Williams Blog: Gut check time

What’s going on today Fanatics? I hope that you all are staying safe here on another awful Iowa January day. That’s if you’re reading from Iowa I guess. If you’re not, consider yourself lucky.

Today, I’m going to start something new here at From here on out, I’m going to submit a daily blog entry on our front page. Basically, my goal with this is to let you, the Cyclone Fanatics of the world, know what is on my mind every single day. I’ll primarily focus on Iowa State athletics but be forewarned that I will venture into other topics every now and then.

When I write “daily blog” in the title, be advised that there will not be an entry seven days a week. But every day that I work on, I’ll write a blog. Some days the piece might be 300 words. Some days it will be over 1,000. This obviously will depend on what is happening in the cardinal and gold world that we live in. Deal? Sounds good. Let’s roll.

One tough loss

I guess today is the perfect time to start this thing isn’t it? Last night just seemed like it was one kick to the ‘you know what’ after another for Iowa State fans. The prelude to Iowa State’s showdown with the Blue Devils featured a match-up between Syracuse and Memphis. We all know why watching that particular contest wasn’t pleasant. I don’t really need to go down that road do I? We’ve all been there and done that. It’s time to move on.

Then, the Kansas game covered up like five minutes of the Iowa State-Duke second half. The Clones have one game in the spotlight and of course, Bill Self and the top-ranked Hawks had to be losing Cornell on the same night at the same time. I’m not blaming ESPN for putting that game on. It was a huge story in not only college basketball, but also the entire world of sports. It just royally stunk for Iowa Staters.

So the Cyclones then lost to the fifth-best team in America last night by 21 points. Some Fanatics referred to the performance as embarrassing. Some were pleased with the intensity that the team showed at points in the contest.

I wasn’t shocked by the way that things went down. Never, at any point in this young season have I thought that Iowa State would win that game. I told you all that yesterday in my preview. Duke is a Final Four caliber basketball team. Iowa State simply is nowhere near that level at this point in time. That isn’t me being negative. It’s very evident.

But the hot storyline today seems to be Greg McDermott’s post game comments in reference to Chris Colvin on the Cyclone Radio Network. If you didn’t hear the post game show, here is the quote that many in the Cyclone Nation are buzzing about today.

“He did some great things off the floor but some of his antics off the floor have got to change,” McDermott said. “If they don’t change, I am not sure that it is going to work. I am just going to be honest with you. He is a very talented player. But this is a team sport. We’ve got a few guys who don’t understand that all of the time. It is our job to get that through.”

Something is obviously wrong. It is very out of character for Greg McDermott to go on the Cyclone Radio Network of all places and mention an individual like that without good reason. It’s just not him. He doesn’t have a track record of doing things like this and really, this came out of nowhere. I don’t know what it is, but something is going on behind the scenes.

The Colvin situation is only one issue. Craig Brackins is another. His numbers have dropped significantly since last season. Brackins averaged 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore. This year, those numbers are at 17.0 and 7.9. With the addition of Marquis Gilstrap, that alone doesn’t surprise me. This isn’t about numbers though. It’s his body language that isn’t encouraging. By no means am I pointing one finger at Craig and Craig alone. He’s not getting the ball when or where he should. He’s visibly frustrated and I can’t see that as anything but a negative for this team, when you factor into the equation that he is the guy who this group of Cyclones looks up to.

It’s gut check time for the 2009-2010 Iowa State men’s basketball team Fanatics. I’m not just talking about on the court either. Whatever these things are going on that the causal fan has no way of knowing, they need to be cleared up now, before it is too late. Big 12 basketball starts in less than a week. Next Wednesday, the second-ranked Texas Longhorns will roll into Hilton.

I’ve written/said on KXNO over the past week that even with a loss to Duke, Iowa State still very much has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. I’m still not going to back away from that thought. A 21-point loss to Duke is certainly not a season killer. Heck, Mark Few and the ever-popular Zags lost to the Blue Devils 76-41 on Dec. 19 on a neutral court.

The problem is, with the three-game losing streak earlier in the year combined with last night’s showing, Iowa State has no cushion at all heading into league play. In fact, because of recent seasons, they probably never had one to begin with. If this team wants to even entertain the thought of dancing in March, the turnaround absolutely has to begin on Saturday.

What this team now needs is a big, convincing win over North Dakota State. It has been since the Drake win since this roster has shown any sort of swagger at all. A royal thumping of the Bison definitely wouldn’t cure the team’s noticeable chemistry problems, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. That’s not going to happen unless everybody, from the coaches, to the managers, to the players themselves are all on the same page.

Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register is reporting this afternoon that the Cyclones are currently stuck in Chicago due to bad weather. Maybe a little bonding away from Ames is exactly what this team needs.

Shontrelle Johnson

News broke yesterday afternoon that Iowa State’s latest football commitment, DeLand, Fla. running back Shontrelle Johnson has now been offered a scholarship by Florida. Stories like this usually do not end well for Iowa State. I base that thought off of prior experiences while covering recruiting and I have no inside information at all into this particular story. If he wasn’t a Florida kid, that’d be one thing. Sure, we can sit here and point out the obvious question marks surrounding Urban Meyer and what not but again; he’s a Florida kid. He’d have an opportunity to play right away next year at Iowa State for a rising program, but that isn’t always enough. I know one thing and that is that the Cyclone Nation would welcome a young man with his special talents to Ames any day.

Here’s a link to the Orlando Sentinel’s article if you haven’t seen it. “I’m gonna check it out,” the paper quoted Johnson. “It kinda shocked me but I don’t really know since it came so late in the season. You gotta check it out, it’s Florida, they got national championships and all that…but there are positives and negatives.”

I was blown away when I watched Johnson’s highlight reel that I posted here on the site this past Saturday. He looks like a very complete prospect that would fit in perfectly with this new Iowa State system.

If you haven’t seen that highlight video yet, CLICK HERE. The best advice that I have for you all is to keep your fingers crossed but at the same time, don’t hold your breath. If Johnson stays committed, consider that a very large bonus in the already stellar 2010 Iowa State football recruiting class. With or without Johnson, the coaches have done a great job when piecing together this specific group of prospects.

Do you think he’s seen that one YouTube video yet?

That’s it for today. Until tomorrow, stay safe and warm Cyclone Fanatics! It is a nasty one out there.