Bob Sundvold Q&A

Iowa State recovered from a slow start at Hilton Coliseum to beat Colorado Wednesday night and improve to 7-8 in Big 12 play. However, the Cyclones still face one more huge test in the regular season, traveling to Texas Tech Saturday. That, and other ISU basketball issues, were discussed on KXNO Thursday afternoon when assistant coach Bob Sundvold joined our publisher on the radio.

Deace: We've said good-bye to a good group of seniors that have been through a lot these last couple of years. Not to mention Marcus Jefferson and some poetic justice, he's come back and had a tough senior year. Not the year he envisioned. He's overcome some academic difficulties, dealt with the death of his mother last spring and he's trying to find out what his niche is after all these transitions have gone on in his life. To come out, and I'm not saying that basketball is as important as the death of a loved one or getting your degree, but it was nice to see him come out and cap off his career like he did last night by really inspiring you guys on with his play.

Sundvold: Like you said, it was senior night and those are always interesting basketball games because you never know if they're going to be emotional or what guys are going to do. Marcus had a tremendous game and you went into all his trials that he's had. The thing I would tell you about Marcus is that he's really grounded in who he is. He knows that he's the father of a little daughter over in East Chicago, Indiana and he knows that he's going to take care of her the rest of his life and he's also a student.

He's doing all those things and he took a little leave from our team because there were things that he had to work through. A lot of it following the death of his mom last May. One of the things that we've talked to him about, he didn't really allow any time for grieving. As soon as his mom passed away, he was right into some things going on this summer. I don't think he got a lot of time to sit back and figure out who he is and what he's going to do. He's come through this and been a very good leader.

It's a tribute to Wayne and the fact and really the fact that Marcus would come back, face up to things and say I'm here to help, I don't need to play one minute. I want to practice and help Will and some of these younger guys. He's been great.

One of the things that we're finding about him, he got some offense for us which he's been able to do. He is so good in our zone, the question now when we see film is the side of the zone now, he really takes care of it. He locks it up and makes some great defensive plays as well as offensive. Last night, the play of the game was probably his drive to the basket. He threw a pass along the base line to Jake who hit a three and kind of opened the game up for us. Just a great performance.

Another thing is that we started Justin at point, Jake at the two guard mark, Marcus at the three, Vroman at the four and those seniors had an 8-2 lead when we subbed. A great tribute to the stick-to-it-ness and the competitiveness of Skogs. These guys don't get many minutes, but they sure came to play last night.

Deace: About Jackson Vroman, he's shown so much improvement from the start of the season until now.

Sundvold: Here's the thing about Jackson and why he'll be a pro. He hasn't had a lot of experience. He played basically a half a year in high school and then he goes to junior college to get his feet wet and then comes here. I think whether it's Europe or NBA or whatever, what he'll do over the course of the next ten years, he can have a good career and he can really do some things.

What I've liked in the last five games, we talked about last night that he's playing at a high level. Well, his high level is not only physical – scoring points and getting rebounds and getting numbers,. He's at a high level right now mentally and little things that used to bother him at the beginning of the year where he'd reach and get a foul or react to a guy over his back, he's not into that anymore. I think that's the maturing player and that's a guy that's really gotten himself to a level you hope for as a senior.

I think it's just great that the things he's been able to get done every game are something new. Instead of getting frustrated when they're double-teaming him, he's able to ball-fake and make a great pass out of it. I know what the NBA scouts like. They don't care about scoring for him. They really love the way he runs, the way his feet work on defensive and his hands and how he can move the ball on offense. He's got a chance to have a great career.

Deace: Where is he in terms of the rest of his life. Obviously this is a young man that's had some issues off the court and there was a lot of controversy around the decision to bring him back for a second and a third chance. To give him another shot to complete his senior season. A lot of us in the media, and I'll put myself in there, really questioned that decision. I talked about that before the year. I feel somewhat validated by the way he's played. The last time I was up on campus, I saw him going to class, which is a good sign. Is he ok academically? Have you seen him really mature and take advantage of this opportunity that you guys gave him to get his chance back in the fall.

Sundvold: I think taking advantage of this opportunity may not be the right word. I'll tell you what he's doing, I think he's justifying to himself of who he is and what he can do. What's funny is that we went through this this summer with him and I've spent a lot of time talking to him and his father about this. Part of this whole game is marketing and perception and the last year Jackson Vroman with the long dyed hair wasn't really Jackson Vroman. This guys got so angles and things that he can talk about and a wide range of interests and I told him he was giving off an image that people can't even fathom who you are.

I think this year what you're seeing is a guy who is really finding out that he can be himself and be a guy that go on campus and mix with different kinds of groups. He's not just a jock, he's not a nerd, and he's not a guy that parties, he's not a guy that has abuse problems. He can mix with everybody. He's a wonderful guy to have on your team because he crosses every barrier with every guy. The thing that he's done is to allow himself to show this is who I am and our players love him.

The conversations that he gets into with everyone from Reggie George to Jake Sullivan, they are all very interesting. He's a very bright kid. I was telling his dad yesterday when he came by the office that he should be proud. Jackson can do anything he wants and that's up to him to choose what he wants to do about it. One other thing while we're on Jackson, is about Iowa State.

I've been coaching a long time at different institutions, but last night, the game is about over, a minimum of 35-40 people sought out Brett Vroman to thank him for his son being there. My wife was close by so she saw all this take place and she told me about it. Is that not unbelievable? That's our fans and I think it really validated Brett and he loved being here to watch Jackson play.

Deace: One last thing on Wayne. I've been running the stat on you all year that you have to go back to Clyde Williams in 1908, the first year of Iowa State basketball to find a rookie coach that has gone above 500 in the conference his first year. Clyde was only 1-0 in conference play that year. There's only four other ISU coaches that have 500 in the league. You've got to go back to 1960 to the last time that happened with Glenn Anderson. There's only two other ISU coaches that have won as many as seven conference games in their first year.

Sundvold: Those are great stats. Hopefully we can win on Saturday and put Wayne in great company!

Deace: I know that Wayne is upset and a little disappointed that we in the media, including me, about hearing about the road losing streak and I'm tired of talking about it, you guys are tired of thinking about it as well. Obviously, we're disappointed after we come in after all these road games and these losses. The road losing streak is kind of an element unto itself. Over all, the season that you guys have had and the way that you've been able to establish this program on the run when you and Wayne in particular, eight months ago weren't even sure that you'd have jobs after the Eucstacy scenario, you guys ought to be commended with what you guys have done this year. Regardless of what's happened on the road, to beat some of the teams that you have beaten. You have numerous wins over teams that have been in the top sixty of the RPI, several wins over top 25 teams, you've protected the home court and made that special again. You beat Iowa, you have a shot for 500 in the league. Overall you guys have had a very good season, even if it does not end in a NCAA tournament birth.

Sundvold: Well, thank you. You know, I think that our guys are still in a frame of mind that this can work and we can still play in the tournament. We know what we've got to do and one of them is to win on the road. We have to beat Texas Tech on Saturday and that really starts our NCAA tournament.

We know the chore ahead. I think this, go back to when we were talking about Wayne, I think the great thing, without getting into Xs and Os and the great things that fans would want to visit about, I think the best thing that they should sit back and truly appreciate is that this ship has been managed and is floating in good water. I think that that's important especially this time of year.

AllCyclones Top Stories