By Kirk Haaland, CF.com blogger
Another men’s basketball departure in Lucca Staiger and another wave of attacks has been launched by a sect of fans on the abilities of Greg McDermott to retain players.
The trend of losing players didn’t start with Greg McDermott though. It has been way too big part of the ISU men’s basketball program for nearly two decades now. I combed through the men’s basketball encyclopedia available on cyclones.com to compose this list of players who left before exhausting their eligibility. I only counted guys that either had at least a moderately sized role on the team or were expected to had they stayed longer. I didn’t include the likes of Marcus Fizer (who left for the NBA) or Stinson who was likely leaving for the NBA no matter what. I also left guys like Cameron Lee off the list.
This certainly isn’t meant to be an attack on any of the past coaches at ISU. It is however meant to defend Greg McDermott who is under siege from the message board haters.
Tim Floyd, 1994-1998, 11 Players
• Paris Corner • Jerry Curry • Jason Kimbrough • Lee Love • Lamont Sides • Delvin Washington • DeAndre Harris • Joe Hebert • David Hickman • Carlo Walton • Shelby Walton
Larry Eustachy, 1998-2003, 9 Players
• Brandon Hawkins • Tim Barnes • Chris Alexander • Shane Power • Ricky Morgan • Adam Schaper • Thomas Watkins • Tommie King • Adam Haluska
Wayne Morgan, 2003-2006, 5 Players
• Tasheed Carr • Shawn Taggart • Aaron Agnew • Robert Faulkner • Reggie George
Casualties of the Coaching Change
• Will Blalock • Mike Evanovich • Farnold Degand
Greg McDermott, 2006-Present, 12 Players
• Cory Johnson • Ross Marsden • Dodie Dunson • Mike Taylor • Corey McIntosh • Wesley Johnson • Marcus Brister • Clayton Vette • Wes Eikmeier • Clinton Mann • LA Pomlee • Lucca Staiger
Now, McDermott is certainly having players leave at an alarming pace, but let’s look at each of the individual cases and see if a trend can be established directly linking blame to McDermott. It is my contention that he has had more bad luck than anything else and that the McDermott haters use that in their data as to why the team attrition only falls on the shoulders of our head coach. It’s true that he is ultimately responsible for everything about the program, but with many of these issues, I just can’t place blame on him.
Cory Johnson – Was recruited by Wayne Morgan and McDermott retained his commitment. He played for two seasons—more so as a freshman—and transferred to Valparaiso when the writing was probably on the wall that he wouldn’t see much for playing time over the next two years.
Ross Marsden – Another Morgan holdover, but he played a season for Morgan and a season for McDermott before deciding to give up basketball altogether. He stayed at ISU and played on the club baseball team.
Dodie Dunson – A member of McDermott’s first recruiting class had a very exceptional season as a freshman. The root cause of his transfer has never “officially” come out but is commonly believed to be linked to ISU not meeting his academic needs.
Mike Taylor – His story is well documented. Taylor has since said that being kicked off the team turned his life around to some extent and he still has a close relationship with Coach Mac.
Corey McIntosh – Another member of McDermott’s first class that was quickly assembled upon the coach’s arrival. McIntosh left after one season—his junior year—to lower division Augustana. He played a large role in his one season though many fans considered him a liability, I considered him to be mostly solid. The main rumor I heard about him leaving was that he didn’t get along well with Mike Taylor. I have no idea how much truth there is to that.
Wesley Johnson – We know the story here.
Marcus Brister – Stuck around for about a week of the season before heading home. His role was probably going to be pretty limited. McDermott had an extra scholarship in the spring before and a need for another point guard so he brought in Brister. Not the most devastating transfer, but it didn’t help any either.
Clayton Vette – He basically followed the same timeline as Brister yet left because of an apparent home sickness while he lived two hours from Ames. He had to do what he thought was best for him, hard to blame him for that. I think very few know or will ever know the full story (me included).
Wes Eikmeier – He transferred after one season and seemed to be the type that could help out down the road. The problem being that he seemed to not want to go to the work to develop his body to be able to play in the Big 12.
Clinton Mann – His story is similar to Cory Johnson minus all the playing time. He was a very good high school player in the Kansas City area that was probably brought in to see what he could do. He just wasn’t cut out for it, so he left.
L.A. Pomlee – Kicked off the team a couple of weeks ago after a full redshirt season and half a season of very limited playing time. He would’ve had a chance to contribute down the line.
Lucca Staiger – We know the story here as well. It would’ve been best for everyone involved had he just left last off season.
So, now here’s the question of the day. How many of those can you attribute to faults of Greg McDermott given the facts that we all have? Mann, Eikmeier, Brister, and Taylor all had a known issue of some sort during the recruiting process that could lead to transfer. Of course, they also had upsides that would lead a coaching staff to believe they could develop into contributing players in the program. Vette was similar, but he was also an Iowa kid that seemed like a tremendous pick-up so late in the recruiting game. Marsden and Cory Johnson were inherited players that just didn’t work out, not to a fault of McDermott.
The biggest issue that has hurt the perception of the McDermott led program stem from his first recruiting class. McDermott had to take some risks on that class and basically none of them paid off. McDermott has since said he would reconsider how he went about things and in hindsight it would’ve maybe been best to work with the hand he was dealt as opposed to bringing in risky recruits that could set the program back even further.
The attrition has been at a phenomenally high rate, but it is unfair to go out of your way to blame every departure solely on McDermott. He definitely has some responsibility in all of them in some way, but in many of these situations, McDermott isn’t the lone bad guy. Looking at the facts, which departures can you place the majority of the blame on McDermott? There aren’t many in there for me, especially if you throw out that first recruiting class that he hastily put together so he would have some semblance of a team.
Hopefully this one more instance of adversity bonds this team and they come out fighting like hell. Go beat Tech and let’s gear up for Kansas!