Cyclone Seniors are Ready to Go

Anthony Davis and John Neal didn't have the type of junior years that either one of them wanted or expected.

Davis went down with a season ending shoulder injury on Jan. 26 against Kansas State. Neal just couldn't get back to the form that he had during his sophomore campaign, but has worked harder than ever during the off season. The adversity hasn't stopped either one of these seniors from heading into 2005 with the highest of expectations.


Along with Dustin Streff, Neal and Davis are the lone seniors on this year's squad, and they are looking forward to leading this team throughout thick and thin.


Davis was averaging 4.6 points per game before he went down last year. It was painful for him to sit and watch his teammates play the rest of the season and Davis can't wait to get back on the floor this year.


"Oh my god, words can't describe how bad I want to get out on the court," Davis said. "Words can't describe. Only actions can tell, and you'll see."


Though he wasn't playing at the end of last year, Davis sensed the opportunity that he would have in a leadership role coming into his senior season while watching everyone else last year.


"I knew teaching these guys was going to be fun and it's turning out to be exactly what I thought," he said. "I expect to play a major role in offense, defense, practice and just being a leader. Everything associated with being a leader. Just being there for all of these new guys."


According to Coach Wayne Morgan, Davis hasn't missed a step from his injury last year. In fact, Morgan is expecting big things from Davis this season.


"Anthony Davis has had a terrific four days," Morgan said. "He's really improved. He's in shape. His shoulder feels good. He really playing hard and playing well  He is another guy that in between drills is going over to the freshmen and the new guys and explaining to them what to do and how to do it. He is a leader in that respect also."


Look for Davis to play a large role for the Cyclones this season. Especially in three-point shooting. Last year before his injury, Davis made four three pointers in two different games so he can shoot the long ball.


Neal wasn't hurt last year, but Neal hopes to go out on a high note during his senior season. Last year, Neal hit five three pointers in one game against Wagner. That game marked Jon's career high of 16 points. Neal's family has a rich tradition at Iowa State. His father, Brian Neal was a four year starter for the Iowa State Football team from 1977-81 and his little brother Patrick has committed to play for the Cyclones next year also in football.


"We take great pride in Iowa State athletics," Neal said. "We've been fans all our lives. It's a great deal and it's great whenever you can have a family member or someone involved with Iowa State like that and it's great to be a part of."


Unlike Davis, Neal has been a Cyclone for all four years of his career and Jon admits that the time has absolutely flown.


"I have some really good memories," he said. "I'm hoping to finish out with a strong season."


Neal is a role player that has proven he can knock down the three in pressure situations. Ask Steve Alford and the Iowa Hawkeye's of two years ago. But this year Neal's role on the team is somewhat uncertain while heading into the season.


"I think that Jon is a very good shooter," Morgan said. "I think that sometimes he might have put a little too much pressure on himself and we've talked to John, not about being a designated shooter, but we've talked to John about being a basketball player. I've talked to him about trying to really get out and run the wing on the break and help us that way.


"He didn't shoot the ball his freshman year, but he would go to games and do a really good job defensively on guys. I would really like to see him do a good job defensively in terms of shutting certain guys on the opposition down. Then I would like to see him really get out on the wing and I think if he would worry about some of those other things, than his shot would fall right into place. He's worked very, very hard in the off season to even get better."


Neal is excited to get back out there and make a run at the Big 12 and he believes the Cyclones are good enough to do just that.


"We have high expectations of ourselves," Neal said. "We have to work hard. We have to do the things we need to do to become a better team. I'm going anything I can trying to fill a role in the team. I'm really working hard."


Along with Neal and Davis, Streff is also entering his senior season as a Cyclone. Streff began his college career at NIACC and averaged 3.2 points per game. He was the recipient of the Pete Taylor Mr. Hustle Award in 2005.


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