Cyclones flying high to start the season


POSTED: Sunday, November 23, 2008

Iowa State will soon discover if past success in the island chain continues tomorrow night against host Hawaii.






        When: 7:05 p.m. tomorrow


TV: KFVE, Ch. 5


Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM



The unbeaten Cyclones (3-0) of the Big 12 basketball conference have never met the Rainbow Warriors, but have won 10 of 12 in the Aloha State, including three at the 2005 Rainbow Classic.

None of that concerns Cyclones coach Greg McDermott, who arrived in the 2006-07 season. No players or visiting staff members are left from the Classic title team.

“;We're trying to build a program, and we're trying to build it in a very good league,”; McDermott said. “;And that takes time, and we think we've got the foundation in place - now we're just trying to take steps forward.”;

Both Iowa State and Hawaii have seven new players from last year.

Hawaii shook up its starting lineup last Monday against Idaho State, inserting forwards Adhar Mayen and Brandon Adams in place of Lasha Parghalava and Petras Balocka. But by the end of the overtime win, Hawaii coach Bob Nash leaned most heavily on Kareem Nitoto, Parghalava, Mayen, Roderick Flemings and Bill Amis.

“;With a new team, I'm looking for five guys that's gonna work really hard together when they're out there on the floor,”; Nash said. “;We got seven new guys, so we gotta find ... guys who will go out and do what we ask them to do consistently, and I thought the five guys we started gave us that best chance. At halftime we found that wasn't necessarily the case and needed to throw a couple more guys in there.”;

“;I think like us, there's a lot of new players and they're trying to learn their system and find out exactly what roles guys are playing,”; offered McDermott, who also voiced concern about Hawaii's running game.

While Hawaii has struggled in its flex-motion offense so far - the Rainbows have dealt only 33 assists against 57 turnovers - the Cyclones have found success behind the post play of 6-foot-10 sophomore forward Craig Brackins.

Brackins averages 17 points per game on 53.7 percent shooting. The team's second- and third-leading scorers, Wes Eikmeier (12 ppg) and Jamie Vanderbeken (9.7) have not started a game yet but are deadly from 3-point range.

The Cyclones have size at every position and don't hesitate to fire away from deep. ISU averaged 10.3 3-point makes per game at a 42.5 percent clip in sweeping through the World Vision Classic. UC Davis, Loyola Marymount and Wisconsin-Milwaukee all failed to crack 35 percent shooting against the Cyclones.

Long-range shooting was one of several Hawaii weaknesses in the first three games. Also, backup point guard Hiram Thompson has remained out at practice with a pulled hamstring. Nash sounded doubtful about his chances to play tomorrow.

But Balocka feels better about the team's outlook after several practices since the narrow Idaho State win.

“;We had a few tough practices and I think, you know, we just have to realize what is at stake and we have to take things more serious,”; Balocka said. “;Cut down the turnovers and the little mistakes that causes us to lose games.”;