Posts Tagged ‘Nebraska’

Brackins shoots (and shoots) his way out of slump

February 25, 2010

AMES — It was 90 minutes before tip-off Wednesday and who was out on the Hilton Coliseum floor getting extra shots up in advance of Iowa State’s game with Nebraska?

It was Craig Brackins, who had hit just 18 of his previous 68 field goal attempts. The all-Big 12 forward has been doing all he can to break out of this slump. 

“Some guys hide when they struggle and some guys attack it,” Coach Greg McDermott said following ISU’s 78-74 victory. “Right now (attacking) is what he’s doing.”

Whatever he did — it worked. Brackins finished with 21 points — 14 in the second half and 11 down the stretch — to go with 10 rebounds. He hit 7 of his 12 shots from the filed.

“Craig is a great player and rose to the occasion,” said guard Scott Christopherson, who added 17 points of his own and was key in helping snap a six-game losing streak.

Brackins talked earlier in the week about doing more extra work after practices and on his own. He stayed true to his word.

“I made sure I had extra shots,” Brackins said.

The victory puts ISU into a tie for 10th place in the Big 12 Conferenece standings with Colorado, who happens to be its opponent Saturday afternoon.

For a few days at least, the Cyclones can bask in the feeling of a win and quell some of the talk that McDermott’s job may be on the line.

ISU notched McDermott’s 17th Big 12 victory Wednesday night. It was his sixth over Nebraska.

Christopherson not letting mono slow him down

February 23, 2010

AMES — Scott Christopherson’s body is saying one thing. His mind is telling him another. 

The Iowa State guard continues to play hard while fighting off mononucleosis. Christopherson hasn’t been the same since contracting the virus early in the Big 12 season, but has refused to give in mentally.

“I don’t want to be sick and I’m not going to tell myself I am,” Christopherson said recently. “Am I 100 percent? No. But I’m going to go into every game thinking I am because there’s no point in not… Everybody is fatigued and their knees hurt and their body aches. As far as I’m concerned I’m just like everybody else.”

Christopherson scored a career-best 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting last week in a loss to Oklahoma State.

He’s taking one for his short-handed team, which is down to eight scholarship players going into Wednesday night’s game agianst Nebraska at Hilton Coliseum.

Christopherson again will likely log 30-plus minutes for the Cyclones, who come in with an overall mark of 13-14 and 2-10 in league games.

“The effort he’s giving when he shouldn’t really be playing is incredible,” said Coach Greg McDermott. “There aren’t many guys that would play through what he’s playing through. Somehow he’s finding enough energy on game day.”

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McDermott indicated Monday he still is not ready to welcome forward LaRon Dendy back into his good graces.

Dendy was gone from the team for a full week — and two games — to attend his great grandmother’s funeral in South Carolina. Dendy returned days later than expected and without a good explanation.

He did not play in last Wednesday’s loss to OSU and saw four minutes of action last Saturday against Texas A&M.

“He and I met (Sunday) and talked through some things,” McDermott said. “I like the progress he’s making. We’ll gradually work him back into the lineup.”

Dendy is averaging 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds a game. He’s tried to keep his head up, teammates say.

“He’s working extra hard and is doing what he has to do to get back some more minutes,” said Craig Brackins.

Medders’ secret exposed; can ISU’s luck in Lincoln continue?

February 17, 2010

Former Iowa State point guard Lyndsey Medders and her former coach’s son now are husband and wife and living in Chicago where Billy Fennelly serves as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Northwestern.

The two began dating during Medders’ career that spanned 2003-07, a time when Fennelly was a student manager for his dad. Not wanting news of their relationship go public, or put anyone (umm, Bill Fennelly in particular) in an awkward position, the couple hid it from most of the outside world.

Lyndsey and Billy provided details of their secret romance for the first time in this piece, courtesy of ISU’s Alumni Association.

Check out Lyndsey’s web site and don’t hesitate to follow her on Twitter, if nothing else for the inspirational quotes she shares daily.

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Iowa State is looking for its fourth big-time victory in Lincoln, Neb., this athletic year.

First it was volleyball ending a 75-match losing streak to the Huskers. A few days later the football team won at Memorial Stadium for the first time since 1977.

The men’s basketball team snapped a 16-game losing streak in Big 12 road games last month.

The Cyclone women’s basketball team faces unbeaten and No. 3-ranked Nebraska (23-0, 10-0) Wednesday night. An ISU victory would be its eighth in nine games and the cherry on top of an already impressive NCAA Tournament resume.  

“We are going to go over there with the belief that we can,” Head Coach Bill Fennelly said. “Football did it, volleyball did it,  men’s basketball did it. We might as well go try and do it.”

ISU (19-4, 7-3) lost to the Huskers 57-49 in the teams’ Big 12 opener.

Nebraska has tied the single-season school record for wins and is one of only two teams nationally (No. 1 Connecticut) still without a loss.

“It’s one of those perfect storm kind of seasons for them,” Fennelly said. “It is probably the most difficult situation our team will play in all year. It comes at a time when we are playing well. I hope our players are excited about the challenge and seeing where we are.”

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.

Boozer likely out for Nebraska game

January 15, 2010

AMES — Super sub Charles Boozer is considered “doubtful” for Iowa State’s 7 p.m. Big 12 basketball game Saturday at Nebraska, according to ISU media relations contact Mike Green.  

Boozer injured his right knee late in the first half of Wednesday’s 90-83 loss to No. 1 Texas. The junior guard’s knee cap slid out of place when he came down on a drive to the basket.

It popped back in but Boozer had the knee wrapped with ice and did not return to the game.

“Everyone else is good,” Green said.

With Boozer’s absence the Cyclones’ depth takes yet another hit. Guard Chris Colvin (suspension) and center Jamie Vanderbeken (ankle) are both out indefinitely and reserve forward L.A. Pomlee was dismissed from the team last week.

Sophomore Dominique Buckley figures to see increased playing time and ISU’s starters will have to log even more minutes.

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.

Insight Bowl TV, injury and ticket news

December 12, 2009

Mediacom cable customers won’t be seeing NFL Network on their channel lineup any time soon, but that doesn’t mean they are SOL for Iowa State’s Insight Bowl game against Minnesota in Tempe, Ariz.

Bowl officials will try to find a home for the game in the local markets before the Dec. 31 game. Insight representatives were in Ames Friday meeting with ISU officials.

“One of the things we’ll do over the next couple of weeks is work with the NFL Network to try and get better access in the team markets so that folks here who don’t have it can see the game,” said Insight rep Jay Fields.

NFL Network has had the rights to the game since its inception in 2006.

Mediacom does not carry that channel on any of its packages — and apparently doesn’t plan to.

“I don’t see that changing,” ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said. “Whether there will be an oppoithty for the game to be seen over the air…I’m glad to hear they are working on it.”

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Pollard said half of ISU’s alotted 10,500 tickets have been sold since Sunday’s announcement.

This week’s freezing temperatures and record snowfall have probably helped spur sales. Are ISU folks hoping for another blizzard or two before the month is out?

“Personaly I hope not because I don’t want to have to eal with it,” Pollard said. “but if that’s what it takes to get people to go to tempe, then I am all for it. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

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Defensive back Ter’ran Benton is fully participating in practice activity and will play against the Golden Gophers.

Benton broke a bone in his leg during ISU’s Oct. 24 win over Nebraska. The sophomore totaled 36 tackles and two sacks this season, playing mainly as the Cyclones’ nickel back.

“He is back practicing and doing everything full speed,”  Coach Paul Rhoads said. “It’ll be exciting to see him back in uniform.”

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Iowa State’s trip down there in 2000 remains the stuff of legend in the Valley of the Sun.

The school sold 12,000 tickets to the game and at least another 8,000 — more depending on whom you talk to — were inside Bank One Ballpark.

“When people talk about the Insight Bowl and the growth it has had, the game everyone always talks about is Iowa State-Pittsburgh and how many people came from the state of Iowa to watch the Cyclones,” Fields said.

Cyclone history for sale

October 31, 2009

Iowa State’s 9-7 victory over Nebraska — and the celebration that ensued — will forever live on in the hearts, minds and computers of Cyclone fans.

The historic win — ISU’s first at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln since 1977 — can now forever be a conversation piece in your living room.

Better act fast though.

A football used during the game is being auctioned off at ISU’s athletic web site (www.cyclones.com) until 4 p.m. Monday.  It is signed by Coach Paul Rhoads and comes with a certificate of authenticity.

This could be a whopper of a profit for the athletic department, compared with the typical auction fare.

The bidding was up to $750 as of Friday night. It began at $200. Eleven bids later, the price of poker went up substantially.

If this goes anything like eBay auctions, the bidding could get interesting during Monday’s final hour.

I’ll post the winning bid once it goes final.

Job is safe, but Mahoney better get straight

October 21, 2009

Grant Mahoney remains Iowa State’s starting place kicker.

And while Coach Paul Rhoads admitted — to no one’s surprise — that his field goal game was “suspect”, Mahoney is his guy going forward. The Cyclones play at Nebraska Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

“My confidence in him has not weakened,” Rhoads said. “If I get an opportunity to kick a 50-yard field goal against Nebraska Saturday morning, that’s what I am going to do. I’m going to call on him to go kick it and expect that he’ll hit it well.”

Mahoney missed three of four field-goal attempts last week against Baylor, including a 30- and a 35-yarder. He is 9 of 14 on the season. 

Those misfires came right after Mahoney failed on three consecutive PATs against Kansas State and Kansas. The sophmore from Marion made 47 straight to begin his career.

ISU beat Baylor comfortably, but would’ve liked Mahoney to made good on his tries.

He has a strong leg. Now it’s time he reclaim the accuracy he’s shown is in him.

“Those are points that are going to cost us and prohibit us from winning football games moving forward,” Rhoads said.

Arnaud, A-Rob expecting to play vs. Nebraska

October 19, 2009

Quarterback Austen Arnaud and tailback Alexander Robinson are expected to be ready for Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. game at Nebraska, the players said Monday.

Arnaud bruised his throwing hand four plays into last week’s 24-10 victory over Baylor after banging it on the helmet of a Bears defensive lineman following through on a pass.

He played the rest of the first half and one series after halftime before giving way to backup Jerome Tiller.

Arnaud did not practice Sunday but said he would play against the Huskers.

“No doubt,” he said.

Robinson’s status is not as clear cut. The junior tailback re-aggravated his strained groin muscle in the third quarter against Baylor and did not return.

He arrived Monday in front of reporters walking with a limp. ISU coaches and trainers won’t get a feel for how effective Robinson can play until late in the week.

When asked if he’ll play Saturday he said emphatically, “Yes.”

“I’m sore but it’s getting better,” Robinson said. “We are going to take it day by day and I’m going to keep thinking positively.”