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Basketball

Outside the men’s room: Senior night

By Kirk Haaland, CycloneFanatic.com Blogger Perhaps the most unique senior night in recent memory will be upon us tonight, with the only two seniors on the roster and both at least have the opportunity to return next season. Jamie Vanderbeken is seeking a medical red-shirt that he at least appears to be likely to receive and Marquis Gilstrap will apply for an extra year of eligibility, though he may be destined to leave anyway.

Along with those two names, junior Craig Brackins will also likely be playing his last game tonight in Hitlon Coliseum. His return to the Cyclones hasn’t gone as planned this year and it’s hard to imagine his return for next season. Maybe it’s from the lack of success I experienced in my high school playing days (back to back 6-16 seasons isn’t all that impressive), but I have a soft spot for the guys who give it up for their program and never get the chance to experience much winning. Craig’s career and this specific season haven’t gone as hoped in the W/L column.

Craig is nearing the 1,500 point echelon in his career and has not only played his butt off for ISU but he made the risky decision to return for this year when he could’ve headed to the NBA draft last year. He deserves to have the fan support of some of the best fans in the country for what is his likely sendoff. We’re all disappointed with how this season has played out. Probably more disappointed than a first time visitor to Hilton is when they realize a Clone Cone is vanilla ice cream without a hint of strawberry. I’m disappointed, you’re disappointed, the players are disappointed, the coaching staff is disappointed and the administration is disappointed.

Maybe you don’t want to attend the game because you’re trying to send a message to Pollard and the athletic department that you want to see a change made with McDermott. That’s fine and you have that right, but Craig and the seniors deserve to be sent off the right way without the gaping holes throughout the parquet. So go to the game and if you still feel the urge to make a statement then send an email to Pollard, I’m sure he’d appreciate your input. And if you’d rather stay home to watch “Lost,” there’s nothing I can do to help you.

The contract and the silence Note: This section was actually written BEFORE the massive Internet rumor mushroom cloud that hit on 3/1/10.

I think we all know what the conventional wisdom has been on the likelihood of McDermott returning for his fifth season, with a cash strapped athletic department, it isn’t all that likely to splurge the $2.5 million for his buyout. But here are the dots that I can’t help but connect in my mind:

Dot #1: Jamie Pollard has said nothing on the matter of giving his vote of confidence for McDermott. At roughly this time last year on the coaches show, Pollard made the infamous claim that last season was really McDermott’s first with how things had gone up to that point. That got the message board mafia stirred up pretty well. For an athletic director that isn’t exactly shy with the media it is at least a little strange to me. If there was 100 percent chance in his mind of bringing McDermott back for next year, then why would he not have come out by now to say that there won’t be a change?

Dot #2: The aforementioned conventional wisdom is that McDermott will be back for next year because of the buyout situation. But here’s my question. If $2.5 million is too expensive to go for the buyout this year, is $2 million going to be that much cheaper next year? Meaning that if the plan was certain for McDermott’s return, wouldn’t that lead you to believe it will be at least two or three more years?

Dot #3: The affordability of the buyout is a bit of a sliding scale. Depending on ticket sales—mainly season tickets—the issue for Pollard to figure out is when does the lost revenue in the men’s basketball program outweigh the cost of the buyout. In a perfect world that scenario would actually never occur, the athletic department should beat it to the punch (such as with the McCarney “resignation”).

When I connect the dots I’m led to believe that maybe McDermott’s return isn’t as certain as we have believed all along. My best guess is that Pollard is running the scenarios and crunching the numbers in his mind. The buyout is expensive, but so are empty seats. One thing is absolutely certain. If a move is made, the right coach has to be hired. While the program could spiral deeper into irrelevancy with McDermott, it would be far worse with a new coach, while still paying McDermott’s buyout.

Women’s winning ways Just when you think that Bill Fennelly is headed into a rebuilding year, he takes an All-American point guard, a scrappy do-it-all “point-combo-forward”, some ace 3-point shooters and three freshmen post players to a top 15 ranking and a possible—if not likely—a two seed in the Big 12 tournament. The coaching staff and players deserve heaps of praise for not only the season that they’ve had, but how much they have progressed from November to present day.

The women are most importantly playing for seeding purposes in the NCAA tournament. They are likely headed for anywhere from a three to a five seed (with an outside chance at a two seed if they were to win the Big 12 tournament). Iowa State has the big advantage of hosting the first two rounds at Hilton Coliseum. I would honestly sign up for just about any seed in the NCAA should they be slotted in the Kansas City region. The home court advantage for the Cyclones in that situation would be extremely beneficial. The biggest road bump in that scenario is the phenomenal season that Nebraska is having. They have probably already locked up a one seed with the undefeated season they have put together thus far, and have played their way in to “geographic favors” in the committee’s eyes. Yet, there is still a lot to be decided on the matter.

Back-to-back-to-back-to-back?

The wrestlers will be going for a fourth straight conference title this weekend after sweeping the regular season meets against Big 12 competition. Last year’s was a “kiss your sister” championship (tied with Nebraska) and should provide some motivation this time around in Stillwater. It will be tough to come out on top with Oklahoma State in chase on their home turf.

The NCAA qualification criterion was released last week and essentially ISU should be well off to get all 10 wrestlers into the NCAA’s. Dalton Jensen and Andrew Sorenson are probably the two most in question, but Sorenson would be likely to qualify by wild card if he doesn’t perform well enough at the Big 12 Tournament. Jensen will likely have to win one match at the conference tournament to solidify his spot, but he should have a decent chance to make National’s.

Trivia time Craig Brackins is nine points away from having recorded 1,500 points and 700 rebounds in his career. Can you name the other five Cyclones that have reached both of those milestones? (No Google!)