Posts Tagged ‘Kansas’

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.


Men’s hoops news and notes

January 26, 2010

AMES — Marquis Gilstrap is scheduled to rejoin the team Tuesday night in Oklahoma following his uncle’s funeral back home in Georgia.

Gilstrap left Ames Monday morning. He’ll participate in Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the Lloyd Noble Center prior to Iowa State’s 8 p.m. game against Oklahoma.

Hopefully the Cyclones’ leading scorer (18 ppg) and rebounder (12.3)  in Big 12 Conference play won’t show much rust and a lack of preparedness for the scouting report. Gilstrap was withheld from Sunday’s practice because of a sore knee.

“These couple days might be good for him to get a little bit of rest,” said Coach Greg McDermott. “He’s got an understanding of what we are doing. He’ll be fine.”


A victory tonight over the Sooners  would be reason for celebration in more ways than one.

No Iowa State team has won in Norman since Valentine’s Day 1996, a 70-58 victory. The Cyclone men have lost six straight at OU and 16 consecutive regular-season games in the state of Oklahoma counting in games at Oklahoma State.


With just eight scholarship guys, ISU players are having to settle into roles they are not entirely familiar with.

Sophomore Dominique Buckley is one of three point guards on the active roster. Buckley is having to play the off guard spot with Lucca Staiger and Charles Boozer unavailable.

It’s been an adjustment, to say the least.

“That’s not something he’s practiced at any time over the last year-and-a-half because we’ve had enough depth. He’s going to have to play there the rest of the season.”

Scott Christopherson will start his third game since Staiger’s shocking decision to leave the team.

Like Gilstrap, Christopherson also missed practice Sunday because of an illness. He’s carrying a heavy load for McDermott on both ends of the floor.

“We are asking a lot of Scott,” he said. “He’s got to guard (Kansas’) Sherron Collins, but I expect him to score. He’ll guard (Oklahoma’s) Willie Warren, and I need him to score some points. It would be nice if there was enough offense around him that we wouldn’t have to rely on him heavily.”


ISU has now seen them both up close. Which team is better, Kansas or Texas?

“They are both really talented and both very deep,” McDermott said.

The Big 12 heavyweights meet up Feb. 8 in an ESPN Big Monday game. The No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (19-1) beat up on Missouri last night, winning 84-65 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas (17-2) fell to No. 6 in the Associated Press poll after losses last week to Kansas State and Connecticut.

“It’s going to be a heck of a game,” McDermott said. “They are both athletic, they both can score on the inside, they both have solid point guard play. Both are very deserving of a top-10 ranking.”

ESPN’s Fraschilla on Cyclone hoops, Staiger

January 25, 2010

Chatted with ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla before Saturday’s game between Iowa State and Kansas at Hilton Coliseum.

Fraschilla, always fair and informed with his commentary, had some revealing things to say about Coach Greg McDermott and the Cyclone basketball program.

Success at the high major level is difficult to attain — and maintain.

“If you are not at Kansas, Kentucky, Carolina, Syracuse, Duke and maybe three or four other programs you are living day to day in college basketball,” Fraschilla said. “It is just the way it is.”

ISU’s is program that grew accustomed to postseason basketball be it the NCAAs or NIT. It hasn’t sniffed either in McDermott’s three-plus seasons, for a variety of reasons that have some starting to wonder how much of the player turnover and below-average records is in indictment of the head coach.

With the roster shuffle that’s gone on the last three weeks and ISU down to eight scholarship players reaching those NCAA goals will require a lot of things to go their way. 

The Cyclones are 12-7 overall and 1-3 in the Big 12 going into Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma.

Enough of me. Here’s more of what Fraschilla had to say:

On Lucca Staiger’s decision to quit the team:

“For a guy to leave you in the middle of the season is unconscionable. I know Europeand baektbalt maybe as well as anybody who follows baskebtall in the States. For that kid to leave like he did for basically a prorated $100,000 contract..he could’ve gotten that contract in May or June. He could have. The simple fact is where he is an average player in the Big 12, he is considered one of their top young players. That tells you all you need to know about the level of German basketball.”

On another high-profile player suddenly leaving the program:

“We all know Wes Johnson’s family shopped him to Kentucky and a bunch of other schools around the country. It’s worked out for him and good for him. I definitely don’t buy that there wasn’t a great relationship. I think that was an excuse for his family to be able to get him out of here to a higher profile program. Iowa State is not considered basketball royalty. A kid gets a chance to leave and go to Syracuse or Kentucky, and has a family member that talks him into it, what can you do? There’s nothing you can do about it… If you put Wes Johnson on the floor with these guys and minimize some of the injuries they’ve have, they easily could have been a top-15 team. That’s what i mean by bad breaks.”

On McDermott and his difficulties building a winner:

“I know if you talk to other coaches in the Big 12, every one thinks that Greg is a tremendous coach who has had horrible luck. Now, when does that luck run out? That’s up to Iowa State to determine. I know from watching his teams at Northern Iowa and watching how he prepares his teams here that he is a very, very good coach. I went through this at New Mexico with bad luck. I went from being a genius in New York to a guy in Albuquerque who people thought should be parking cars. I understand how it works. It’s easy for fans and media to get down on you.  That’s the way things work, but I know he is a good basketball coach.”

Top-ranked Texas coming to Hiton

January 11, 2010

AMES — When Texas comes to town Wednesday it will become the first No. 1 ranked team to play at Hilton Coliseum in 13 seasons.

The Longhorns (15-0) moved up a spot Monday in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after previous No. 1 Kansas lost Sunday at Tennessee. KU, who is on the home schedule Jan. 23, dropped to No. 3.

Kentucky — the nation’s only other unbeaten — is ranked second.

“We knew we were going to play either No. 1 or No. 2 at one point. Now it is sooner rather than later,” ISU forward Craig Brackins said Monday after practice.

A No. 1-ranked team last visited Hilton Coliseum back on Feb. 9, 1997, when top-ranked Kanasas beat sixth-ranked ISU, 69-62, on a day when Dedric Willoughby set a school record with nine 3-pointers.

The last time ISU played a No. 1-ranked team? …It was Feb. 18, 2002, a lopsided 102-66 loss at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse.

The last time ISU defeated a No. 1-ranked team? …It has happened, though only once in 15 tries. The Cyclones stunned top-ranked and their star Wilt Chamberlain back on Jan. 14, 1957, ISU’s Don Medsker hit a shot at the buzzer for a 39-37 victory at the Armory in Ames. 

A win Wednesday would mark Coach Greg McDermott’s first victory over a ranked team in 16 tries.

ISU’s students are back in town. The place should be rocking, hoping to see the first-ever win over a No. 1 team in five tries at Hilton Coliseum.

“There will be a lot of excitment. Being able to play that (good) of a team is a lot of fun,” said forward Justin Hamilton, who is expected to be in the starting lineup again after concussion-like symptoms forced him to sit out Saturday’s win over North Dakota State.

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.

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.

A year later, KU collapse still haunts Cyclones

October 7, 2009

This week’s meeting with Kansas is bringing to the surface all the bad feelings Iowa State players have tried to bury since last year’s painful home loss.

Up 20-0 at half. All the momentum. Offense clicking. Defense forcing turnovers. Get the ball to start the second half.

Didn’t matter.

By the 4 1/2-minute mark of the third quarter, the suddenly unstoppable Jayhawks grabbed the lead for good and sucked the life right out of Jack Trice Stadium in what was the first of ISU’s eight Big 12 Conference losses.

Kansas 35, Iowa State 33.

“We didn’t change anything (at halftime),” said nose guard Nate Frere. “We just didn’t show up the second half. It’s one of those blunders that you can’t really explain.”

The Cyclones fought back in final minutes, scoring with 1:15 to play and recovering the onsides kick that followed. But they didn’t move the ball an inch. Austen Arnaud threw four straight incompletions and players and coaches were kicking themselves all the way back to the locker room.

Upset alert turned into an awfully good comeback win by quarterback Todd Reesing and KU.

“We knew they were going to come out and their coach was going to have them fired up,” said offensive lineman Ben Lamaak. “We didn’t step on their throat when we had the opportunity.”

There was a similarly empty feeling after last Saturday’s 24-23 loss to Kansas State at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. ISU had the lead, had chances to extend the lead, finished strong but could not make the plays necessary to win.

Last year’s conference-opening loss sent the Cyclones down the path to an 0-8 league finish.

They aren’t going to allow that to happen again, after last week’s gut-wrenching loss.

“Coach (Paul) Rhoads does a great job keeping everyone motivated and hungry,” Frere said. “It’s a different team that it has been in the past. You won’t see anyone give up, at all.”

Barnes (allegedly) leaning towards…

June 15, 2009
Wanted man: Harrison Barnes

Wanted man: Harrison Barnes

St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters has a blurb in his Sunday column reporting that Ames guard/forward Harrison Barnes is leaning towards playing at Kansas.

Should we believe it? At this point in time, anyone reporting Barnes leaning toward one school over the others is speculating. Barnes may ultimately pick the Jayhawks — a shock to absolutely no one — but he and his mother are holding their cards close to the vest during this process.

My guess: Walters was chatting up a Gopher insider or coach, who is under the impression Barnes has locked in on KU. It’s a column. Attribution is optional. He ran with it.

It may turn out being true, but don’t freak out just yet Iowa State basketball fans.

I still think you have a shot at landing the kid. Of course, I too am speculating. But I’ve got a feeling Barnes isn’t just giving his hometown school a token look when he has his choice of any school in the nation.

Barnes is recruiting service’s No. 1 overall player. has the 6-6 wing at No. 2, with KU, ISU, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Minnesota, Stanford and Florida still under consideration. 

Don’t throw in the towel yet Cyclone Nation. Signing day isn’t until November.

The Big 12’s dance card

March 4, 2009

The old guard is back atop the Big 12 Conference standings and looking toward a postseason run.

Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri are the league’s Big Three teams and safely in the field of 65. I think we can all agree on that.

The next tier is where it gets tricky. Who else deserves bids?

This is a league where every year at least five teams and probably six should be playing past the conference tournament.

The way I see it, there’s five pretty solid locks, especially after Oklahoma State’s uber-important victory Tuesday night over Kansas State.

That was a do-or-die game for the ‘Cats, who fell to 20-10 and 8-7. They’re toast, unless they win four games in four days next week in Oklahoma City, a feat that’s never been accomplished in Big 12 tournament history.

Good luck with that guys.

Past the Big Three, it’s Texas and Oklahoma State — each with identical 20-9 overall and 9-6 league records — whose resumes stand tallest before the selection committee.

Texas A&M has a chance to crash the party if its winning streak reaches a half-dozen and  probably beyond. The Aggies (21-8, 7-7) have to win at Colorado and beat Missouri at home. Have to.

A couple wins at the Ford Center next week wouldn’t hurt in solidifying their standing.

It’s a team that’s on a serious roll. Ask Iowa State, which was run out of the gym in the second half of an 87-69 loss in College Station last weekend.

Here’s what I’ve got right now: Five teams in the NCAA field and one on the bubble.


Brackins vs. KU, Round 2

February 17, 2009

Craig Brackins’ 42-point, 14-rebound outburst last month against Kansas has been a life-changing experience for the star forward.

Brackins’ profile has exploded since then, and so has his belief that he can be a dominating player in the Big 12 Conference.

“It boosted my confidence up a lot,” Brackins said.

In the six games since, Iowa State’s 6-10 sophomore has averaged 21.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest,  shot 49.5% from the field (50 of 101) and made 20 of 30 free-throw attempts.

NBA talk, barely a whisper before that night, has gained momentum. One web site projects Brackins as the No. 20 pick in next year’s draft should he forgo his final two years of eligibility.

That’s what happens when you drop 42 on the defending national champs and you are behind only Oklahoma ‘s Blake Griffin — a lock to go No. 1 overall in the draft — in the league’s most prominent statistical categories.

Everything is different now. He’s the man, and with this Iowa State team, unfortunately a solo act.

“On the court it’s a lot more attention with defenses,” Brackins responded when asked what’s changed since his performance against KU. “Off the court it’s a lot more eyes (on me), people around campus and stuff.”

The Jayhawks, who won the first meeting by a score of 82-67, get another crack at Brackins Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

They didn’t double-team him much in Ames, picking their spots, but mostly checking him straight up.

They paid for it, but the rest of the Cyclones didn’t do their part. Iowa State coach Greg McDermott is expecting a similar defensive strategy this time around.

Brackins isn’t.

“I don’t think they are going to let me breathe and proably try to make it a lot tougher than last time,” he said.

Brackins was 11 of 19 from the field and 17 of 21 at the free-throw line. And his field goals weren’t bunnies, either.

He buried three 3-pointers. Most of the shots were contested.

“He made some hard shots,” KU coach Bill Self said Monday in comments in reporters. “We can probably guard him better,  but he was really good that day. We’ll try to come up with some ways to maybe limit his good touches, but he’s going to probably score some points.”

Brackins was a talented player as a freshman, that was evident.

He now has become an elite player in the Big 12. And, according to McDermott, Brackins could be even better next season if he sticks around.

He’s a better practice player. He’s more focused. Double teams don’t spook him like they used to. His leadership skills have grown strong.

“The exciting thing about Craig is that I don’t think he’s reached his ceiling,” McDermott said. “His body can get better and he can improve in a lot of parts of his game, which is really scary.”

The Cyclones don’t need Brackins to pump in 42 to win Wednesday.

They’ll take 25 and seven assists. ISU is at its best when the perimeter players are hitting shots from the outside off of feeds from Brackins.

More often than not, they haven’t been able to do that, which is why the Cyclones are 13-12 and 2-8 in conference play.

ISU was clicking early in last Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma State. Shots were falling as Brackins was passing out of double teams to open teammates.

“Hopefully that can continue for a whole game,” Brackins said. “If they shoot with confidence we’ll be OK.”