The Iowa State men’s basketball team allowed fans forget about Harrison Barnes at least for a little bit on Friday night when they blew out Idaho State 88-68 to start the season with a 1-0 record.
But again, it’s no secret that Barnes was the hot topic throughout Hilton.
“It probably impacted me more than it did them,” Iowa State head coach Greg McDermott said after the game. “Harrison was just one of the guys to them. He’s been around our gym for three years and we’ve invested a lot in it. He decided that this wasn’t the place. That’s okay. Are we disappointed? Yes. I wish him all of the best but my focus has to be on the guys who are on my team and that want to be on my team. He chose not to be and that’s okay.”
It’ll be much easier for Cyclone fans to move on with a winning 2009 season. So far, so good.
Craig Brackins and LaRon Dendy dominated down low for Iowa State. Brackins scored 17 points to lead the way while grabbing three rebounds. Dendy, while wowing the crowd a few times, scored 16 points while snagging seven boards.
– Brackins and Dendy scored the points but my player of the game award goes to junior point guard Diante Garrett. Here’s a stat for you. Garrett went 0-1 from the field while not scoring a point. While doing that, he was a monster on defense while dishing out seven assists with no turnovers. That’s a point guard ladies and gentlemen.
“He’s really grown as a point guard,” McDermott said. His shot selection has changed and I think just in general, guys just doing what they can do best for the team, that’s starting to take place.”
“They played a lot of zone. There weren’t many opportunities for Diante to do what he does best. He’s really grown as a point guard. His shot selection has changed.”
I wrote this last week. I’ll write it again. Diante Garrett has the tools to be one of the best point guards in the Big 12. He’s due for a breakout season.
– With their flashy dunks and abundance of energy, LaRon Dendy and Marquis Gilstrap certainly are going to be crowd pleasers this year. If they brought this much pizzazz to Hilton tonight, just imagine how amped up the duo will be prior to the Kansas game on Jan. 23. They’re walking highlight reels. But I also have a feeling that they’ll also be a headache for Greg McDermott. Getting these two guys to take it down a notch in certain situations will be important throughout the non-conference campaign.
Are they going too fast? McDermott was asked that after the game.
“We’re trying to change the culture and change the way we play. That takes a little bit of time,” McDermott said. “I felt really comfortable (with them on the floor together.) They can erase a lot of mistakes. I was asking them to do things they haven’t done before. To have some guys that can erase some of those mistakes is great to have. Without question during the first half, during that stretch, we set the tone with our defense and continued to bring fresh players off the bench.”
– Balance was key for the Cyclones again on Friday night. A total of 10 Cyclones got in the scorebook for Iowa State.
“We spread our shots around. The guys were really unselfish and always willing to make that extra pass,” McDermott said.
Notice the stats from Lucca Staiger and Scott Christopherson. The pair of off-guards combined for 19 points while splitting time. That’s some quality productivity.
McDermott confirmed that Bubu Palo and Antwon Oliver will red-shirt this season. Walk-on Alex Dorr will not. Dorr played three minutes tonight. McDermott cited Jamie Vanderbeeken’s injury situation as the reason for playing Dorr.
– McDermott compared Dendy to former Missouri slasher DeMarre Carroll after the game. He said that he really talked to Dendy a lot about being that type of player for Iowa State this season.
– Iowa State is now 83-20 all-time in home season-openers.
– Lucca Staiger knocked down three 3-pointers. That number puts him 15th on Iowa State’s all time 3-pointer list.
– Craig Brackins has scored in double figures for 19 consecutive games.
Iowa State will host Chicago State on Sunday night with a 6 p.m. tip in Hilton Coliseum.