The Iowa State men’s basketball team defeated Black Hills State 96-47 on Monday evening. After the exhibition contest, Iowa State head basketball coach Greg McDermott met with reporters. Here’s the entire Q&A.
GM: This was a good first game for us. Black Hills State, as I told the team, they’re not going to quit. They won 30 games last year and Saturday night they beat the defending NAIA division one champion. So it’s a team that is going to play with confidence and I thought that our pressure over time wore into them. I tried to explain to our guys early that you can’t hit a homerun with your pressure early in the game. It’s not going to impact the game in the first 10 minutes, it impacts it in the last 10 minutes. By the time we hit the 10 minute mark, their point guard wanted nothing to do with BuBu Palo bringing the ball up the court against him. He was passing it to the big guy. That’s what pressure will do if you apply it the right way. I like some of the things that we did defensively from a pressure standpoint but there is also a lot to learn. We took some chances with some gambles that we have to learn not to take. Our positioning wasn’t perfect. As I just told the team in the locker room, we probably played better offensively than we had been playing in practice. I think that part of that is a credit to our guys that they really are competing against each other in practice. They understand that playing time is up for grabs and that we have competition at virtually every position. So they’ve worked really hard at pushing each other and I think that paid off tonight.
How was Marquis (Gilstrap) tonight?
GM: I thought he was a little flat. As he mentioned, I thought that the nervous energy probably wore into him a little bit quicker than he or I would have liked. He didn’t think he was moving slow but he was moving slow compared to what he is capable of. That’s just going to be a work in progress. Obviously, he brings some things to us that we haven’t had in the past. That’s just having a wing that we can run down to that low block and can go get us an easy basket or can get us an offensive rebound or tip-dunk. Just some things that we weren’t able to create last year, he can create for us.
Were you kind of just wanting to get the team jitters worked out tonight?
GM: Yeah…get the jitters out. Let the new guys put on the uniform for the first time. Try to get everybody out there. I didn’t want to play anybody more than 20 minutes. We got a couple guys around 20 or 21 but for the most part, we were able to run them in and out of there and our depth is going to be a strength. There is no question. If we can have a guy like Dominique Buckley, who came off the bench and did some really nice things on both ends of the floor. I thought he ran the team. Craig Brackins gets three assists and doesn’t turn it over in 20 minutes. Those types of things are going to be big for us down the stretch. We’ll take tomorrow off. Then have a couple of days of practice. Then UNC-Pembroke will bring a little different team. They’ll be more athletic but not probably accustomed to success like this Black Hills team was.
Can you talk about LaRon Dendy’s performance a little bit?
GM: He is an energy guy. He and Marquis, their biggest challenge is to adjust to how you have to play defensively at this level and how hard you have to play for long periods of time. Whether you come from high school or from junior college, that’s usually a little different. It’s a different adjustment at this level. He got better as the game went on. He was a little nervous early as well but he can get us baskets down low. He’s active on the glass. I think that he has the chance to be a really special defensive player. He doesn’t know that yet but we’ll get him there.
How did you guys shoot the ball so well?
GM: It’s tough to say. I think that we took some pretty good shots. For the most part, we had the right guys shooting them. Craig, I’d rather see him establish himself down low first and then stretch out to the 3-point line. Diante Garret’s first basket of the game, he turns down a 3-shot, fakes it and takes it to 15-foot. Last year, he would have shot that 3-pointer. So there’s a lot of maturity with Craig, with Diante, with Lucca, with Charles Boozer. The guys who have been in the program, I think that they understand a little bit better than they have in the past what their roll is and what we need them to do.
Were there any groups of players that you thought meshed well together?
GM: I’d have to watch the film. We were running them in and out of there so fast I didn’t really get a feel for which group played the best. I think that each group at times did some good things. All in all, it was a good first game. We’re going to have a lot of teaching points on film that will be very valuable to us.
Did Scott (Christopherson) hit his knee in the second half?
GM: He just cramped up when he went to the floor. He was fine. People got their first taste of him. He can do some things off of the dribble, maybe that Lucca can’t. Scott can still shoot the basketball. He’s another solid defender for us. He understands the game. He really talks the game while he’s out there. It’s just that we haven’t been fortunate enough to have this kind of depth during my time here. It allows you to allow someone to have a bad night. Or if somebody has the flu, or tweaks an ankle. We hope none of that happens but if it does, at least we have somewhere to turn. We’re going to play a lot of guys this year. I really think that I am comfortable with nine or 10 right now. When we get Jamie Vanderbeeken back, we may even be able to go deeper.