As he does every Monday during the season, Iowa State men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott met with members of the media yesterday to discuss the state of his Cyclone program. Here is the complete transcript of what went down courtesy of CycloneFanatic.com.
It was a tough week for us. There is really no way to spin it and make it sound better than it was. We have to play better. We have to play better in a lot of areas of the game. The fact that we only have one game between now and Dec. 20 is exactly what we need right now. We need some time that we are spending on ourselves and not so much preparing for the next opponent because we have a lot of things that we need to work out on both ends of the floor. Rebounding in particular to try to put our guys in the position where they can be a little bit more successful. That is our challenge for this week. Cal has a really good basketball team and they have two terrific guards. We gave them too many second opportunities. You can’t win on the road against a good basketball team if you’re going to give them a second try and a third try. We really put ourselves in a position where every offensive possession was gold because we gave them too many opportunities when we were on defenses.
Craig said last week that he needed to get tougher. Is he doing that?
GM: Craig is really competing right now. Probably at a level that is more consistent than at any time as a member of our team. He is doing what he has to do. He wants to rebound better. He wants to be more on the offensive end. As long as Craig continues to make it a priority in practice, it is going to continue to get better for him. We got him some good touches in each of really, the last three games. He has made some plays and missed some shots that he thinks, I think and most everybody that watches him thinks that he is going to make. We just have to get better at getting some second opportunities when he shoots the basketball when we are flying to the offensive glass. Our shooters just haven’t shot it well during this three game skid. We have to get that back going and clicking like it was early on in the season.
How do you go about teaching your guys to be better at rebounding?
GM: My concern right now is on the defensive end first. We are just giving up far too many second opportunities. It was a big reason why we came up short in the Northern Iowa game and in large part was a reason why Cal went on that run late in the first half and then on that run again in the second half that ended up putting us away. At times, we really were defending pretty well the first time around. Once we give up an offensive board, a lot of good things are happening for our opposition. That will be our focus today. Just competing a little bit harder on the backboards. I still don’t know if we’ll have everybody back. Whether we get Jamie back today, I think that is probably still doubtful. That has certainly factored into it. We have been one man down in that front line for the entire year. LaRon’s not in the position where he probably can play much more than he is playing until we can get him back in a little bit better shape.
Is it a toughness issue at this point?
GM: That’s part of it but there is a technique component to it as well that we have to fix. Sometimes the toughness can overcome a lack of technique. But if you are in the right place to start with, you really enhance your opportunities to get that rebound if you correctly block out. We have shown that we can do it at times. We just need to do it more consistently.
What are your thoughts on Iowa?
GM: I had a chance to watch a large portion of the Virginia Tech game. They played really good basketball in that game and put themselves in a position to win. They probably haven’t shot the 3-point shot as well as I know that they can shoot it and probably how Coach Lickliter knows they can shoot it. That is always concern. When I look at preparing for an opponent, I always try to find the times that they have played the best and what they are capable of when they are playing at a high level. Certainly, the Virginia Tech game and the first half of the Texas game were games where they were playing at a very high level and executing at a high level. That is what we have to get ready for. First and foremost, I hope that Coach Lickliter is okay. I haven’t been able to talk with him or connect. I have corresponded with his staff. Some things are a little bit bigger than basketball.
Can you talk about their style of play?
GM: It is very similar to the way that Saint Louis played, Northwestern played and Northern Iowa played. They are going to pick their spots to run. Otherwise, it is going to be a quarter court game where you are going to have to defend a portion of the shot clock. We have shown at times that we can be okay with that but we still have to be able to force the issue in transition whenever we get the opportunity. The last two ball games in particular it was difficult to do because we just didn’t rebound it well enough. You can’t have an affective transition game when you are struggling on the defensive glass. That is part of our offensive woes over these last few games. It has been a result of our inability to rebound and when you can’t rebound, it is hard to score in transition.
What individuals for Iowa have impressed you?
GM: Anthony Tucker is very capable on any given night of making a bunch of shots. I have always been a big Matt Gatens fan. I love the way that he plays and competes. He can be a tough match-up. They are playing him a little bit more at the three this year. They’re also playing him a little bit at the power forward position. They’ve basically got a perimeter player playing that power forward spot, someone who can drive it and shoot it. That makes match-ups a little more difficult on the defensive end and then on the offensive side, we have to try to take advantage of our size advantage at those positions.
When it comes to your own half-court and quarter-court offense, where do you need to improve there?
GM: We aren’t very efficient. Our movement has been lackluster, especially in situations where teams are making a run at us rather than to trust our system and trust our teammates, guys are trying to take it upon themselves to make plays to get us out of it. That is not necessarily a selfish approach, it is an approach that we have to change in the sense that when things are tough, you have to trust each other. You have to count on each other. You have to set that great screen for Lucca Staiger and hope that he comes flying off of there and then the game just got three points closer than it was. You know, go crack somebody as they’re trying to block you off and get an offensive rebound and stick it back. We are doing that at times. We just aren’t doing that consistently. In particular, when we are in the middle of a run by the other team is when we are struggling with that the most and that’s when you need it the most.
How big of a confidence booster would a win on Friday be after a little three game slide?
GM: I’m glad that you feel like it is a little three game slide because it feels much worse than that to me. We need to win. Winning cures a lot of things. Most importantly, we need to use these four days and we need to make some strides as a team. We are a team back on our heels right now. We are not a real confident team right now. When you lose a few in a row, that will do that to you, especially when it is early in the season and you’re dealing with a few guys who haven’t been through this before. We have to get past that. I think that we can. That will all start at 2:30 today.