Posts Tagged ‘Hilton Coliseum’

Prime time TV good for exposure, bad for fans

March 19, 2010

Late Night at Hilton Coliseum

AMES – Hilton Coliseum and Iowa State’s women’s basketball team will get great national exposure and face time Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cyclones’ late start – set by cable network ESPN, which holds the event’s broadcast rights – isn’t so great for those who have purchased tickets or are thinking of doing so.  Fourth-seeded ISU (23-7) will tip off its first-round game with No. 13 Lehigh (29-3) just shy of 9 p.m. local time.

That’s assuming the first game of the night on ESPN2 between No. 5 Virginia (21-9) and No. 12 Green Bay (27-4) doesn’t go long.

For adults getting to work the following day and kids coming back to school off spring break, schedules are going to be thrown for a loop.

Sunday’s winners will also play late. Tip off Tuesday is set for 8:30 p.m.

“It’s good from a television perspective,” said Callie Sanders, ISU’s Senior Associate Athletic Director and the site’s tournament director. “It’s not ideal from a fan perspective, but it’s not something we can control. We understand it is going to be more difficult. We hope the fans will appreciate the opportunity to see the games in person regardless.”

Game times were known in advance, then cemented when the pairings were determined.

Several thousand all-session ticket packages were purchased in advance and more have sold since Monday’s selection show.

More than 5,000 have been snatched up thus far.

“(The game time) hasn’t slowed our fans down,” Sanders said.  “We sold quite a few all-session as the season progressed and fans saw we were more likely to be in.”

The Cyclones have made the tournament field four years running and in 11 of Coach Bill Fennelly’s 14 seasons.

They played at home in first- and second-round games for five straight years from 1998-2002 when hosting duties went to the teams seeded fourth or better.

ISU, which is 8-2 in NCAA games at Hilton, also served as the host school in 2008 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

“It’s worth it,” Sanders said. “The only downside is the additional pressure it puts on the coaching staff they feel to get into the tournament. We go into these bids knowing our team might not be in it.”

Fennelly talked regularly this season about the need to get the Cyclones to the dance.

ISU lost five seniors and a key reserve off last year’s Elite Eight team and had a lot of questions going in. It ended up finishing second in the Big 12 Conference and earned the reward of playing at home in the postseason.

“It gives you something more to play for,” Sanders said.

“Bill is always motivated to make the tournament. That is a goal of his every year. Given the fact he had a pretty young team and some uncertainty early on… whatever he did it worked.”

The other three teams were scheduled to arrive in Ames Friday.

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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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

Welle’s jersey will hang from Hilton rafters

February 10, 2010

AMES — Angie Welle will be the fourth Iowa State women’s basketball player to have her jersey retired.

Welle, the school’s career scoring and rebounding leader, is joining former teammate Megan Taylor, along with Tonya Burns and Jayme Olson, in the Hilton Coliseum rafters.  The ceremony will Feb. 20 when ISU plays host to Missouri.

The weekend’s festivities also will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Cyclones’ first Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament championships.

Welle statistically may be the most dominant player in program history. That translated into quite a successful stretch for ISU, which went 103-29 during her four seasons.

“When you really look at her statistical numbers — how she impacted the success of our program and our attendance — it almost defies belief,” Coach Bill Fennelly said.

During Welle’s four-year career (1999-2002), ISU made four NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight finish and two Sweet Sixteens. The Cyclones also won two Big 12 Conference Tournament championships and a regular season title.

Individually, Welle closed out her career owning multiple career and single-season scoring, shooting and rebounding records. The Fargo, N.D., native still holds the Big 12 record for career field goal percentage and is ISU’s only player with 2,o00 or more points (2,149) and 1,000 or more rebounds (1,209).

Recruits hoping for big finish to Cyclones’ season

February 10, 2010

Two recruits already in the fold for Iowa State had front row seats at Hilton Coliseum last Saturday for the Cyclones’ 79-75 loss to No. 10-ranked Kansas State.

ISU’s disappointing season (13-10 overall, 2-6 Big 12) that started with NCAA Tournament dreams isn’t souring their feelings about coming to campus or the future health of the program.  Brewster (N.H.) Academy’s Melvin Ejim and Marshalltown Community College guard DeMarcus Phillips are hoping the current group can carry some positive momentum forward.

“Hopefully they start playing better and start getting some W’s,” Ejim said.

Phillips, who has been out of action since Jan. 1 because of a broken bone in his arm, has seen several games in person this season and keeps in contact with a lot of the players.

It’s not been an easy stretch for them. ISU plays Wednesday night at Missouri.

“They been struggling,” Phillips said. “They started off fast. The last few games have been rough. They’ll get it back together though.”

Both guards believe they have skills that can be of immediate help.

Phillips said he was leading the conference in scoring before having to have screws inserted below his right wrist. He’s hoping to return to the lineup very soon.

“I can be a big help at the 1 or 2 guard,” Phillips said. “I can help on defense. I can hit the jumper and make plays when they need it. I think I fit in pretty well with this Iowa State team…We’ll get back to the top of the Big 12 hopefully.”

The 6-6, 205-pound Ejim also has high hopes for himself.

“My jump shot is better and I’ve been working on my handle,” Ejim said. “I’m coming along as a player. Hopefully I come in and really play a lot and play well. I’m the type of player that with my intensity I can help bring up this team.”

Ejim signed his letter of intent back in November, but was finally taking his official visit.

It was the second time he’s been inside Hilton for a game.

“It doesn’t get any better,” Ejim said. “The amount of people that are here all the time and the support…it’s going to be a crazy place to play. I’m excited.”

Beaverton, Ore., center Jordan Railey will join ISU’s recruiting class in the spring. There could be more depending on Craig Brackins’ NBA decision and Marquis Gilstrap’s luck in asking the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility.

“There will be a whole lot of talent here,” Phillips said.

Has he tried to convince Brackins to stay for his senior season?

“When I asked him about it he just laughed it off,” Phillips said. “It’ll be exciting to see what he does. I hope he does (stay).”

K-State coach praises Cyclones, McDermott

February 7, 2010

Kansas State coach Frank Martin showed some empathy for Iowa State and hard-luck coach Greg McDermott Saturday during his post-game remarks to reporters.

He also piled on departed Cyclone guard Lucca Staiger, who last month abruptly left the team to pursue a professional career in his native Germany.

K-State won its eighth straight game in the series and fourth straight at Hilton Coliseum with its 79-75 victory.

Martin has his team rolling at 19-4 overall and 6-3 in the Big 12. He recognizes the significance of a win in Ames, even against an undermanned ISU team with just eight scholarship players.

Martin was much more calm after Saturday's win over ISU. Really.

“These arenas are so hard to play in. Fans here at Iowa State are great and they have a good basketball team,” Martin said. “My heart goes out to Greg and those kids because to deal with the injuries to (Jamie) Vanderbeken and (Charles) Boozer and then to turn around and have some selfish guy quit on his team, and for them to still be playing as hard as they are is a credit to their team and coaching staff. I think Iowa State is going to win a bunch of games here.”

ISU fans may have only nine more games to watch big man Craig Brackins.

The junior forward is likely to leave early for the NBA after flirting with the idea last offseason. Brackins had his 26th career double-double Saturday against K-State, scoring 29 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

After a frustrating start to conference play, he’s looking more like the player who earned first-team all-Big 12 honors a season ago.

“He’s quick and he’s a great shooter,” KSU forward Curtis Kelly said. “I didn’t know he was that good of a shooter because I’ve never played him before. You really have to pressure him. If he gets one sight of the rim it is going in.”

ISU having “Pink Out” Sat. vs. K-State

February 1, 2010

 

Here's what Craig Brackins will be wearing

Iowa State’s men’s basketball team will be wearing pink shoes and jerseys with pink lettering during Saturday’s game at Hilton Coliseum with No. 10-ranked Kansas State in support of breast cancer awareness.

ISU is one of four schools nationally – Brigham Young, Illinois and Oregon – the Nike has outfitted with the specially-made uniforms. Students in Cyclone Alley will be wearing pink shirts and the general public is encouraged to wear pink clothing to help make it a “Pink Out” crowd for the ESPN2 national audience.

Coach Greg McDermott’s wife, Theresa, and graduate assistant Bryan Petersen’s mother, Karen, are breast cancer survivors.

“Nike is very aware of Theresa’s battle with breast cancer,” McDermott said. “She is doing well and that’s great. Part of the reason she is doing great is because hers was detected early. That’s really what this is about. It’s about awareness. It’s about people understanding that you just can’t forget what you are supposed to do. You have to be proactive with your health. If in some small way this helps, it’s a small price for us to pay.

“Our guys were all fired up about wearing them. They are happy to be on board with this and hopefually we can get as many fans as possible wearing pink.”

The McDermotts annually participate in “Hoops for Hope,” a fund-raising event benefitting the American Cancer Society. Coaches from Iowa’s three Division I schools some others from other college basketball programs participate each year.

Cyclone wbb making reservations at the Hilton

January 29, 2010

AMES — Bill Fennelly is breathing a little easier these days.

Barring an utter collapse or the swine flu infecting a half-dozen players, Iowa State (16-3, 4-2 Big 12) has to feel awfully good about its chances of playing at Hilton Coliseum in late March and putting fannies in the seats.

Hilton is one of 16 sites for first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games.

The Cyclones’ 63-56 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma (14-5, 4-2) on Wednesday only enhances their postseason resume that also includes a win at No. 19 Texas.

After an 0-2 start in the league, ISU has ripped off four straight victories and is finally seeing the balance the coach had hoped would be there by this point in the season.

That was evident agianst the Sooners.

Reserves combined for 14 points and 15 rebounds. Freshman Jessica Schroll ripped down 11 big rebounds and scored four points. Amanda Zimmerman added six points and Whitney Williams scored three and had a key assist to Kelsey Bolte late in the game.

“It’s the best our bench has played in a long time,” Fennelly said. “It was outstanding.”

Schroll responded well to being benched and berated after drawing a technical foul against Texas. Fennelly chewed her out, sat her at the end of the bench and did not play her the rest of the game.

The 5-11 guard got herself out of the doghouse and logged a career-high 32 minutes against OU.

“She came out and played with the energy and effort that this team needed,” Fennelly said. “That showed a lot of maturity on her part and I’m very proud of her for doing that. Most young people would not have acted that way considering what she’s gone through the last three days.

“She has obviously been raised right and coached right by other people.”

Lacey has played at an all-Big 12 level all season. Bolte is finally coming around in league games and asserting herself offensively.

The newcomers are fitting in and proving they can perform in crunch time. 

“I hope what is says is that our players are understanding and embracing the process,” Fennelly said. “Defensively we’ve been good most of the year. Now we are getting just enough scoring at just the right time. We are taking care of the ball and we have a great point guard.”

ISU plays at Kansas State Sunday.