Straight Shots From Welch Ave.

Last week was a busy week in Iowa State athletics, so that means it was busy for CN's publisher Chris Williams. After camping out at the Jacobson Building for close to nine hours on Wednesday, Williams attended all three Cyclone basketball games this weekend as well. Get his thoughts on the world of Cyclone athletics in this version of Straight Shots From Welch Ave.

McDermott Starts Off 3-0


So the new look Cyclones are off to a 3-0 start after sweeping the field in the Cyclone Challenge this weekend. When looking at the caliber of opponents, one might say "big deal." It is a big deal for this young team.


I saw a lot of things this weekend that gave me encouragement that this team will compete in the Big 12 this season. Not to win it of course, but to be a solid mid-pack team.


The first thing that impressed me was junior Michael Taylor. With Taylor in the lineup, this is a solid NIT team that can make a run. Without Taylor, this team is below average. To me, Taylor is a flashy, more athletic Curtis Stinson without the attitude. Stinson was stronger, but Taylor has all of the tools to do what Stinson did his first year at Iowa State. He obviously needs to take care of the ball a little bit better, but he's definitely the most talented scorer on the Cyclone roster.


While Taylor was the biggest surprise for me this weekend, Corey McIntosh was probably the biggest disappointment. I think he'll be fine, but it looks like he still hasn't fully bought into Greg McDermott's system, and you can't blame the kid after having an unstructured JUCO background. McDermott has been very hard on the point guard early on, and that will keep up until he sees improvement.


Jessan Gray was a pleasant surprise to me. On Saturday night against Louisiana Monroe, Gray had nine points in only 12 minutes of play. He's doing that all with basically one hand. On top of that, Gray has missed two weeks of practice so he's still not in game condition. He can only get better.


It wouldn't be right to talk Cyclone basketball without mentioning the two Johnson's. First of all, let me say this. Wesley Johnson is one of the most talented freshmen I have ever seen. He is a natural on the offensive end. He's lengthy, he can shoot, and his freakish vertical doesn't hurt anything. I think he'll struggle playing the four against Big 12 teams though.


Cory Johnson, like I've said all along is Greg Brunner, but a better shooter. There's something about when Johnson is out on the floor, this team just looks like they're tougher. The kid is a bruiser and he'll be a crowd favorite for the next four years at Iowa State.


Greg McDermott said after the game on Saturday that defense and rebounding will allow this team to be competitive. From what we've seen so far, this team has the attitude to do both of those things successfully.


Looking ahead, Iowa State's next three games are against: Norfolk State, @ Minnesota and Lake Superior State. Minnesota will be a test, but there's a chance that this team could start off the season at 6-0. Who's next? That would be McDermott's triumphant return to the UNI Dome one Nov. 29.


I know one thing, I can't wait.  


Thanks Coach Mac


Like many of his players over the years here at Iowa State, Dan McCarney impacted my life in a way that I bet he knows nothing about.


When I was a blurry-eyed freshman at Iowa State in 2003, which seems like forever ago, the first interview that I ever did with anybody was with arguably, the largest sports figure in this history of this great university. Dan McCarney.


Talk about getting my feet wet early.


I was a green reporter working for the school magazine, interviewing McCarney about my best friend Adam Carper. The piece was going to be a feature on the life of a high school football recruit.


I remember that day like it was yesterday. The interview was set on a foggy Friday morning at 8 a.m. I didn't sleep the night before. I was nervous, anxious, excited and flat out scared all in one. Not to mention I was in the dorms at that time and we all remember how they are on a Thursday night.


I showed up about 15 minutes early for the interview. Coach Mac wasn't in his office yet but his secretary Betty assured me that he would be showing up soon. Eight o'clock rolled around and there still wasn't any sign of the coach. Around that time the phone rang. It was Mac telling Betty that he was running a little bit late.


Of course, I was cool with that. Sooner or later the man walked in. We shook hands, introduced ourselves and went into his office.


I think I was more in aw of his office than I was of him. Jerseys, pictures, and awards were hanging all over the walls. For a sports junkie like myself, it was a pretty awesome sight.


We started the interview and for the most part I feel like I did a decent job for being a rookie. It's funny to look back on it now. I bet I said the word um about 50 times in that 20 minute interview.


As we wrapped up the interview, the two of us got up and approached his door to leave. Mac said as enthusiastically as ever, "nice job buddy, you were really professional, like you've been doing this for years."


If only Mac knew how much those words meant to an 18 year old kid trying to get a start in a very hard business.


For that single day, I thank you Coach McCarney. Thank you for making every person who you talk to, feel like they're the most important person in the world at that moment in time.


For that, you will be forever missed here at Iowa State.


No matter where my career takes me from here, that first interview with Dan McCarney will always be very special to me.


Thanks Coach.

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