The Iowa State men’s basketball team will head to Drake for their first road game of 2009 on Tuesday night. Tip-off from the Knapp Center is set for 7 p.m. CycloneFanatic.com will be in Des Moines covering the rivalry game.
Earlier today, Iowa State head coach Greg McDermott met with members of the media to discuss the big contest and a whole lot more. Opening Comments
GM: We did what we had to do this weekend. Idaho State was a good team to open up with. They have some size that allows them to do some things at our level and they had some experience in the guard court so we got off to a little slow start and finally got our transition game kicked in. I was really pleased with that win. We found a different way to win last night. We didn’t shoot the ball well. In particular, two guys who we are going to go to a lot in Brackins and Gilstrap had a rough night shooting the basketball but we found other ways to win, with our defense and offensive rebounding in particular. We turn the page and have another one day prep for Drake. I had an opportunity to watch their game against IUPUI. If they can score 82 points without Josh Young in the lineup, that’s a pretty impressive statistic. They made 13 3-pointers without him in the lineup. They have a lot of guys who can shoot the basketball. We had a tough game with them that we ended up losing at home last year. I know that our guys are excited to go down there and take this show on the road to see how we handle that.
Can you give us any specifics on LaRon Dendy’s injury like how long he will be out?
GM: I think that it is too early to tell. It depends on how his knee reacts. Scott Christopherson took a charge in practice and fell backwards into LaRon’s knee. It’s a sprained knee basically. The good news is that his knee is really stable and there hasn’t been much swelling. It’s just going to be a matter of some people respond differently to injuries than others. I know that LaRon wants to get back out on the floor as quickly as possible. I’m hopeful that in a week from now, we’ll have a much better idea but I am keeping my fingers crossed that at least we’ll have him back for Chicago.
Can you talk about making adjustments with the team now that he is out?
GM: It’s tough to do. A result of our sloppy play last night was that we hadn’t had any opportunity to work with Marquis Gilstrap at the power forward position. We wanted to slide him there some. Jamie Vanderbeken isn’t ready to probably play more than 14 or 15 minutes right now. The minutes that he did play last night were very efficient and very effective. Now we just have one day of prep for Drake. Drake zones a little different than the zones we have seen to this point. We only have one day to work on that. We’ll spend some time on ourselves but a lot of it will be on what we think we’ll see against Drake. We’ll try to get Marquis as prepped as we possibly can. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a few more days.
What do you have to do to attack Drake’s zone?
GM: You can’t fall in love with the 3-point shot. Last year, if you remember, I think that Lucca hit his first five shots and his first four 3-pointers. That probably gave us a false sense of security that we could do that all game. We have to get touches inside, both getting it to Brackins, Gilstrap or Hamilton and get into the teeth of the defense with the dribble as well and create open 3-point shots with our feet set. We’ve got a lot to work on today in that regard because it is different than the zone we saw against Idaho State.
Are you going to prepare for Drake as if Josh Young will play?
GM: Yes. Absolutely. I don’t have any clue as to how severe his injury is but I know Josh well enough were if he can play, he will play. Our expectation is that he’ll play.
Do you like going on a road game in Des Moines where a lot of Iowa State faithful will be able to go?
GM: I hope that we have a good showing down there. They always have great crowds down there. Especially when it is an in-state game. This is a little earlier than we’ve met in the past but with the edition of that PAC 10/Big 12 Hardwood Series, it’s really difficult to have that game, the Iowa game, the Northern Iowa game and the Drake game all in that same period so we had to move it a little earlier this season. As a coach, you always wonder how your team is going to respond on the road for the first time. We have enough experience where hopefully, it can help us and our new guys can execute at a new level.
Your returning guys haven’t beaten Drake yet. Is that motivation?
GM: They’re disappointed. We’ve lost a couple of tough ones at home and really got wacked down there a couple of years ago coming off of that road trip from Oregon State. I’m sure that adds a little bit of motivation but you only get to play so many college games so every one is important.
If Josh Young plays, how will you handle him defensively? He has obviously hurt you in the past.
GM: He could make a nice highlight tape of games against my teams. He is just a great player. You have to try to keep a fresh player on him. That’s what we’re going to attempt to do. We’ll use some size on him. We’ll try to use some quickness and some strength on him. You’re not going to stop him. He’s proven over the test of time that it is really difficult to keep him in check for 40 minutes. What you don’t want to have happen is for him to have a big night and also create a bunch for his teammates at the same time. You have to take away one of the two. By using fresh bodies, I am hoping that we can wear into him a little bit.
DeMarcus Phillips signed today. Some thoughts on him?
GM: DeMarcus Phillips is a combo-guard who we just felt was too talented not to take when the opportunity was there and he had a sincere interest in Iowa State. He can plan both guard positions. He has a tremendous feel for the game. He is a winner on both ends of the floor. He brings a lot of toughness and a lot of tenacity. He can shoot the basketball well enough. There aren’t many guys in the history of Wisconsin who were the city player of the year and also Mr. Basketball in the state. DeMarcus is a very talented young man. He’s been in Marshalltown for the past few years so he’s spent a lot of time with our guys and he’s a great fit. We’re excited to have him on board.