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  1. #1
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    Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Please forgive me if this has already been discussed, but below is a sobering article by Paul Clark about the state of our men's basketball program. It's not a pleasant read, but the truth can hurt.

    Having said that, though, I really feel like Coach Mac and his staff are the perfect leaders for our program at a time like this. Call me naive if you want, but I strongly believe that their strength of character is exactly what is needed to take our program to a much brighter future.



    Dateline Campustown: Is anyone happy at ISU?

    By Paul Clark, CycloneReport.com Publisher May 20, 11:39 am EDT

    If the nicest guy on the team canít enjoy being at Iowa State, who can? If the best player on the team canít enjoy being at Iowa State, who can? If a guy who had a smile for everyone all the time, went to class, didnít get arrested and was a fan favorite canít enjoy being at Iowa State, who can? How hard is it to keep people happy - or at the very least content - at Iowa State?


    Apparently, itís a heck of a challenge because the revolving door to ISUís menís basketball program keeps spinning away. Tim Floyd didnít bother to learn playersí names until they were juniors because he ran off so many freshmen and sophomores. Larry Eustachy was a chip off the olí Floyd. Wayne Morgan gave us Robert Faulkner, Aaron Agnew and Ivan ChiriaevÖall in the same recruiting class. Reducing attrition and improving stability seemed like slam dunks when Greg McDermott took over the Cyclone program. How could he not improve in at least that one area with the bar to clear being so low to begin with?

    Is it societal? Is it cultural? Is it the AAU/prep school sleaze factor? Is it just the ways things are now? Is Iowa State just part of a larger trend of players coming and going like never before?

    Anecdotally, it does seem like there is more transferring, more team jumping and more in-the-shadows recruiting of current players than ever before. But whether or not that has truly increased or it just appears that way, I donít know. What I do know is that ISU basketball is dead in the water unless it can figure out a way to recruit and retain players at a much higher rate of success.


    The first recruiting class that can truly be attributed to McDermott and staff is already down a third. Clayton Vette and Marcus Brister both left the program very early in their freshman year, so two out of six signed in 2007 were former Cyclones not long after they became Cyclones. When ISU basketball careers resemble celebrity marriages in tenure, the red flags have to pop up. How can a program even sustain, let alone dare to dream about climbing, by losing one out of every three players it signs within months? The answer is, it canít.

    Iowa Stateís 2006 recruiting class was a cobbled together mess to begin with and canít fully be placed on the doorstep of McDermott & Co. They gambled on five prospects and, as it turns out, rolled craps on all five. Just two calendar years and change after signing day Ď06, the entire class is gone. Two were JUCO players that would have been gone already by now, but both of them flamed out after just one year at ISU. Two prep school kids and one true high school product are also now former Cyclones. Out of 16 potential seasons of basketball, that recruiting class played a total of seven. Three freshman seasons, two sophomore seasons, two junior seasons and NO senior seasons. More to the point, five first years, two second years, NO third years and NO fourth years.

    Each individual situation can be looked at and rationalized and explained away. But collectively, the 2006 and 2007 classes already represent a 64 percent failure rate and the 4-of-11 signed prospects that are still at Iowa State as of today still must navigate at least 12 more years of school and basketball combined to finish what they started. And enjoy it. Whoís feeling good about the chances of that happening? With seven of their peers having failed to make it happen, the trends are not favorable to say the least.

    And again, letís be fair to McDermott as heís just the current manager on duty. Those that came before him were similarly afflicted. Eustachyís class of 2002 had three washouts in four signed. Ditto for 2003 (although with an asterisk for Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock leaving to pursue NBA dreams/fantasies). Morganís 2004 class was a 2-for-6 and his 2005 class was a 1-for-7. Those numbers are simply pathetic. Couldnít anyone be right more than three out of thirteen times, like Morgan was? Or two out of eight, like Eustachy in his last two years? I mean, just by guessingÖor throwing dartsÖblindfolded?

    Why do menís basketball players at Iowa State wash out at such a high rate? Your guess is as good as mine. The why isnít that important to those of us outside the program and the athletic department because weíre in no position to fix it anyway. The what is all that really matters. The what is: the program you cheer for and support financially isnít living up to its end of that deal and needs to be fixed. Whether thatís a change in who is signed or a change in how they are managed and handled once they arrive, something has to change. And it needed to change before the current head coach was hired. Iowa State is a woeful 33-72 in Big 12 play over the last seven seasons of almost continuous ďrebuildingĒ, spanning three coaching staffs. And you count the number of four-year seniors from the past seven years on one hand.

    And yet, the fans keep coming. Iowa State ranked 23rd in the nation in menís basketball attendance last season. Twenty-third out of over 300 Division I programs. Cyclone fans donít deserve a winning program; they deserve a medal of honor. How in the world can they be expected to keep coming back for more of the same? Ditto for football. Anyone working in the Iowa State athletic department that takes credit for increased attendance numbers and donations and revenue should be flogged. It has happened in spite of execution and performance, not because of it. Cyclone fans are amazing but even they canít be expected to out kick their own teamsí coverage forever. The bottom falls out of this business model eventually.

    Why is it so hard to enjoy the basketball experience at Iowa State? It must be quite the mystery because multiple high-priced coaches have not been able to come up with an answer. Wesley Johnson seemed like an impossibility to become so alienated with ISU that he would leave. Yet heís leaving. If Mr. Happy Go Lucky can be turned into Mr. Unhappy Go Home, who is safe? The fact of the matter that playing Division I basketball is demanding, is taxing, is difficult. Yet something keeps players where they are, or doesnít. The pros of being a Cyclone basketball player are apparently less than the cons, or the majority of players wouldnít be bugging out. It has to be fixed and soon. Someone, anyone, please figure it out.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    I will AGREE on one thing....This Business Model Sucks Mega Big Time!!!



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    The article touches on something I have said many times on here long before the WJ departure...turnover at schools all over the country for reasons other than expiration of eligibility is increasing...this is not something just happening at ISU.

    Having said that, having your best returning player decide to leave is quite rare...unless they are going to the NBA.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    I think it happens everywhere, but I do think it is happening worse here in the last 10 years.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    You mean it's NOT a phenomenon limited to GMac????

    But all those anonymous 1 and 2 post count wunderkinder said that was so....

    Now, I'm crushed.....


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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Facts I think everyone can agree with:

    1. ISU recent player turnover history cannot be explained by "it happens everywhere".
    2. The tenure of ISU MBB head coaches has contributed to the player turnover.

    Conventional wisdom at the time of hire would confirm that McDermott was the right coach to develop some stability in the program. If that goal is not achieved it will be to the surprise of us all. So far I, like many, am surprised.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Enginerd View Post
    Facts I think everyone can agree with:

    1. ISU recent player turnover history cannot be explained by "it happens everywhere".
    You mean, despite the FACT that it DOES "happen everywhere"??? Like Freeman at Iowa, or Kentucky's recent mass migration of players? In the words of Andre the Giant in "The Princess Bride" regarding your use of the word "fact"- "I do not think that word means what you think it means...."

    2. The tenure of ISU MBB head coaches has contributed to the player turnover.
    Gotta agree with you 1000%, right there.... Personally, I think the solution is to "Fire the Coach!!!" Or at least micro-manage him into ineffectiveness...

    Conventional wisdom at the time of hire would confirm that McDermott was the right coach to develop some stability in the program. If that goal is not achieved it will be to the surprise of us all. So far I, like many, am surprised.
    I'm not. Since Johnny Orr, this has been the face of not only ISU, but NCAA basketball. Why should that be a surprise???


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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Fair enough. "Facts" was a bit too presumptuous. I would like to clarify a few points.

    Yes, it does happen everywhere...just not to the degree it has happened to ISU recently. Naming one player or one program in turmoil does not make me feel any better.

    I am surprised with McD. I find it hard to believe that any believer or naysayer would not be surprised. I did not share the same expectations as far as NCAA's and wins that many of my Cyclone friends did but I did think there would be more stability at this point. It's not just WJ though he hurts. It sucks for McD and ISU because he is now under a microsope that is a bit too premature for the program.

    I was a skeptic but now I understand it is time to circle the wagons.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    I'm not ready to hang this all on McDermott, and I realize this is a growing trend, but there are plenty of schools that do not have this problem. Can anyone remember the last time a player left Wisconsin? (Sam Oakey to Iowa what, 7 years ago???) Anyway enough of the mini rant but this trend needs to start moving the other direction.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Enginerd View Post
    Fair enough. "Facts" was a bit too presumptuous. I would like to clarify a few points.

    Yes, it does happen everywhere...just not to the degree it has happened to ISU recently. Naming one player or one program in turmoil does not make me feel any better.

    I am surprised with McD. I find it hard to believe that any believer or naysayer would not be surprised. I did not share the same expectations as far as NCAA's and wins that many of my Cyclone friends did but I did think there would be more stability at this point. It's not just WJ though he hurts. It sucks for McD and ISU because he is now under a microsope that is a bit too premature for the program.

    I was a skeptic but now I understand it is time to circle the wagons.
    Quote Originally Posted by intrepid27 View Post
    I'm not ready to hang this all on McDermott, and I realize this is a growing trend, but there are plenty of schools that do not have this problem. Can anyone remember the last time a player left Wisconsin? (Sam Oakey to Iowa what, 7 years ago???) Anyway enough of the mini rant but this trend needs to start moving the other direction.
    Agreed, to all of the above. We need to move in the other direction, but for now, I'm all about wagon-circling....


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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Agreed, to all of the above. We need to move in the other direction, but for now, I'm all about wagon-circling....
    Consolidate the fanbase after the defense (or in this case, desertion).

    Count our people, make sure we have our tickets, and get back to the work of supporting our Cyclones!


    Since we are an elite team now, let's go get that One Cyclone Moment.
    Make this one for the ages!




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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Program sales should be great at Big 12 North venues next winter. We will not know the full extent of the defections until after the NBA draft. Fans seem to have no choice other than to support whoever their team puts on the floor. Making predictions about how teams will finish seem fruitless other than at KU. They seem to reload instead of rebuild.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Here is the one problem I have when people bring up past player defections under Floyd, Eustacey and even early under Morgan... There weren't rules penalizing teams for players leaving back then. Now there are so coaches either need to recruit players that will hang around or do their best to keep them around....



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Quote Originally Posted by intrepid27 View Post
    Can anyone remember the last time a player left Wisconsin? (Sam Oakey to Iowa what, 7 years ago???) Anyway enough of the mini rant but this trend needs to start moving the other direction.
    Wisconsin has had one coach in the same time we've gone through four....and three of our four didn't give a damn about academics or anything else off-the-court.

    I'll worry about it if the turnover continues when McDermott has a roster full of players he recruited.



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    Re: Is the problem specific to ISU?

    Quote Originally Posted by MontyBurns View Post
    Wisconsin has had one coach in the same time we've gone through four....and three of our four didn't give a damn about academics or anything else off-the-court.

    I'll worry about it if the turnover continues when McDermott has a roster full of players he recruited.

    Get ready to worry then, because that time is now.


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