Posts Tagged ‘Marquis Gilstrap’

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.”

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McDermott: Brackins’ draft stock still high

February 22, 2010

AMES — Don’t get too excited thinking a down year by Craig Brackins is going to kill his draft prospects and keep him at Iowa State for another year.

Coach Greg McDermott still thinks the 6-10 forward is NBA bound at season’s end.

“He hasn’t said that for sure, but that’s my feeling,” McDermott said Monday.

“There still aren’t many skilled 6-10 power forwards floating around that can do what he can do. You don’t see the kind of same type of defense in the NBA that you see in college basketball. When Criag hasn’t been double-teamed, he’s scored.”

Brackins is averaging 16.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a game — down from the 20.2 ppg and 9.5 rpg he put up last year as an all-Big 12 first-team player.

He’s been streaky this season and is in a major slump over the last four games, shooting 18 for 68 (26.5 percent) from the floor. 

“I probably shoot 200 to 300 shots a day. Maybe I’ll try 400 or 500,” Brackins said. “Maybe what I’m doing is not enough. I’ve worked twice as hard this year than last year and I’m still a little off.”

The web site www.draftexpress.com has Brackins as a high second-round pick. Another mock draft at www.nbadraft.net projects Brackins as going No. 21 overall.

New to the draft game this year is a May 8 deadline for early entries to pull their name out and still retain their eligibility. Prospects used to be able to go later into the process before having to do that.

April 25th is the deadline players have to declare for the draft.

Brackins — and 6-7 wing Marquis Gilstap, if he is granted a sixth year of eligibility — should have their plans figured out by then.

“They’ll make some decisions shortly after the season is over,” McDermott said. “I don’t think either one of them is in a situation where they are going to drag this out.”

Gilstrap, who is averaging 14.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, could be awarded another season if the NCAA rules in favor of ISU’s appeal. He could also decide to turn pro.

Gilstrap and his girlfriend have a young child together and are expecting another in June.

“His priority is feeding his family and he’s going to make a decision that’s in the best interests of his family,” McDermott said. “Nobody can question him on that.”

Either way, the Cyclones are moving forward as if they won’t have either Gilstrap or Brackins back next season. The late signing period opens in mid-April.

Cyclone Fanatic.com reported Monday that ISU has offered Marshallltown Community College wing Will Clyburn.

“You recruit with the assumption they’re not coming back and if they do, you still have time,” McDermott said. “It’s not like we’ve got anybody committed there.”

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).”

Roster shuffle has ISU coaches on the hunt

February 3, 2010

 

McDermott having to plug holes in his roster

AMES — Iowa State has been in a recruiting scramble the last few weeks as its men’s basketball roster has undergone major changes. 

Spots that were filled by Lucca Staiger and L.A. Pomlee suddenly are open and one that coaches thought would be available isn’t as injured senior Jamie Vanderbeken is being shelved with the hope that he will be alllowed to play next season.

ISU coaches are piling up cell phone minutes and frequent flier miles checking out prospects they didn’t necessarily need a month ago.

“You always have your eyes on people and trying to be aware of who is available and playing well,” Coach Greg McDermott said this week. “Now that we are in this situation we’ve been more aggressive the last two weeks in getting out and getting in front to see some people.

“With Lucca leaving we’ll probably look to add someone in the guard court.”

Add in Marquis Gilstrap’s appeal to the NCAA for a extra year of eligibility beyond his one and only guaranteed season — the result of which won’t be known until after the season — and there’s all kinds of question marks looking ahead to the 2010-11 roster.

Forward Craig Brackins has another year to play, but the expectation is the junior big man won’t pass on entering the NBA Draft early like he did last April.

“My guess is that Craig is going to declare,” McDermott said. “Because of his age that’s probably what he should do.”

ISU will add at least one player in the late signing period to help fill Brackins’ place in the middle. The Cyclones have a verbal commitment from 6-10, 215-pounder Jordan Railey of Beaverton, Ore.

Two backcourt players — 6-6 Melvin Ejim from Brewster (N.H.) Academy and Marshalltown Community College 6-3 shooting guard DeMarcus Phillips — signed letters of intent back in November.

Assuming Brackins and Gilstrap don’t return and Vanderbeken is granted a medical hardship, nine of ISU’s 13 scholarships are spoken for by returning players. Recruits Railey, Ejim and Phillips make it 12, leaving one spot to fill.

Stay tuned Cyclone fans.  And good luck predicting which players will be sitting on ISU’s bench next season.

Offseasons have unfortunately been eventful in the McDermott era.

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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.

Deja Vu for Hoiberg at Hilton

January 14, 2010

AMES — Wednesday night’s game between Iowa State and Texas stirred up some fond memories for Fred Hoiberg.

The Cyclone legend was at Hilton Coliseum scouting for the Minnesota Timberwolves and had a courtside seat for his former team’s battle with the top-ranked Longhorns.

ISU (11-5) played its guts out and a raucous crowd did its part, but ultimately Texas (16-0) was too talented, too deep and too motivated to keep its perfect record intact in a 90-83 victory.

Hoiberg knows how the guys in the home locker room were feeling.  

“We played against a couple of No. 1 teams. The atmosphere in here was as good as it gets,” Hoiberg said. “I think we lost to Kansas one year by seven when Raef LaFrentz came in here as a freshman. We should have beat them.”

Hoiberg retired from basketball in 2006 and now is the T’Wolves’ Vice President of Basketball Operations. He was representing one of 13 NBA teams inside Hilton Coliseum Wednesday night.

He surely came away impressed by sharp-shooting guard Avery Bradley, forward Damion James and what seemed like a never-ending string of future NBA players that came off Texas’ bench.

ISU star forward Craig Brackins had his moments, too, as did Marquis Gilstrap with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Not that Hoiberg could give us his thoughts — or say who he was watching most closely.

“I can’t talk about the guys. It’s against NBA rules,” Hoiberg said.

The Mayor will be back on Jan. 23 for the Cyclones’ game with Kansas, which also has a number of pro prospects. The home crowd figures to be just as ampedfor that one, as always is the case when the Jayhawks come to town.

“I love coming back to Ames. It’s my favorite place to watch a game,” Hoiberg said. “The fans here are just amazing. The crowd always give these guys a chance.”

The Cyclones have underachieved this season with what is Coach Greg McDermott’s most talented collection of players in his four years at the school.

An NCAA Tournament run isn’t out of the realm, but realistically it’s not looking too good at this point.

Some fans are down on McDermott. Hoiberg isn’t.

“Greg is an excellent coach,” he said. “It’s a tough conference to compete in with all the history of some of the programs, but I definitely think he’s got the program on the right track.”

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The Cyclones showed some spunk against Texas that has been lacking of late. They led at the half and had the college basketball world on upset alert.

“I’m proud of the way our team competed,” McDermott said. “A sense of urgency was there.”

Teams of ISU past have rolled over and died following a 10-0 run like the one Texas had to start the second half. McDermott’s bunch refused to do that, in the face of Brackins, Gilstrap and key reserve Charles Boozer all missing time in the second half due to injury.

The Cyclones continued competing until the final seconds. 

“We didn’t quit after that and got ourselves back in it, but they made big play after big play,” McDermott said.

Maybe opening the Big 12 Conference season with the league’s best team will prove to be a good thing. Next up is a trip Saturday to Lincoln, Neb., for a game with the Huskers.

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.

ISU men’s hoops health update

December 1, 2009

Forward LaRon Dendy is questionable for Wednesday’s home game against Northern Iowa with a sprained right knee.

Dendy, who re-injured himself last Friday against Saint Louis in the semifinals of the Chicago Invitational, was scheduled to be checked out by Iowa State team doctors Monday. The 6-9, 230-pound forward was hurt in practice one day after debuting at ISU with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Dendy missed four games, then played just eight minutes against Saint Louis before injuring the knee again on a block out attempt.

“I don’t think it is as bad as last time,” Coach Greg McDermott said Monday. “It really scared him and there was swelling there, but we don’t think it is as severe as last time.”

Meanwhile, McDermott said second-leading scorer Marquis Gilstrap is battling bronchitis and all-Big 12 Conference forward Craig Brackins “is starting to come down with something.”

“It’s that time of year when the weather is starting to turn colder and things run through your team,” McDermott said.

The Cyclones opened the season with seven games in a span of 15 days. They were off Sunday, except for the bus ride home from Chicago, and got back to practice Monday.

Players got a much-needed break from the game both mentally and physically. ISU tips with UNI at 7 p.m. Wednesday night then is set to leave for Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday afternoon.

Saturday’s Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series game with California is set to tip off at 10 p.m. Central time.