Cyclones prepare for winless Southeast Missouri State


Photo: Manfred Brugger/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State’s Diante Garrett goes for the basket during the Cyclones game against California in Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, December 4, 2010. The Cyclones lost to the Golden Bears 76-73. Photo: Manfred Brugger/Iowa State Daily


After dropping two games to NCAA tournament teams from last season by a combined nine points, Iowa State will welcome Southeast Missouri State to Ames on Monday in an attempt to get the first win in more than a week.

The Cyclones (6-2) lost but kept things close in their first road test against rival Northern Iowa on Wednesday, and Saturday’s game against California was tight nearly the entire way, a positive sign for a team fighting through youth and a lack of depth. Five ISU players are still averaging double-digits in scoring and the team still has confidence in its ability score and stay with any team.

“We’re going to go out and play our style of basketball,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The balanced scoring that we’ve had just shows the unselfishness that this group has.”

Southeast Missouri State (0-8, 0-2 Ohio Valley) has struggled mightily to start the season and it isn’t a direct result of a difficult schedule, as the Redhawk’s have only played one Power Six opponent. There are only nine teams remaining nationally that are winless, and the men from Cape Girardeau, Mo., are among them.

Whether or not the Cyclones are tested by the nation’s 270th-ranked scoring offense on Monday isn’t as essential as getting good preparation for Friday’s contest against rival Iowa. Older ISU players were interested to see how the squad would respond to the loss to Northern Iowa, and Saturday’s effort against California showed the potential that this team might have this season.

“The great thing about this team is they don’t care who leads the team in scoring, they just want to go out and get the win,” Hoiberg said. “We talk about valuing every possession and taking care of the ball and we’ve done a terrific job.”

Senior Jake Anderson transferred from Northern Illinois to Iowa State this season and was allowed to play immediately as he was released from his scholarship by NIU. Anderson has stepped in as a leader and playmaker within the transitioning program, and has averaged 13.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game despite being just 6 feet 2 inches tall.

“He’s only 6-2, but he plays like he’s 6-6 or 6-7,” Hoiberg said. “The way that he has gotten to the basket, it’s amazing for a guy his size to go out and do that, and then to still have the strength and power to go up and finish inside.”

The Chicago native has led Iowa State in rebounding in five of the first eight games, and has been noted by fans and television announcers alike for his prowess down among the trees. Anderson had four offensive rebounds and six steals against Cal, all hustle plays that kept the Cyclones in the game.

“He just continues to go out and do all the little things,” Hoiberg said about the former Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year. “He’s a warrior.”

While the offense that the Cyclones are running to the tune of 79.1 points per game doesn’t run through Anderson, he and junior guard Scott Christopherson are the beneficiaries of a drive-and-dish approach that leads to 9.1 threes per night. That number is tied for 16th in the country.

“The style of play that we’re playing, we’re getting up and down the court and a lot of guys are making plays and I’m one of the guys that can make some plays,” said senior guard Diante Garrett. “I’m just having fun out there.”

The schedule for the next few weeks will be friendly to the young Cyclones, as after the Iowa game on Friday, Iowa State’s next three opponents have a combined record of 5-18.

The game against Southeast Missouri State tips off at 7 p.m. Monday.