Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lucca(fer) Staiger

Lucifer n: the devil; Satan

There’s a famous phrase in a movie that Iowa is known for which says, “Is this heaven?” Kevin Costner replies, “No. It’s Iowa.” ISU Coach Greg McDermott might beg to differ right about now. And Lucca Staiger is the latest demon to haunt his teetering program.

Lucca Staiger—the 6’5” shooting guard from Germany—decided on Tuesday that he was quitting the team, putting the already thin Cyclones (just 7 scholarship players active now) in a precarious situation. I thought all day about this, and here’s what I’ve concluded.

1. We may actually be a better team (this season anyway) without him—While Lucca had one of the prettiest three-point strokes I’ve ever seen, that’s ALL he had. He couldn’t guard, couldn’t drive to the basket, couldn’t even MOVE to the basket. I pulled more than one hair out this season watching him camp out on the wing. Scott Christopherson is a much more well-rounded player, and I think the offense (and the defense) could actually improve without Staiger.

2. Other than point #1, there’s really nothing else positive to say about this mess. Lucca knew what this team was up against, and making a decision to quit in the middle of it all is just about the biggest pansy move I’ve ever seen. Staiger says it’s about the money, and that his chances to play pro ball may not be there in 7 weeks when the season is over. He may be right about the last part, because the way he’s been playing, he may have worn out all his supposed value by the end of the year. YOU CAN’T QUIT YOUR TEAM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON!

3. How much at fault is McDermott? This is the question I’ve been troubled with all day. We may never know the answer. What we do know is, ultimately, Coach McDermott is responsible for recruiting, coaching, and winning. One of the biggest parts of recruiting, is not only to get good players, but players that will have good chemistry with each other and fit into the overall style of the program. That’s where I have a problem with Coach McD. He’s recruited good players, but not ones that are a good fit for his system or mesh into a cohesive unit. The other problem I see is there seems to be some kind of a disconnect between coach and players. There’s an undeniable pattern with Wesley Johnson, Chris Colvin, Brackins to some extent, and now Staiger.

And point #3 is where I finish. The question is, where does Iowa State finish? What does Jamie Pollard do? I had this discussion with a friend today that said he believes McDermott is “in over his head.” I hate to say it, but he may be right.

Iowa State basketball doesn't feel very heavenly at the moment. In fact, it's getting rather hot here in Cyclone country.

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