Iowa State braces for life without Vanderbeken


Photo: Bryan Langfeldt/Iowa Stat

Jamie Vanderbeken attempts to work around the Oklahoma defense Saturday. The Cyclones lost their fourth-straight game at home 82-76.

Jake Lovett

It’s not easy to replace a 6-foot-11-inch Canadian.

However, that’s exactly what ISU coach Fred Hoiberg will have to do with his big man, Jamie Vanderbeken, unable to play Wednesday night at Texas A&M.

“[Vanderbeken]’s a guy that does a lot of unique things,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a big part of what we do offensively and to not have him in there will definitely change things.”

Vanderbeken suffered a sprained ankle in Saturday’s 89-66 loss to then-No. 1 Kansas on Saturday, and Hoiberg said Monday that the big man’s return was “a longshot.” Tuesday, it was confirmed Vanderbeken didn’t make the trip to College Station.

Without Vanderbeken, the Cyclones will be without the 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds he’s averaged through the first 25 games; a big chunk for a team that will have seven available regulars Wednesday night.

Hoiberg said Vanderbeken will continue to receive treatment on the ankle leading up to Wednesday’s game, but it is uncertain how the injury would react.

“We’re going to have some young guys that are going to have to step up,” said guard Scott Christopherson. “We’ll miss Jamie, but hopefully he’ll get back as soon as possible.”

Among those young guys will be freshmen Jordan Railey and Calvin Godfrey. Godfrey will be playing in his first game since serving a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules.

Saturday against Kansas, with Vanderbeken out of the game, it wasn’t uncommon for Hoiberg to play smaller, four-guard lineups against the much larger Jayhawks.

“Outside we did some different things through a couple of different wrinkles and shot the ball very well,” Hoiberg said Monday. “Guys are going to have to step up and do some things that we haven’t done a lot of so far.”

Forward Melvin Ejim — who stands at 6 feet, 6 inches — saw time as the Cyclone center Saturday, something that likely isn’t out of the question Wednesday.

However, with Vanderbeken’s shooting touch missing — he’s shot 43.7 percent from behind the 3-point line this season — opposing defenders were much more likely to sag into the lane, changing the ISU offense.

Saturday, Iowa State hit on 43.8 percent of its tries from 3-point range, but it wasn’t enough in the 23-point loss.

“When you’ve got your center shooting threes, that brings their center out to the perimeter, which creates a lot of driving lanes for us,” said guard Jake Anderson. “Once he was out of the game, the driving lanes really closed up and we were forced to shoot a lot of threes and they didn’t fall our way.”