Posts Tagged ‘Duke’

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.


Double whammy Wednesday for Cyclones

January 7, 2010

It was a tough night for Iowa State basketball fans watching ESPN2 Wednesday night.

Before the Cyclones’ disappointing 86-65 loss to No. 5 Duke at the United Center in Chicago, it was former Cyclone Wesley Johnson continuing to play out of his mind in another impressive Syracuse victory.

Johnson, who played his first two seasons at ISU before curiously deciding he would transfer, had19 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the No. 7-ranked Orange’s 74-57 victory over Memphis. The 6-7, 205-pound forward came into the night averaging 17.1 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 50 percent (23 of 46) from 3-point range.

Bob Knight called the SU-Memphis game for ESPN and had high praise for Johnson, whom he’d seen up close while coaching at Texas Tech.

“This kid can play,” Knight said during the telecast. “There isn’t any facet to the game he isn’t better than average at. Ane he obviously likes to play the game.”

After Johnson was done, the spotlight was on ISU against the Blue Devils. The big stage — and their opponents’ suffocating defense — was a little too much for the Cyclones to handle.

Big man Craig Brackins was in foul trouble and forced several shots, that is, when he could get them.

Duke’s ball pressure didn’t allow for many clean passes to Brackins, who finished with 12 points and just three rebounds.

Too many turnovers (18) and offensive rebounds allowed (??) didn’t help the cause.

ISU heads into its non-conference finale Saturday against North Dakota State with a record of 10-4. Reaching the postseason is not going to be easy for this crew.

Basketball bits before Cyclones vs. Dookies

January 5, 2010

Who knows how full the United Center will be for Wednesday’s 8 p.m. Iowa State-Duke men’s basketball game. The place can hold almost 21,000.

We do know that press row will be full. ISU media relations contact Mike Green said 17 NBA scouts have requested credentials for the game, which is the first-ever meeting between the schools.

“Over half of the league is going to be there,” Green said.

Who are they going to be looking at?

Cyclone big man Craig Brackins is probably pretty high on the list, along with Duke senior Jon Scheyer and juniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. ISU guard/forward Marquis Gilstrap should also garner a look, though he may end up returning to school if the NCAA grants him an extra season of eligibilty. 

AT THE MIC. Dave O’Brien (play-by-play) and Jay Bilas (color) will have the call on ESPN2. Bilas, one of the network’s lead analysts, was a four-year starter for Duke from 1983-86 and later an assistant coach under Coach Mike Krzyzewski from 1990-92.

MISSING IN ACTION. ISU big man Jamie Vanderbeken is questionable at best to play against the Blue Devils.

Vanderbeken has missed four games this season because of various injuries. The latest is a high ankle sprain sustained after slipping on a patch of ice.

The 6-11 senior has missed most of the last month and his return to the lineup is “slow going,” said Coach Greg McDermott. 

“I really feel bad for Jamie,” McDermott said.  “It’s his senior year and you hate to have anybody go through injury after injury after injury.

Before the season even started Vanderbeken was rehabbing a stress fracture in his foot he sustained during tryouts for Great’s Britain’s national team that was competing in the European Championships. Then came a sprained knee late in ISU’s Dec. 2 loss to Northern Iowa.

And now, the ankle.

“We’ve had a hard time working that out,” McDermott said. “He’s better than he’s been. He’s been able to get through most of a couple of practices, but still a long ways from being ready.”

Vanderbeken is averaging 4.6 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 62.5 percent from the field.  ISU’s perimeter shooting has suffered a bit, as Vanderbeken is one of the team’s best 3-point shooters.

Men’s hoops on hiatus till 2010

December 23, 2009

Iowa State’s men’s basketball team has almost two weeks off before playing again Jan. 3 at home against Houston.

The Cyclones are 9-3, with non-conference games still to go against the Cougars, Duke (Jan. 6) and North Dakota State (Jan. 9). They’ve been dominant in their victories, with each of the wins coming by 10 or more points, the most double-digit victories in a season since 2004-05.

Losses to Northwestern and Northern Iowa — NCAA Tournament hopefuls themselves — by a combined five points were disappointing and could count against ISU come March.

Here are some of the highlights, stats and facts from the season so far:

— ISU has scored 80 points or more seven times this season. It happened just once during 2008-09.

— Marquis Gilstrap has lived up to the hype so far with averages of 14.7 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. He’s had five double-doubles and scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games.

— The Cyclones came into Tuesday’s game with North Dakota shooting 44.3 percent from 3-point range, tops in the Big 12 and fourth nationally.

— Lucca Staiger set a new school record and tied for second all-time in Big 12 single-game history with 10 3-pointers in a 90-70 win at Drake.

— The bench is averaging 24.5 points a game, a far cry from depth issues and limited options Coach Greg McDermott has had during his previous three seasons.

— All-Big 12 candidate Craig Brackins is the team’s leading scorer (17.5 ppg) and 3-point shooter (13 of 22; 59.1%) and second-leading rebounder (8.1 rpg) and passer (34 assists).

— Sophomore big man Justin Hamilton is shooting 78.6 percent (22 of 28) on field goals.

Postscript on Harrison Barnes

November 14, 2009

Some Iowa State folks are responding to Harrison Barnes’ decision to attend North Carolina in favor of the hometown Cyclones:

Here’s from women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly via Twitter: TRUE CYCLONE fans need to give OUR team a great response tonite– WORRY about the ones we have who ARE Cyclones!!!!

This was Craig Brackins’ take: The mystery is over…congrats 2 HB on his choice! He is guna be a beast! Now its time 2 focus on the goal…LET’S GO STATE!!!

It doesn’t matter if Clones were second or sixth, at least it shouldn’t.

Bottom line, he’s not walking through that door and ISU fans have to live with it and move on.

In case you didn’t see his announcement live on ESPNU or any number of television or Internet mediums, this is how Barnes summed up each of the five schools he didn’t choose:

Oklahoma: “I really enjoyed my relationship with Coach (Jeff) Capel. He has transformed Oklahoma’s basketball program into a championship contender.”

Kansas: “Coach (Bill) Self has always had my respect for his style of play. His personal approach and demeanor are second to none.”

Duke: “Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski and I have become very close over the last year-and-a-half. Duke has high academics and is just unique in a variety of ways.”

on UCLA: “They have an unbelievable market of core players as well as one of the richest traditions in college basketball. Coach (Ben) Howland’s pursuit of excellence is only matched by Coach Wooden.”

on Iowa State: “I want to extend a special thank you to you, Coach (Greg) McDermott, and your coaching staff, for recruiting me the last tw0-and-a-half years. I am and forever will be a Cyclone fan.”


Barnes was asked if has designs on jumping to the NBA early, like many believe he could and will.

UNC’s highly-ranked business school factored big in Barnes’ decision, along with a program that’s won two national championships in the last five years.

“I will graduate in three years because I want to be on the fast track academically. If the opportunity to go pro arises I will take that as it comes,” Barnes said.

Doookies! Cyclones add to already tough pre-Big 12 slate

June 24, 2009

AMES — Iowa State’s non-conference schedule was going to be tough enough. Add Duke, as the Cyclones have now done, and it’s downright nasty.

— Neutral site games against Duke, two of these three — Saint Louis, Notre Dame or Northwestern. Pairings have not been set.

— Road trips to California, Iowa and Drake.

— Home dates with Houston, Bradley, Northern Iowa and probably North Dakota State.

Keep in mind, Coach Greg McDermott isn’t expecting the sub-.500 teams he’s fielded the last three years. McDermott is thinking postseason, and he’s got the pre-conference schedule to get his team there.

“If you feel you have a team that can handle it, I think that’s the way you have to go,” he said.

The Duke game – set for Jan. 6, 2010, at the United Center in Chicago — came together quickly. Duke wanted a game against a Big 12 team, and ISU was happy to oblige, all things considered.              

It will be the Cyclones’ last game prior to the start of league play.

“As we researched our schedule and what we had in place…it looked like something that at this point in the development of our program would be good for us,” McDermott said.

National exposure? Check. The game will go to a national ESPN audience.

Recruiting exposure? Check. It will be the team’s second trip into Chicago following November games at the Sears Centre just outside Chicago in suburban Hoffman Estates.

With second-year assistant coach Daniyal Robinson digging into the Chicago area for players, playing in front of them is a very good thing. Don’t forget freshman guard Chris Colvin, a Robinson recruit, won an Illinois state title in March for Whitney Young High School.

“It can do nothing but help recruiting,” McDermott said.

An increased profile? Check. Iowa State hasn’t been a national name since March of 2005, when the Cyclones reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year’s team could make the program relevant again outside the state and Big 12 circles.

Forward Craig Brackins is sure to be a Wooden Award candidate and probably a preseason All-American. He’s a star and ISU should promote him accordingly.

Add some buzz to the season? Check. Especially for those who like road trips or alums that live around Chicago, which there apparently are many. Close to 10,000, in fact.

Iowa State and Duke have never played one another.

“The Cyclone alumni base in Chicago is our second largest and we expect a big turnout,” Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said.

Can Iowa State beat the Blue Devils, one of college basketball’s elite programs of the last 30 years?

Duke went 30-7 a season ago, won the ACC tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. They lose star player Gerald Henderson, who Thursday will became a first-round NBA Draft pick, but still return a lot.

They add a pair of blue-chippers in big men Ryan Kelly (6-10) and Mason Plumlee (6-11), who figure to be in the rotation by the time Duke and Iowa State square off.    

“They’ve got very good players,” McDermott said.

Win or lose, Iowa State is coming out ahead. 

The better question is, will Dick (or as some like to tag him, Duke) Vitale finally call an ISU game?

How sweet…Fennelly lets his guard down

March 25, 2009

This one was special. Bill Fennelly didn’t have to say it.

His face told us so.

So did the emphatic fist pump as Iowa State was breaking free late from gritty No. 12 seed Ball State, and into its first Sweet 16 since 2001.

Fennelly, normally stoic and ultra composed, flashed a smile and a rare display of exuberance. And as those of us who’ve followed his Cyclones for the last several years can attest, his pearly whites don’t show themselves very often when there’s time still on the clock.

His beloved senior class — with four-year players Heather Ezell, Nicky Wieben and Amanda Nisleit — will play on. It is ISU’s fourth trip to the Sweet 16 in Fennelly’s 14 seasons as head coach. 

The man understands and appreciates the moment more than most coaches. He knows how difficult it is to break through to the Regional portion of the NCAA tournament.

This team, after two previous second-round exits, got what it deserved.

But ISU’s 71-57 win over the Cardinals did not come easy.

We all expected Tennessee to be waiting in the second round. It would have been easy for the No. 4 seeded Cyclones to let down, thinking the Fighting Lettermans were in over their heads in their first-ever trip to the NCAAs.

No way they can get up for another massive upset after embarrassing the defending champ Lady Vols, right?

ISU sucked it up, adjusted to how it was being defended, played tough defense of its own and hit free throws down the stretch.

“When we were in the huddle with about four minutes left, Coach Fennelly said that we’ve been up seven (points) five or six times and we’re either going to the Sweet 16 or we’re not,” said sophomore Kelsey Bolte, who had 16 points and hit 5 3-pointers. “I think we all put our foot down and played with a lot of aggression and passion and heart.”

ISU (26-8) plays No. 9 seed Michigan State Saturday night in Berkeley, Calif., one win shy of tying the school record for wins.

The contest tips off at 8 p.m. Iowa time.

The Spartans shocked top-seeded Duke Tuesday night, which surely didn’t upset ISU players and coaches once they learned of that little fact.

What a night. Fennelly should still be smiling.