Yesterday, Iowa State head basketball coach Greg McDermott met with members of the media where he broke down what happened over the weekend in Chicago and also looked ahead to tomorrow night’s contest with Northern Iowa.
Here’s everything that McDermott had to say.
We were exposed to a lot of things this weekend. Some of which, I certainly expected from Saint Louis. In our preparation, I knew that it would be the type of game that it turned out to be. Nothing really comes easy against a Coach Majerus coached team. Transition was hard to come by, especially in the first half. As the game wore on, I thought that we did a better job of loosening that up and getting out in transition and getting some run outs and really, that 13-0 run in the second half was the difference in the game in large part, due to our transition.
The Northwestern thing was tough for our guys. It is not the type of team that you want to play with no preparation. A lot of the mistakes we made could be attributed to some of our new guys who have never been in a position like that before to defend that offense. We did the best that we could with the time and the gym space that we had available to us on Saturday. We put ourselves in a position to win the game. Offensively, we missed some shots that I am going to take most times in that situation. Really, it was our defensive breakdowns that were critical. You don’t talk about time of possession much in basketball but we spent most of that first half down on the defensive end and I think that wore into us as time went on.
Do you agree with Craig’s assessment that he needs to go stronger to the hoop?
GM: There were times that he did go to the rim and he just didn’t finish. Craig missed a wide-open two-handed alley-oop dunk. That just doesn’t happen. That was a sign that maybe things just weren’t supposed to work out for us, when that one didn’t go down. I thought that he did a decent job of running the deep-post up and mixing up, going to the rim and shooting that fade-away. I am not going to discourage him from shooting that because he has proven over the test of time that he can effectively make that shot. If Craig goes to the line 10 times in a half, he is being aggressive. He got 10 free throws in the second half. Unfortunately he missed a few of them. The same goes with some of the shots that he was able to get. They just didn’t go in for him.
Is it getting easier for you to play Northern Iowa as time moves along?
GM: I don’t know that it is ever easy. There is a connection there that I will have for the rest of my life. It is even going to change more next year when my son goes to school over there. This one will probably be easier than the next four. That is for certain. Ben is a great friend of mine. That has been well documented. That is never going to change. It’s just like on the golf course. I want to beat his tail every time I play him. Wednesday night is no different. He feels the same way about me.
You’re familiar with their system. How important is having an experienced team with what they are trying to do?
GM: Experience is key in college basketball. It is key in any sport frankly. They obviously were playing great basketball at the end of the season. Not many teams win the Valley and the Valley Tournament. They took a great Purdue team right to the wire in the NCAA Tournament. Those guys are virtually all in tact. They are a year older and a year stronger. They have even a better understanding of the system. They are at the point right now where through five games, they probably haven’t shot the ball as well as they would have anticipated. I think that the Boston College game was probably a true indicator of what they are capable of when their offense is really clicking. You have to defend the whole floor. They have guys who can shoot it. They have two veteran post players inside and a great point guard. They have all of the makings to have a great season. Without question, it is the best team that we have played so far.
This is an uneasy game for you. There have been Iowa State coaches in the past who have said that they would consider dropping Northern Iowa. Where are you at on that?
GM: I liked the game a lot better when I was at Northern Iowa than I do today. It is important for the people in the state. I understand that. When the programs are strong like Drake and Northern Iowa have been, it doesn’t hurt our chances for post-season play. It actually enhances them. If we were in a situation where those two programs were really, really down and we needed an opportunity to play some BCS teams and add that to our schedule, that might be another thing. I don’t see that happening. They have two great coaches and two good programs. It is actually a positive for us to play them.
How do you think they might try to guard Craig?
GM: We will find out because we are going to get him the ball. We will see what happens. Some teams choose to double with another post player. Some teams come off the top and help with a guard. Last year they played him one-on-one and he had a night where he was hard to stop. He had some of those same shots against Northwestern on Saturday and they didn’t go in. I know Coach Jacobson well enough to know that he’s got more than one plan. We’re going to see some different looks. We just have to adjust to it. Someone mentioned earlier that Craig has done a good job of learning to get the ball out of the post to find an open shooter or find someone diving to the basket. If there is a double-team, we’re going to try to make them pay for it.
How is LaRon Dendy doing?
GM: He’ll see the doctor this afternoon. I don’t think it is as bad as the last time. Whether he’ll be able to play on Wednesday night or not, I don’t have an answer to that yet. I just watched the play again on film this morning. He just got blocked out and got hit at a weird angle. He tweaked the knee exactly the same way he did when he hurt it the first time. I know that it really scared him. There was some swelling there but we don’t think it is as severe as last time.
Is anybody else injured?
GM: Marquis has been fighting bronchitis. Craig is starting to come down with something too. It is that time of the year when the weather is starting to turn colder where things run through your team. For the most part, we are relatively healthy. Hopefully it stays that way. We played seven games in 15 days. What it does to you physically is one thing but we’ve thrown seven different game plans at these guys in 15 days, some of them overnight. That’s a lot to handle mentally as well. Yesterday, I think was a refreshing break for them. We have a tough week this week with Northern Iowa and Cal. We just have one game next week. Our guys desperately need some time when they aren’t getting hammered with something new mentally as well as physically.