“Lucca Staiger can shoot.”
Those were the opening comments made by Iowa State men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott after the Cyclones traveled south to Des Moines and beat Drake 90-70, on Tuesday night in the Knapp Center.
In the win, Iowa State’s junior guard Lucca Staiger went an incredible 10-of-16 from 3-point range to score 32 points and break a school record in the process. Prior to this evening, the mark was held by Dedric Willoughby, who drained nine 3-pointers against Kansas on Feb. 9, 1997.
“He makes things look pretty easy against the defense that Drake plays because we have enough weapons out there, with Diante and Chris Colvin’s ability to break down the defense, especially in the first half.”
“In some ways, Marquis’ foul trouble was a blessing. Vanderbeken was in there and he can shoot the ball. I thought that his passing decisions were really key in that first half to free Scott and Lucca up for shots.”
While Staiger certainly stole the show for Iowa State, he did have some significant help. Two other Cyclones ended the game in double-figures. Craig Brackins went 10-of-16 from the field to score 22 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds.
“Craig was back to being the old Craig tonight, which it has been a long journey for him with his knee injury and some of the pressures that he is under to perform every single possession. It was good to see him with a smile on his face again,” McDermott said.
Along with the duo of Staiger and Brackins, there was Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson. The former Mr. Basketball winner in the state of Wisconsin scored 15 points, while going an efficient 5-of-9 from the field. The combination of Staiger and Christopherson at Iowa State’s off-guard position scored 47 points tonight for the Cyclones.
Other Important Notes
– Iowa State owned Drake on the glass. The Cyclones tore down 39 rebounds compared to Drake’s 21.
– Diante Garrett is a true point guard ladies and gentlemen. The junior recorded 11 assists against the Bulldogs while scoring six points and turning the ball over only three times.
– Iowa State recorded eight steals against in the contest.
– The Cyclones shot 60.9 percent from 3-point range as a team. They were 56.3 percent from the field.
Obviously this was a great win that I know meant a whole lot to members of the Iowa State basketball program. When you are Iowa State or even Iowa, coming to the Knapp Center is never an easy task. You’re the main event. You’re the team that every single person in blue circled on the schedule before the season began.
With all of that against them, Iowa State looked like a veteran, poised basketball team, that is destined to do some very positive things throughout the rest of the season.
It all comes down to depth. When one guy is down, it’s ineveitable that somebody else will pick him up. Greg McDermott’s options are limitless. Name a name. These guys can all score. Brackins, Gilstrap, Staiger, Christopherson, Garrett. Options, options, options. It’s a beautiful thing.
I’m not so sure that Christopherson hasn’t been Iowa State’s most valuable player so far in the regular season. He’s been consistent to say the least. He scored 15 tonight, led the team with 12 on Sunday and had 10 against Idaho State. When I interviewed Scott on Media Day, it was obvious that he had sort of an “eye of the tiger” thing going on. He was bound and determined to come out after missing a year and make some serious noise. He’s proven it so far in three games. Oh yeah…he’s not just a shooter either. He’s one of Iowa State’s best defenders.
Back to Staiger’s performance for a minute…Wasn’t it good to finally see him break out and shoot like that? We’ve heard so much about his game for so long. Tonight, he finally showed fans what he can actually do when he gets hot.
It’s been interesting to watch the battle for Iowa State’s backup point guard position to develop over the first five contests of 2009. It’s starting to become pretty clear that Chris Colvin has an edge over Dominique Buckley. Colvin played 11 mintues tonight compared to Buckley’s two. This is beginning to become a trend. Colvin saw 15 minutes on Sunday compared to Buckley’s eight. What a great problem to have too. I wouldn’t feel the least bit nervous if Buckley had to come in and play some serious minutes in an important game down the road.
I’ve been talking up Diante Garrett for the last month and I’m not about to stop after tonight’s performance. The guy is going to be one of the best point guards in the Big 12 by the time this year is over. His efficiency so far this season makes Brackins and Staiger (tonight) look good. Garrett was 3-for-5 from the field in the win. I don’t remember him forcing a shot so far in three games. He’s like a different player. That’s another giant positive that has come out of the first three games.
In the end, this was a great, road victory for a team that isn’t lacking any confidence. I sense a little bit of swagger when I look at the 2009 Iowa State Cyclone basketball team.
We haven’t seen that in a while.
Up next for Iowa State is Mississippi Valley State on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Hilton.