Finals are over! Thank the Lord. Cyclone basketball fans have had to wait over a week between home games. Iowa State beat rival-Iowa way back on Dec. 11 by an 81-71 final, to improve to 7-3 on the young season.
Next up are the 5-4 Bradley Braves. Will the Cyclones improve to 8-3 on Sunday afternoon?
Let’s break it down.
Breaking down the Braves
If you research “up and down college basketball team” in the dictionary, a big fat picture of the 2009 Bradley Braves will pop up immediately.
If you’re trying to get a grasp as to how good this team is, don’t bother. Looking at what they’ve done so far against individual opponents tells you nothing. The Braves beat Illinois on Nov. 28. That was impressive. What about home losses to Western Carolina and Loyola-Chicago? Not so much.
The Braves did play another Big 12 opponent earlier this season when they lost to Oklahoma State, 68-57, on Nov. 27.
One thing that we do know about Bradley is that they will be determined and hungry upon entering Hilton Sunday afternoon. The Braves recent 68-65 loss to Loyola-Chicago came via a half-court buzzer beater.
Taylor Brown, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, who is averaging 15.3 points per game this season, leads the Braves. Brown scored 21-points in that loss to the Cowboys. That was his career-high. Two other Braves average double-digits in scoring. Chris Roberts has totaled 10.7 a game while Andrew Warrant has averaged 13.4.
Bradley is the third Missouri Valley Conference team that Iowa State has seen this season. The Cyclones beat Drake by 20 and lost to Northern Iowa by three at home.
Interestingly enough, the Braves lead Iowa State 8-4 in meetings between the two schools all-time. The last time that these two teams locked horns was in 2007, as Bradley beat the Cyclones 65-56, in Peoria. This is the third and final year that these two teams will play under their current contract with each other.
Bradley’s probable starting lineup (according to Cyclones.com) Will Egolf: 6-9 So. C – 6.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG Taylor Brown: 6-6 So. F – 15.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG Sam Maniscalco: 6-0 Jr. G – 9.4 PPG Chris Roberts: 6-4 Sr. G – 10.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG Andrew Warren: 6-5 Jr. G – 13.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG
Breaking down the Cyclones
Finals were the big story in Ames all week long. That is until news broke about Laron Dendy’s trip back home to South Carolina on Thursday to take care of a family situation.
Dendy practiced with the team today and will be in action against the Braves tomorrow. Dendy is certainly a big part of this Cyclone basketball team, but that thought is based more on potential than anything. In five games this year, Dendy has averaged 6.4 points per game while playing 12.2 minutes per contest. This is all while fighting back from a knee injury that Dendy suffered in the second game of the season. I’m not taking anything away from Dendy, the basketball player. He’s shown all sorts of signs that he is a breakout player, just waiting to burst out of his shell. Dendy has all of the tools to be a solid Big 12 basketball player. Greg McDermott has spoken numerous times about how good of a defender that he can actually be.
Yesterday, Iowa State fans had a right to be very concerned with Dendy’s future. His very presence could dictate if this is or isn’t an NCAA Tournament team. This one turned out well for the Cyclone Nation and more importantly, LaRon Dendy’s family.
Another thing for Iowa State fans to keep an eye on is the status of point guard Diante Garrett. Garrett twisted his ankle while practicing on Wednesday night and has been complaining about a nagging pain in his pinky toe. On Thursday afternoon, Garrett told me that he’d be good to against the Braves. With Garrett being a little banged up, this could be a great opportunity for Chris Colvin and Dominique Buckley.
McDermott on the Braves
“I know a lot about them because we played them a couple of years in a row. They have a lot of those same players still on the roster. They have some experience in the guard-court. They are stinging after a couple of close losses at home. The run a lot of ball screens, much like we saw in Iowa, only I think that Bradley’s contention is to get to the basket more while Iowa tries to shoot the 3-point shot off of that ball screen.”
Iowa State’s backcourt will be challenged in this game by an experienced group of Bradley guards. Chris Colvin played his best game in a Cyclone uniform against Iowa he’ll need another strong performance on Sunday.
Iowa State should win this game and I think that they’ll do it convincingly.
Iowa State 80, Bradley 69