With the recent departure of Cory Johnson from the men's basketball program, one can't help but feel just a bit concerned about the status of the Iowa State basketball program. Cory was/is one of those guys who gave 110% effort on the court, and isn't a kid that would normally complain about playing time. In all likelihood, he recognized a situation where the coaching staff wasn't willing to give him minutes because they didn't trust him on the court.
Either way, it is yet another defection during the McDermott regime. And, while Cory was originally a Wayne Morgan recruit, he was one guy who many thought would blossom under McDermott's highly touted "big man development skills." It never happened though, and the front line gets a little thinner.
So, should we be concerned about where our program is? McDermott was brought in to be the guy that brought stability to Ames and would help develop the program. But, in the last two years, the program has been stagnant at best, while experiencing massive player turnover. One could say that most of the players were either Wayne Morgan's recruits, or were guys that the staff took a chance on to plug a hole, but, again, his job is to build stability. It hasn't happened.
Next year is, according to athletic director Jamie Pollard, "year one" of McDermott's coaching tenure, because of the massive problems in the basketball program. And, while there were difficulties to be sure, it was his role to stick his finger in the hole that was leaking water.
Recruits Jimmy Butler and Jamie VanDerBeken, both from Tyler CC in Texas, are currently in Ames. It is vital that Iowa State locks both of these guys up for an ever-shrinking front line. Is it unreasonable to expect for ISU to make a postseason tournament next year? Should it have been unreasonable when he was hired? Here's a projected opening lineup:
But who knows if that will hold. Wes is also a possibility to play at the 4, while a guy like Wes Eikmeier or Sean Haluska could find some starts. Or maybe, if Butler or VDB commit, they'll crack the starting lineup. Either way, a team that was drastically hurting for offensive firepower last year will need massive contributions from a guy like Staiger.
I was never a big fan of the McDermott hiring. I know he'll represent ISU with class, but he's done little to give us hope just yet with regards to recruiting and actual results. Comments that he has issues connecting with players are worrisome. The fact that there's rumors that more will leave is even more so. I just hope that Jamie Pollard picked the right guy, because the trend of Cyclone basketball certainly isn't a positive one at the moment.