he doesn’t hire an agent.

That’s the postseason storyline we’ll all be following. In the meantime, enjoy the wrestling, Cyclone women’s hoops and spring football updates.

Iowa State’s scholarship breakdown for ’09-10, assuming there are no changes

Seniors: F Jamie Vanderbeken, G/F Marquis Gilstrap

Juniors: F Craig Brackins, G Diante Garrett, G Charles Boozer, G Lucca Staiger

Sophomores: G Justin Hamilton, G Wes Eikmeier, G Dominique Buckley, G Scott Christopherson, G Clinton Mann

Freshmen: F L.A. Pomlee, G Chris Colvin

ISU hoops… what if?

February 26, 2009

Hypotheticals have never really interested me, but let’s think for a minute what might have been with Iowa State’s basketball team.

Humor me here, folks.

The Cyclones are 14-14 overall, 3-10 in the Big 12 heading into Saturday’s game at Texas A&M.

Where would ISU be sitting right now with Wesley Johnson playing the small forward spot? It’s a question I’ve had posed to me numerous times this year.

Is the former standout — who currently sitting out the season at Syracuse waiting to be eligible — the difference between ISU’s season ending after the conference tourney in a few weeks or earning an NIT berth? 

Is an NCAA bid out of the question? I don’t think it is.

A handful of players still keep in contact with Johnson, exchanging text messages and the like. Guard Diante Garrett says he’s caught glimpses of the 6-7 forward on the Orange bench during TV broadcasts. 

But Garrett and his teammates aren’t sitting around lamenting Johnson’s loss in the midst of a disappointing season.

“I just left that in the past. I don’t think about it that much,” Garrett said.

“You can if you want to, but what’s the point,” said guard Bryan Petersen. “Yeah, he was a really talented player and I’m not going to sit here and say he wouldn’t have helped if he was on our team. He probably would have. But you can’t do that. He’s not here and he’s not coming back.”

The talented forward curiously skipping town last May, claiming he and coach Greg McDermott had a falling out. McDermott was surprised to hear of this, to say the least.

I don’t think there’s any question this team would be markedly better with Johnson wearing cardinal and gold (or whatever colors they are).

How much better? That’s up for debate.

I believe he probably gives ISU a half-dozen more victories, which has the program right on the cusp of a postseason berth that it hasn’t had since making the NCAA Tournament during the 2004-05 season.

The Cyclones don’t have an athletic wing player like Johnson, who can score from inside and out, defend and rebound the ball amongst the trees.

They will next season in Marquis Gilstrap, a transfer from Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College.

That doesn’t help the here and now. Johnson would have been a junior.

His absence has been helpful for players like Garrett, Craig Brackins, Lucca Staiger and Charles Boozer. Boozer has seen the floor far more than he would have if Johnson were here, and done good things.

Garrett and Brackins, both just sophomores, accepted leadership roles as two of the most experienced players on a team made up primarily of freshmen and sophomores.

“It’s given some of these young guys a chance to step up,” Petersen said.

McDermott’s endured some difficult losses in his three seasons as head coach. He saw his top returning player leave the program in consecutive years and may have it happen again if Brackins decides to forgo his final two years of eligibility in favor of the NBA.

And we’ll again be left to wonder, what if?