- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 13, 2010

AMES, IOWA (AP) - It’s a good thing everyone in Ames knows Fred Hoiberg.

Hardly anyone knows anything about his players.

After a tumultuous offseason that saw coach Greg McDermott leave for Creighton and scores of players follow him out the door, the Cyclones bring back just three players with any experience this season.

Iowa State knew they’d be kicking off a new era when they lured Hoiberg, an Ames native known as “The Mayor” for his exploits with the Cyclones in the 1990s, from a front office job with the Minnesota Timberwolves to replace McDermott.

But this is some kind of mess Hoiberg is inheriting.

The youthful Cyclones were a unanimous pick to finish last in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll.

“You know what? We put that on the board the first day. These guys will take that as a challenge,” Hoiberg said Wednesday. “They’re going to go out there and try and prove people wrong, and hopefully we’re capable of doing that.”

It’s likely to take more than one year for the Cyclones to rebuild a program that was gutted in just a few short months. As expected, forward Craig Brackins left for the NBA and was selected 21st overall in the draft. Fellow starter Marquis Gilstrap, who averaged 14.9 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, was denied an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Then, promising young center Justin Hamilton said he wanted to play closer to home. He promptly transferred to LSU even though he’s from Utah.

Guards Dominique Buckley and Chris Colvin left shortly after the season, would-be senior Charles Boozer left to seek treatment for unspecified issues after an arrest in May and forward LaRon Dendy transferred in May.

That left Hoiberg with starting guards Diante Garrett and Scott Christopherson, oft-injured big man Jamie Vanderbeken and a host of newcomers.

Three new players, Penn State transfer Chris Babb, Southern Illinois transfer Anthony Booker and Michigan State’s Chris Allen, won’t be eligible until 2011-12. The NCAA has yet to announce a ruling on Minnesota transfer Royce White, who is hoping to have his transfer year wiped out so he can play right away.

Hoiberg found a stopgap guard in Jake Anderson, who was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA after graduating from Northern Illinois in four years while playing in just three.

Anderson, who scored 1,152 points for the Huskies, will likely play shooting guard and handle point guard duties when Garrett needs a breather.

Junior college transfer DeMarcus Phillips, also a combo guard, was one of the nation’s top juco players a year ago at Marshalltown Community College (Iowa) who could give the Cyclones a much-needed slasher in the backcourt.

Story Continues →