The 2009-10 Iowa State men's basketball team will be going to the NCAA tournament. As sweet as that sounds don't be shocked if they also make some noise when they get there. Many people are now trying to figure out what the team's starting line-up will look like next season but in reality it really doesn't matter.
The Cyclones have one of the best post players in the country in Craig Brackins to build around and then they have an assortment of other front court players that will give them a lot of flexibility up front. If they need size and a developing post game they can turn to Justin Hamilton. I think a lot of people are underestimating what kind of impact he can have next year. He did an outstanding job as a freshman and is a very hard worker. I expect him to have a huge impact next season. If they need an athletic rebounder who can also score in the paint they can turn to junior college transfer Laron Dendy and if they need a big man who can shoot the three-pointer they can turn to Jamie Vanderbeken. The Cyclones also have red-shirt freshman L.A. Pomlee who should be able to add his rebounding and shot-blocking ability to the mix at times next season.
The player that will help Brackins the most up front next year will be Marquis Gilstrap and the two hopefully will form one of the best duos in the country. He can play the small or power forward at the college level but will likely spend most of his time at the small forward scoring a lot of points on both drives and from distance. The Cyclones will also be able to play Lucca Staiger at the small forward with some of their line-ups and Lucca should be wide open a lot more often this season with Brackins back and more guys who are able to create off the dribble.
In the backcourt the staff will be able to play a variety of combinations and most should be very solid. They will have three guys that can the run the point guard position in Chris Colvin, Diante Garrett, and Dominique Buckley. They also will have guys who can knock down the three pointer in Staiger, Scott Christopherson, and Charles Boozer.
Overall, this team will have outstanding depth and the staff will have the flexibility to match up with almost any kind of team that they play. Craig Brackins pointed out that there is "unfinished business" to be taken care of and due to a very solid roster, the Cyclones will have a great chance of taking care of business in 2009-10.
2)The Coaching Staff:
The fact that Brackins believed in this staff enough to come back for at least one more season is an outstanding sign. Coach McDermott has done a great job with developing Craig and I also think he is working his magic with Justin Hamilton. Due to the fact that Iowa State has not played in the post-season during his time at Iowa State, some outrageous fans have tried to blame McDermott and have stated that he just can't coach. They must obviously forget that Northern Iowa had only made the NCAA tournament once in school history before McDermott took them three straight times.
The reality of the situation is that McDermott has had to deal with some very bad luck during his first three seasons and now he will get the opportunity to really show what he and his staff can do. The expectations will be high but I fully expect for this team to live up to them.
Had the staff not had this early run of bad luck, the Cyclones would have almost for sure been in the NCAA tournament each of the past two seasons. Imagine two seasons ago if Mike Taylor, Lucca Staiger, and a healthy Wesley Johnson could have teamed up with Brackins. Does anyone really think that in only year two that McDermott wouldn't have had that team in the NCAA tournament? If that had happened it's very likely that Wesley would have never left and that Iowa State would have been back in the tournament again this year.
So now the luck has turned in their favor and I feel the Cyclone fans will get to see just how strong this staff is over the next few years. McDermott's staff is very underrated and I feel they will gain a lot more notoriety over the next few seasons as this program continues to build.
Coach Rutter who has been close for some head coaching positions has already helped land 2012 recruit Wesley Staten and Coach Otzelberger has been huge by being the point man in landing Craig Brackins and Diante Garrett. Coach Robinson, who was brought in this year has already showed his tremendous value to the staff by helping to land Chris Colvin and Laron Dendy.
Overall, Coach McDermott has put together a well balanced staff that has worked extremely hard to put this team together. Craig Brackins commented during his news conference on Friday about how much respect he has for this staff and next year when the team is heading off to the NCAA tournament it will allow them to enjoy the fact that all their hard work is paying off.
A lot of things impact recruiting and winning is definitely high on the list. Just imagine what Hilton Coliseum will be like next year when recruits come on visits and see an unbelievable atmosphere and the Cyclones winning. This is also a team that should be extremely fun to watch while winning and hopefully recruits will want to be a part of what they see when they come up for a game next season.
The Cyclones still have one more scholarship that they could use for next season or they could bank it and use it to try and fill the holes that will be left by losing Brackins, Gilstrap (with appeal he may be granted an extra year), and Vanderbeken after next season. The staff already has Jordan Dykstra lined up for the 2010 recruiting class but obviously will have to fill about two or three more scholarships for next year and then three to four more the next season when Garrett, Staiger, Dendy, and Boozer graduate. All the winning that the Cyclones do next year will not only impact the 2010 class but should provide the staff with a great opportunity to line up a lot of talent for their 2011 class.
While many traditional powers are making the long trek to Ames to see 2010 star recruit Harrison Barnes, he won't have to go very far to see an outstanding Cyclones team next year. Will it be enough to keep the Ames superstar in his own backyard? Only time will tell on this question.
As was already mentioned, Wesley Staten has already committed to be part of the 2012 class but as many schools have found out over the past few years, early recruits don't always end up sticking to their commitment. My guess is that Staten's commitment will only be strengthened by what he sees next year. Will outstanding freshman guard Marcus Paige be ready to join his friend in the 2012 class once he sees Brackins and the Cyclones playing at a very high level? I don't know but what I do know is that thanks to Craig Brackins deciding to stay with Iowa State that Cyclone fans will be treated to one of the best and most exciting seasons next year.