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Iowa Sports

October 28, 2008

Cyclone basketball team turns to youngsters

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State should make a killing selling scorecards this season. Once again, the Cyclones’ roster is loaded with newcomers.

Iowa State has just one scholarship senior, Alex Thompson, and two returning starters, forward Craig Brackins and point guard Bryan Petersen, back from a team that finished 14-18 last season and failed to reach the postseason for the third straight year.

Most pundits believe Iowa State’s postseason drought will continue this season. But while coach Greg McDermott was up late one night watching a poker tournament on cable, he saw one of the players go “all in” — and the proverbial light went off in his head.

The way McDermott sees is, that’s exactly what the Cyclones will need to do if they want to escape the Big 12 cellar.

“I felt like that made great sense for our team. If we’re going to be successful this year, we’ve got to have to have everybody from our coaching staff to our support team to every individual on our team willing to invest everything they have into our program,” McDermott said on Monday at the team’s annual media day.

Even McDermott can understand why the Cyclones aren’t expected to contend for a Big 12 title for the third straight season under his watch. Iowa State didn’t do much last season, going just 4-12 in the Big 12, and it doesn’t bring much back.

Center Jiri Hubalek and forward Rahshon Clark have graduated, and rising star Wesley Johnson shocked McDermott by transferring to Syracuse. Those three, along with Brackins, formed the core of last year’s team.

In their place are a number of unproven youngsters, many of them under-the-radar recruits. The Cyclones have five freshman this season, along with junior college transfer Jamie Vanderbeken, and some of them are going to have to step in and contribute right away.

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