ISU seniors come to end of the road


ISU guard Chris Allen reacts after scoring early in the second half of Iowa State’s 87-71 loss to Kentucky on Saturday night in Louisville, Ky. The Cyclones opened the second half on a 15-4 run, including this Allen score, tying the game at 42-42. Kentucky then went on a 20-2 run and would lead by as many as 24 en route to the win.

Jeremiah Davis

Chris Allen sat in the locker room, somber and thoughtful. Between questions from the crowd of reporters surrounding him after the ISU men’s basketball team’s 87-71 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament, the senior stared into space, pondering his answers.

After four years, two Final Fours and one last run with this Cyclone team, his collegiate career was over. When asked about what this season meant to him, Allen made it simple.

“It was just a great memory,” Allen said. “All year [it was great], just playing with a great player in Royce White.”

Now the Cyclones must move on without him and fellow senior Scott Christopherson, who ended his career No. 1 on the all-time ISU 3-point percentage list at 44.3 percent.

Both Allen and Christopherson played key roles on this year’s squad, and their teammates recognized that after the game.

White, who Allen pointed out after the game, spoke glowingly of his senior teammates and what they meant to the program.

“They meant everything,” White said. “Leadership was a big part of what we did this year. Chris Allen and Scotty — I told them all season long that I wanted to give everything I could for them. That’s what it’s all about is tradition and legacy.”

The sophomore — who is pondering his own future — lamented the end to his teammates’ collegiate careers, in that he wished he could’ve done more for them.

Their longevity and hard work, White said, should be rewarded. While he was happy he was part of helping get the team and program to a place it hadn’t been in seven years, he was still left wanting.

“Seniors pay their dues,” White said. “Scotty spent four years in Ames. He was able to get to a place this year that he hadn’t been before, so I’m happy for him for that. But it still hurts that I couldn’t bring them a little bit further.”

Those dues included more than 1,000 career points for both Allen and Christopherson; Allen — the majority coming at Michigan State — ended with 1,231 points, 414 of those coming as a Cyclone. Christopherson, who scored 24 total points while at Marquette, finished his career with 1,130 points.

More than just points, ISU players said Allen’s NCAA tournament experience  was vital to the team’s success. Guard Bubu Palo, who played behind the two as they split time at point guard, also said their leadership was invaluable this season.

“They were great senior leaders,” Palo said. “They were our big brothers. Whenever we needed something, whenever we were hurt, they’d always lift us up, be our rocks.

“For the guys coming back, we need to build on the leadership and the foundation they set [and] continue to build on what we did this year.”

Coach Fred Hoiberg said all season he and the team leaned on the experience the two seniors brought to the team, and week after week praised the two for their work ethic and example they set.

That example, Hoiberg said following the team’s elimination from the NCAA tournament, will need to be imitated if the Cyclones hope to achieve what they did — or more — next season and beyond.

“Those guys had a great year [this year] for a reason,” Hoiberg said. “Their work ethic showed our young guys how hard you have to work to do something in college basketball. It’s tough to go out there and be that successful without that work ethic.

“When your two seniors are your best at that, it falls on everybody else.”