Coach McDermott: I would say yes because we have both the size and the athleticism. Coupled with that we also have some athletic depth that we haven't had since I have been here.
Cyclone Sports Report: How important is it that your team gets to play non-conference games against teams like California and Duke before the Big 12 season?
Coach McDermott: I have always believed that you have to try to build a schedule that fits the team that you have. It's no secret that this is the best group of talent that we have had since I've been here with nine returning players and some newcomers that really plug some of our holes. The great thing about these games is that we will find out exactly where we are as a team and where we will need to go.
Cyclone Sports Report: Is Marquis Gilstrap better than you expected?
Coach McDermott: He's everything we have hoped for and more. He's just so coachable and he's always wanting to improve which is not typical of a player that is already 22 years old. A lot of guys in that situation are set in their ways but he's the complete opposite.
Cyclone Sports Report: How much can expect to see Diante Garrett moved over to the shooting guard to become more of a scorer on offense?
Coach McDermott: It's going to depend on who the competition is each night. We'll look at the matchup and if it fits then we'll move him the wing at times because he really has an outstanding ability to get to the basket. It also depends on the continued development of Chris Colvin and Dominique Buckley.
Cyclone Sports Report: How has Craig Brackins changed as a player going into this season?
Coach McDermott: His approach in practice is more consistent and his leadership skills are much better than in the past. He's coming off an injury and he's just been real consistent with his effort and has really pushed himself to get better.
Cyclone Sports Report: Everyone knows that Craig is Iowa State's best post player. So when he comes out and nails his first three three-pointers of the season do you worry that sometimes he might become too perimeter oriented?
Coach McDermott: All our guys have freedom to make plays. I never want them to be hesitant because they become far more ineffective. We've talked and he knows how important it is for him to establish himself in the paint and he's really bought into that idea. The other thing with Craig is that he played last year at 217 pounds and now he's up to 233 pounds which has made a difference and I think that this factor will make it even more difficult to stop him in the post.
Cyclone Sports Report: What did you learn from the two exhibition games about your team?
Coach McDermott: I was pleased with our approach on the defensive end as we have added more pressure this year and are trying to play more aggressive. I think offensively they did a good job of playing to their strengths and taking the best shot. I like how the made the extra pass and overall I just think this is a very unselfish group.
Cyclone Sports Report: What is the one thing that must improve before Big 12 play begins if you want to compete for a conference championship?
Coach McDermott: Rebounding is a littler concern of mine because with the way we are spread out being aggressive on defense it doesn't always put us in the best position to block out. I also think we have to improve the pace that we want to play at throughout the game. We want to push the ball for forty minutes so guys need to come off the bench ready to go and they need to play with a fever pitch.
Cyclone Sports Report: I already asked you about Marquis Gilstrap. What is your take on the other newcomers so far?
Coach McDermott: Chris (Colvin) is like any freshman in that he's looked real good at times and he's also had some trying times. This is partly because we ask a lot out of him and really with playing the point guard there is just a lot of stuff that you have to know. He's really improved and we definitely expect a lot from him. Laron (Dendy) just really brings an athletic element that we haven't had and he will be big in taking some pressure off of Craig on the boards. Last year at times if Craig didn't get the rebound then no one did. Antwon (Oliver)will likely redshirt in order to develop his body more and I would guess that we would do the same with Bubu (Palo) and Alex (Dorr). Alex is kind of a wildcard right now because we're not sure yet what to do with him because of Jamie's (Vanderbeken) health.
Cyclone Sports Report: The expectations have been raised for this season ever since Craig Brackins announced he was returning. Do you feel entering your fourth season as head coach any added pressure to have a lot of success this season?
Coach McDermott: I don't think so because I have the same expectations of myself ever year. We haven't necessarily gotten to where I expected to during the first three years due to a variety of reasons. We know as well as anyone that this team could do some special things this year. If they stay on the same page and continue to have their team-first attitude then the sky is the limit.