MBB: Iowa State rounds out home season against Missouri

MBB: Iowa State rounds out home season against Missouri

MBB: Iowa State rounds out home season against Missouri

Chris Cuellar —

You’re finishing the touches on a mediocre date. Good looks, but uninspired conversation, and you’re not sure how to end the evening. There’s just one rule — don’t make it awkward.

Tuesday will be the last game for coach Greg McDermott’s squad at Hilton Coliseum for the 2009–’10 season, and with an unsuccessful Big 12 campaign and potential departures, it will be apprehensive goodbye for fans to the Cyclone players.

Likely postseason bound, the Missouri Tigers (21–8) are visiting to spoil Senior Night for the eleventh place Cyclones, and it will be up to the players that are in constant discussion for departure to ensure that isn’t the case. Iowa State lost to Missouri 65–56 in Columbia, Mo., in the team’s first meeting this season. It was a close match-up until the very end, and Iowa State fans hope that’s the case on Tuesday.

“We played a great game against [Missouri] the first time despite not shooting the basketball well, and still had an opportunity to win in the last three or four minutes,” McDermott said. “There’s a lot of positives that we can take from how we defended them the first time around.”

The only player being honored as a senior on Senior Night is Marquis Gilstrap, a forward that transferred to Ames from Gulf Coast Community College and has averaged 14.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in his only season wearing the cardinal and gold. Gilstrap scored 26 points in Saturday’s loss to Colorado, and has five Big 12 Rookie of the Week awards to his name.

“He made great decisions [Saturday], I thought the pace of his play was better, sometimes Marquis gets in a hurry and puts his head down and he’s getting to the rim whether somebody is in his way or not,” McDermott said.

The only other senior listed on the roster, forward Jamie Vanderbeken only saw action in 10 games before leg injuries sidelined him. The 6-foot-11-inch shooter has already been granted a medical redshirt, and will return to Ames on scholarship for next season.

Junior Craig Brackins has been in this discussion as a possible departure for more than 12 months, as the saga in the Spring of 2009 led to his return as a Cyclone. Barring a record setting Big 12 tournament run, his wish to participate in postseason play will likely go unfulfilled into the off-season, setting off more talks of the forward taking his wares and moving onto professional basketball.

If Tuesday were to be the last time Brackins put on his home jersey, fans would surely want to recognize the occasion, but the title “Senior Night” is manifest.

“It’s just been my experience that you honor your seniors on senior night. If they’re not a senior, then you don’t recognize them,” McDermott said. “If at the end of the season Craig sits down with his family and decides that he’s going to move onto a professional career, then we’ll have ample opportunities to honor him. I think senior night is for seniors.”

An opponent for fans will be deciphering which players will be returning next season for the team, and who will be leaving, but the opponent on the floor is a very capable squad that coach Mike Anderson likes to run at break neck speeds up and down the floor.

Atop the Big 12 in turnover margin by almost four turnovers more than second place, the Tigers occasionally dip into a full court press affectionately referred to as “40 Minutes of Hell”. The style implemented with tough guard play from Missouri players Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller may be able to wreak havoc on the thin Cyclone bench. Iowa State can hope that they took enough positives away from their defeat at tenth place Colorado to give their fans something to cheer about on the last home date of the year.

“After reviewing the Colorado game, I thought our execution when we needed it was as good as its been in a long time,” McDermott said. “We’ve got to try and take the positives and apply it to our practices.”

With seven players averaging more than seven points per contest and forcing opponents into just under 20 turnovers per game, the Tigers should give the Cyclones all they can handle. Iowa State has lost to Missouri five out of their last six meetings, but the Cyclones have been victorious in eight out of their last 11 Senior Night games.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.