Six Reasons To Come Watch Iowa State Take On No. 6 Mississippi State

TOP COMPETITION

1. Iowa State’s showdown with No. 6 Mississippi State on Saturday is one of the best non-conference games ever in the history of Hilton Coliseum. The Bulldogs enter Hilton Coliseum as the highest ranked non-conference foe since 1990 when the ISU men’s basketball team took on No. 6 Indiana. Therefore, it’s been over a quarter of a century since Cyclone Nation has gotten this caliber of a home non-conference showdown. On the women’s side, Iowa State faced fifth-ranked Iowa in 1989 – 27 years ago.

Mississippi State finished last season with a 28-8 record and advanced to the Sweet 16, falling to eventual national champion UConn. The Bulldogs have one of the nation’s best players in Victoria Vivians, who was given multiple preseason nods and was recently named to the Naismith Trophy watch list. Vivians is currently averaging 14.4 points and 2.4 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.

MSU is one of 29 teams in the nation with an unblemished record at 7-0. As a team, Mississippi State is outscoring its opponents by 27.4 points per game.

 

SEANNA JOHNSON VS. COMPETITION

2. Seanna Johnson always brings her ‘A’ game on the court, but there’s something to be said for her production against some of Iowa State’s top opponents.

Seanna Johnson in 2015-16

Opponent   Points   Rebounds    Assists

Vs. Iowa       22           10                     5

Vs. OSU        16           13                     2

At Texas       23           6                        4

At OSU         22           9                        6

Vs. Baylor    22           4                        2

Johnson never fails to step it up when the moment calls for it. The proof is in the stats, which is why you won’t want to miss Johnson take on the Bulldogs on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum.

 

PROTECT THE STREAK

3. Iowa State is looking to protect one of its longest running streaks against the sixth-ranked Bulldogs as it has won 96-straight regular season non-conference games. That’s correct. Iowa State has not lost a non-conference game since 2003. That’s 12-straight years of unblemished home non-conference records.

Iowa State’s last home non-conference loss was against Washington when the Cyclones fell 76-55 on Dec. 21, 2003.

A 96-game streak is tough and you don’t get to 96 without a few scares along the way. Check out a few of the closest calls over the last 12 years.

  • Iowa on Dec. 11, 2015 – ISU wins 69-66
    • Intrastate rivalries are always tough, but Iowa State’s win over Iowa last season was one for the ages. The Cyclones trailed by as many as 11 in the third quarter. Johnson would take over in the fourth quarter, netting 11 of ISU’s final 18 points to take the lead and the win.
  • North Carolina A&T on Dec. 29, 2009 – ISU wins 66-62
    • The game was neck-and-neck throughout and with the score 53-52 in favor of the visitors, Alison Lacey netted a 3-point play to give ISU the lead for good. Kelsey Bolte would seal the victory with a pair of free throws to give ISU its final margin, 66-62.
  • No. 20 Vanderbilt on Jan. 3, 2009 – ISU wins 55-51
    • With 28.9 seconds remaining and a 52-49 lead, Lacey buried a pair of free throws to give the Cyclones the five-point lead. A Vanderbilt layup on the next possession threatened the Cyclones, but Heather Ezell launched the inbounds pass to Lacey, who evaded foul before sealing the victory with a free throw go up 55-51 with 6.9 seconds left.

With all of those close calls came a great deal of “Hilton Magic,” which is why it’s even   more important to pack the arena on Saturday when No. 6 Mississippi State comes to town.

 

ATTENDANCE

4. It’s no secret that Iowa State women’s basketball is home to one of the best fan bases in all of women’s college basketball. The Cyclones have enjoyed a top-10 attendance ranking for the last 17 years. Iowa State has also been in the top-5 for the nine-straight seasons.

Our attendance is something Cyclone Nation takes pride in – and should. Even some of the nation’s best women’s basketball programs finished outside of the top-10 in attendance last season. Here are a few of the nation’s best teams who finished outside the top-10 in attendance from the 2015-16 final rankings:

  • 9 Ohio State at 14th in the nation (5,239)
  • 5 Maryland at 15th in the nation (5,229)
  • 6 Mississippi State at 16th in the nation (5,162)
  • 12 Oklahoma at 19th in the nation (4,769)
  • 14 Texas at No. 28 in the nation (3,700)
  • 8 Florida State at 35th in the nation (3,141)

Saturday’s game against Mississippi State will air on FSN, and it’s another chance to showcase Hilton Coliseum and our amazing fan base to a national audience. Plus, the more fans supporting the Cyclones, the more “Hilton Magic” to spread around!

 

DEFEATING NO. 3 TEXAS

5. We’re taking a stroll back to 2014-15 for the fifth reason you should some see ISU take on MSU on Saturday. It was Jan. 10, 2015 and the Cyclones had a tall task ahead of them as the nation’s third-best team was set to come to Hilton Coliseum. The Texas Longhorns entered the game undefeated and had already beaten the likes of Stanford, UCLA, Tennessee and Texas A&M. The Cyclones didn’t flinch, and gave Texas one of the best games Hilton Coliseum has seen.

Facing a 17-point second-half deficit, Iowa State began to slowly chip away from the Longhorn lead. With 0:17 on the clock then-senior point guard Nikki Moody drove to the basket and had every intention of taking the shot, but as the Longhorn’s top player Nneka Enemkpali loomed over Moody, she dished it to Johnson who netted the eventual game winner, 59-57. With seconds remaining, Texas had 0:17 remaining to win or tie the game as the Longhorns missed three-straight shots to seal the victory for Iowa State. The game would go down as one of the most electrifying games Hilton Coliseum had seen in recent memory.

There were many who didn’t give the Cyclones much of a chance against Texas, but with a great game plan and a little “Hilton Magic,” Iowa State proved the doubters wrong.

 

DOWNING NO. 3 BAYLOR

6. Just as Texas had entered Hilton Coliseum earlier in 2014-15 with the No. 3 ranking, Baylor found itself facing the Cyclones on Senior Day. Iowa State played a strong game against the third-ranked Lady Bears, going toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s best.

The game would come down to the wire with Iowa State leading by one point. Baylor’s Niya Johnson drove to the hoop, but her shot didn’t fall and Brynn Williamson secured a tough rebound. Williamson quickly got the ball to Kidd Blaskowsky, who found Johnson in transition for a layup, forcing a BU timeout. On the ensuing possession, Ellis stole the ball from BU’s Alexis Prince and a Moody layup on the other end to put ISU up five, 76-71. The three Cyclone seniors combined for 48 of ISU’s 76 points.

With that being said, we hope you’ll take the time to come cheer us on and ‘Bring the Magic’ on Saturday when we face No. 6 Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. Don’t forget to wear gold as Saturday serves as ISU’s Gold Rules game.

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Hoops Update (11-10-16)

Let The Games Begin!

We are set to begin the 2016-17 season on Friday, November 11. Check out the women’s hoops update below to get informed about the upcoming season.

Cyclones Add Two For 2017-18

The Iowa State women’s basketball team welcomed two to the family on Wednesday as guard Rae Johnson and center Kristin Scott signed on to play for the Cyclones beginning in the 2017-18 season. The duo both hail from Minnesota and are the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked prospects in the state. Both also rank in the top-100 nationally by ProspectsNation.com.

Check out what head coach Bill Fennelly had to say about Iowa State’s newest additions:

Check out the full release on Scott and Johnson’s signings:

 

Johnson Set To Begin Senior Season

Seanna Johnson

It’s hard to believe that standout Seanna Johnson is already a senior, but Johnson enters her final season with the Cyclones with the chance to further cement her place in the record books. Check out where she stands:

Career Points List

17th      Nicky Wieben                     1,248

18th      Jolene Leseman                 1,201

20th      Anna Prins/Anne O’Neil 1,186

21st       Colleen Peterson                 1,158

22nd    Seanna Johnson           1,156

 

Career Rebounding List

4th         Tonya Burns                       821

5th         Jayme Olson                       872

6th         Tracy Gahan                       823

7th         Janel Grimm                       813

8th      Seanna Johnson             797

 

 Career Rebounding Average

1st          Stephannie Smith             10.0

2nd        Angie Welle                         9.2

3rd       Seanna Johnson             8.9

#RecordWatch

In Friday’s season opener be sure to watch for a few milestones as Johnson is just three rebounds away from 800, which would make her the fastest Cyclone to 800. Angie Welle, who is ISU’s leading rebounder, accomplished the feat in 95 career games.

Johnson is also just three points away from passing Colleen Peterson for 21st in school history in career scoring (1,156).

Buckley Back at Point for the Cyclones

Jadda Buckley

Redshirt junior Jadda Buckley returns as the point guard for the Cyclones for 2016-17. Buckley enters the season as the top returning point guard in the Big 12 with 301 career assists. Her 301 career assists also places her 33rd in the nation for active career leaders and 10th among “power-5” schools.

In the ISU record books, she is just 37 dimes shy of passing Cyclone great and recent Hall of Fame inductee, Megan Taylor, who sits at 10th all-time in ISU history with 337 career assists.

Career Assist list

7th         Tracy Gahan/Tracy Horvath    415

8th         Heather Ezell                               414

9th         Tracy Eckert                                390

10th      Megan Taylor                               337

Jadda Buckley                                     301

SEASON OPENER FESTIVITIES

There will be a lot going on at Friday’s season opener, which is set for Noon on November 11 against UCSB. First, Hilton Coliseum will play host to over 3,000 students from across the Ames and Des Moines area who will come to cheer on the Cyclones as a part of Field Trip Day. Prior to the game, the students will take in an anti-bullying presentation as an educational component for their field trip. Head women’s volleyball coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, volleyball student-athlete Suzanne Horner and head women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly will serve as speakers for the anti-bullying presentation prior to the game.

November 11 is also Veteran’s Day and Iowa State has scheduled the Air Force Drill Team as a halftime act. Admission is free for all veterans.

Other Cyclone Notables:

  • Freshmen Nia Washington, Sofija Živaljevic’ and Adriana Camber are set to make their official debut against the Gauchos. Camber will don a Cyclone uniform for the first time as she did not dress for the exhibition game.
  • Johnson earned preseason recognition from the Big 12 coaches, as she was named the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
  • Iowa State begins the 2016-17 season with the Big 12’s top returners in points, rebounds and assists as Johnson ranked second last season in both points (17.0) and rebounds (9.4), while Buckley averaged 6.0 assists.
  • Iowa State is also the only Big 12 school returning three student-athletes who averaged over 10.0 points per game last season (Johnson-17.0, Carleton- 12.0, Buckley-11.4).
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True Freshmen Stars

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AMES, Iowa – It’s become rather evident that the future of Cyclone football is in solid shape with the outstanding play from a number of freshmen this season.

A total of 14 freshmen, including six first-year rookies, have seen action this season for the Cyclones, contributing to the team in their own unique way.

Iowa State’s trend of playing true freshmen has been minimal in recent years. In the previous three seasons (2013-15), only six first-year rookies saw action on the field (2013: Nigel Tribune; 2014: Allen Lazard, Colin Downing, Jauan Wesley; 2015: Carson Epps, Joshua Thomas).

With six players fresh out of high school (JaQuan Bailey, Jamahl Johnson, Deshaunte Jones, David Montgomery, Kene Nwangwu, Steve Wirtel) making contributions, the Cyclones are breaking that trend.

The success of these Cyclone future stars has also affirmed the incredible job Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell and his staff did corralling one of ISU’s best recruiting classes in their first two months on the job.

Here is a closer look at the accomplishments of ISU’s true freshmen competing this season.

 

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JaQuan Bailey

JaQuan Bailey- DE, 6-3, 260, Jacksonville, Fla.

Bailey was one of ISU’s highest-rated recruits in the class of 2016 and it’s no shock he’s already found his way into the rotation. Bailey has played in all five games, recording four tackles and tying for the team lead in sacks with 2.0. His 2.0 sacks already rank in ISU’s freshman top-10.

Iowa State Freshman Sack Leaders
1.     6.0, James Reed, 1997
2.    5.0, Nick Leaders, 2002
3.    3.0, Jason Berryman, 2003
3.0, Darrin Trieb, 1986
3.0, Rashawn Parker, 2006
6.    2.5, Kevin DeRonde, 1998
7.    2.0, JaQuan Bailey, 2016

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Jamahl Johnson

Jamahl Johnson- DL, 6-1, 318, Savage, Minn.

True freshmen playing in the interior defensive line is a rarity, but Johnson’s size and ability has already impressed the coaching staff enough to insert him into the rotation. He’s played in four games this season and appears to be a mainstay in the middle of ISU’s defensive front for years to come.

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Deshaunte Jones

Deshaunte Jones- WR, 5-10, 175, Cincinnati, Ohio

Electric. It’s a simple word to describe what Jones displays at wide receiver this season. Jones has 10 receptions for 192 yards on the year, leading the team in yards per catch (19.2) and TD receptions (3). He’s scored three of his TDs in the last two games and the super frosh looks to be hitting his stride. His big-play ability has been instrumental to the Cyclone offense, leading the team in 40-yard receptions with three.

Iowa State Freshman Receiving Yards Leaders
1. 833, Todd Blythe, 2004
2. 593, Allen Lazard, 2014
3. 477, Darius Darks, 2008
4. 322, Robbie Minor, 1983
5. 311, R.J. Sumrall, 2005
6. 277, Andy Stensrud, 1997
7. 236, Geoff Turner, 1994
8. 232, Quenton Bundrage, 2012
9. 212, Jim Knuth, 1979
10. 192 Deshaunte Jones, 2016

 Iowa State Freshman Receiving Touchdown Leaders
1. 9, Todd Blythe, 2004
2. 3, Deshaunte Jones, 2016
     3, Allen Lazard, 2014
3, Andy Stensrud, 1997
3, Sedrick Johnson, 2008

montgomery_david16baylor11

David Montgomery

David Montgomery- RB, 5-11, 222, Cincinnati, Ohio

Montgomery joins Jones as a future Cyclone star from Cincinnati. Montgomery has been superb in backing up the Doak Walker Award candidate Mike Warren at running back, rushing for 79 yards on 21 carries. He’s also caught two passes for 20 yards and scored his first career TD last week vs. Baylor. The last Cyclone star running back from Cincinnati? All-American Dwayne Crutchfield, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 1980 and 1981.

nwangwu_kene16baylor

Kene Nwangwu

Kene Nwangwu- RB/KR, 6-1, 188, Frisco, Texas

Nwangwu has carried the ball 11 times for 37 yards this year, but this rookie has made the biggest impact on special teams. Nwangwu has already emerged as one of the best kickoff returners in the nation. His three 40-yard kickoff returns ranks second nationally and his 27.2 average is the third-best clip this season by a FBS freshman. Arguably the fastest player on the team, Nwangwu is capable of breaking one open at any time.

Iowa State Season Kickoff Return Average Leaders (minimum 10 returns)
1. 32.75, Luther Blue, 1974
2. 27.16, Kene Nwangwu, 2016
3. 26.37, Leonard Johnson, 2008
4. 26.06, Willie Jones, 1972
5. 26.04, Jeff Allen, 1968
6. 25.95, Jarvis West, 2011
7. 25.82, Jeff Allen, 1970
8. 25.75, Tom Busch, 1966
9. 25.72, Aaron Horne, 2011
10. 25.08 Tom Vaughn, 1963

Most 40+ Yard Kickoff Returns In FBS This Season
4- Kylen Towner, Western Kentucky
3- Kene Nwangwu, Iowa State
3- Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh
3- Darius Phillips, Western Michigan
3- Charles Nelson, Oregon
3- Khalfani Muhammad, California


Steve Wirtel- LS, 6-4, 214, Orland Park, Ill.

You are probably unfamiliar with the name Steve Wirtel, but that’s fine. Wirtel is ISU’s long snapper and his anonymity means he’s performed his important task successfully. Wirtel was considered one of the best long snappers in the class of 2016 and his position is in safe hands for the next three seasons.

 

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Checking In With Megan Taylor

Megan Taylor is poised to be inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame tonight. Taylor started every game of her career and finished with school records in field goals made, 3-pointers made and 3-point attempts. She also ranked in the top-10 of 12 of 17 statistical categories. Taylor was a four-time all-conference performer and remains Iowa State’s only Big 12 Freshman of the Year (1998). Taylor closed her career with 1,866 career points and 966 rebounds, while earning All-America recognition from two publications. Taylor is one of four Cyclones to have her jersey retired (2005). We sat down with Taylor to talk about her career with the Cyclones and what it means to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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Q: Why did you make the decision to come to Iowa State?

A: Small town, rural Minnesota, and obviously basketball was my life, but I don’t really think I was ever truly prepared for the recruitment process. I didn’t really have any idea, even though I had older brothers that went through it, I still didn’t have any idea what it was going to be like, and I was overwhelmed with the process really. I chose Iowa State because it just felt right and I’m somebody who goes off of emotions and feelings more than others. I just felt really comfortable with the coaches. I felt really comfortable with the situation, and that’s the biggest reason I went to Iowa State. Also, if you remember, they didn’t have a lot of players back then. I think they had seven people on the team, and they had to recruit walk-ons so that we had enough to practice.  I wanted to play. I didn’t necessarily want to start, but I wanted to play somewhere instead of sitting on the bench. So that was another reason I knew there would be an opportunity for me to come in, potentially, if I performed right from the beginning.

 Q: What does being in the Hall of Fame mean to you?

A: It’s an honor. It’s so incredibly humbling and rewarding. Honestly, I think it’s weird to be honored for something that’s been kind of given to me. I feel like I’ve been given so much just being a part of Iowa State, the community, and to be honored for something is kind of bizarre to me like that, but honestly I’m very honored and looking forward to Friday and the weekend ahead.

Q: You guys won championships. What does it mean to you to be remembered as a champion, to have that as a part of your legacy?

A: That’s a hard question. It’s cool. You always want to be successful at whatever you put a lot of effort into. But I think more importantly it’s the relationships I look back on fondly. I mean, obviously it helps that we won some games, and we won some championships, because those are memories I will take with me and never forget, but really it’s more about the relationships than the wins and losses.

celeb-groupw_trophyQ: What was it like to play for Coach Fennelly?

A: He’s the other reason I really chose Iowa State, I kind of knew right away. I didn’t want to start, but I wanted to play, and I think we had like seven girls on our team, and we had recruit walk-ons, so that was another reason. And it worked because I think me and Stacy had averaged like 38 minutes a game. There just weren’t a lot of people on the team.

He’s awesome, I love him. I loved playing for him. He’s an intense guy, but we have to play with some other teams too, and their coaches seem super intense, so I feel coaches are intense.

Q: What is something you learned from Coach Fennelly that you still take with you?

A: We came in early, we were on time for him, and if we weren’t 10 minutes early, we were late, and I think that’s probably the biggest thing I look back at now. It’s such a disrespectful thing to waste someone else’s time to be late, and he always, always, always made sure that we were on time.

 Q: What was it like playing at Hilton?

A: It was awesome! It was great! It is what it looks like it would be with that many fans who are passionate about women’s basketball, especially my freshman year seeing 5,000 people at the Iowa game and all the way up to 13,000 maybe my senior year. To see that, it gives me goosebumps.

taylor-megan01Q: What was one of your favorite memories about your time at Iowa State Basketball?

A: The biggest thing about Iowa State is the relationships. The relationships I built are No. 1. Coach Fennelly would always say it’s a basketball family, and that’s the truth. I’m still in contact with all the people I played with. There are so many on-court memories, I always thought the Big 12 Tournament was so much fun, and the tournament we won in Kansas City with the men, was so much fun. When we won back-to-back the second year, nobody really expected us to win and that was so much fun. But just the environment and the atmosphere in Kansas City was great.

Q: What are you up to now?

A: So right now I’m living in Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines, and I work for Educational Technology Company. It’s quite new, and I’ve only been doing that for three months. We provide new technology for critical life skills and set them up in classrooms. I work from home, which is pretty cool. I am also married with two kids.

Q: Do you come up for a lot of games still?

A: Not enough. We try to go up when others girls are there like Stacy Frese or Sarah Robson. We try to get together for at least one, and we bring our kids. So I don’t come to enough, which is crazy since I only live like 45 minutes away.

 

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ISU To Honor 1976 Grid Team

1976_IowaState_FBall

Iowa State’s season-opener vs. UNI Sept. 3 will be the inauguration of a “new era” of Cyclone football with the debut of head coach Matt Campbell.

If that wasn’t enough to get you excited for the kickoff of the new season, the Iowa State Athletics Department will also pay tribute to one of the greatest football teams in school history that day.

The 2016 season marks the 40th anniversary of the outstanding 1976 Cyclone squad and a slew of ‘76ers and Earle Bruce era Cyclones will return to Ames to reunite and reminisce about their glory days donning the Cardinal and Gold.

The 1976 team had it all. Littered with future NFL players – Luther Blue, Buddy Hardeman, Al Dixon, Tom Randall and Mike Stensrud – Iowa State was sound on both offense and defense.

Offensively, the Cyclones were a force to be reckoned with. A pounding running attack led by future All-American running back Dexter Green and dual-threat quarterbacks Wayne Stanley and Hardeman paced the Cyclones to a 33.5 point per game average, a school-record which still stands today.

Stanley and Hardeman also had outstanding targets to throw to in the All-American Blue, Dixon and Ray Hardee.

This incredible offensive balance helped the Cyclones rank second nationally in total offense at 439.6, also a school record which has yet to be broken.

Defensively, the Cyclones were just as stout. Six times the Cyclones held their opponents to under 20 points. Behind the play of the Stensrud brothers – Maynard and Mike – Randall, Otis Rodgers, Tony Hawkins and Tom Boskey, the ISU defense definitely held its own.

Heading into the 1976 season, however, there were many skeptics. ISU head coach Earle Bruce was heading into his fourth season after finishing 4-7 in each of his first three seasons at the helm.

The Cyclones also lost their top returning running back in Mike Williams, who suffered a career-ending knee injury in the preseason after rushing for 781 yards in 1975.

Bruce and the Cyclones desperately needed to be a winner in 1976.

Stanley, Wayne001

Wayne Stanley was the co-captain of the 1976 Iowa State football team.

Stanley, a redshirt senior and co-captain of the team, noticed a change in the offseason. It was a step in the right direction.

“I redshirted in 1975 and I got the chance to sit back and observe,” Stanley said. “We had talent and athletes, but what we needed was to be a team. We needed to change our culture. Heading into the 1976 season we worked all summer long. All the guys stayed in town and worked out together. We bonded as a team and as a result we had great success.”

Iowa State roared out of the gates with impressive wins and offensive displays in victories over Drake (58-14), Air Force (41-6) and Kent State (47-7).

Stanley tossed a then school-record four touchdown passes at Air Force.

“All I remember was trying to catch my breath in the high altitude,” laughed Stanley.

A loss to No. 3 Oklahoma was followed up with two more wins, including a 21-17 victory at No. 7 Missouri, one of only two Cyclone victories over a top-10 opponent on the road in school history.

The emergence of Green, a sophomore running back, was key to the Missouri victory and the overall success of the Cyclone offense. Green racked up five 100-yard games that fall, including a career-high 214 yards vs. Missouri, one of only 11 players in school history to rush for over 200 yards in a game.

Green finished the season with 1,074 yards on the ground and garnered immediate respect from the coaching staff.

“He was at his best against the great teams,” Bruce said. “I had many good backs over the years, but not all of them were at their best against the Nebraskas and Oklahomas like Dexter was. He was determined to be a success.”

Sadly, Cyclone Nation lost Green in 2001 when he succumbed to stomach cancer at the age of 46.

The Cyclones continued their resurgence with a win at Kansas on Nov. 6 (31-17) to improve to 7-2. Maynard Stensrud, who was a co-captain along with Stanley, Hawkins and Dave Greenwood, has fond memories of that win. It was a key play by the fabulous brother duo which helped secure the victory.

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1976 Captains

“One of my favorite personal memories was when my brother, Mike, tipped a pass allowing me to get an interception and run it back for a touchdown against the Jayhawks,” Maynard said. “We were just a bunch of great guys who got along and worked hard.”

Iowa State made an appearance in the national rankings with perennial power Nebraska, ranked ninth nationally at the time, coming to Ames on Nov. 13.

The excitement and buzz around Ames for the game was epic.

“The buildup for Nebraska was awesome,” Stanley remembered. “The community and Iowa State did a great job of setting the stage. We were very confident heading into that game. We were clicking on all cylinders.”

If you could categorize a team win, this was it. Offense, defense, special teams, you name it, the Cyclones came to play that day. The end result was a 37-28 victory and another top-10 win on ISU’s resume.

“Our defense and offense were clicking, but also our kicker, Scott Kollman, and our punter, Rick Blabolil, were out this world,” Stanley said. “Nebraska just couldn’t get anything going because we were doing everything right. And then the big run by Luther Blue. Awesome. I mean, I still watch it even now because it was one of the best kick returns I have ever seen.”

Stanley’s recollection of Blue’s electric kickoff return is accurate. Nebraska had just trimmed the Cyclone lead to 10-7 before Blue shifted the momentum back to the Cyclones with his 95-yard return. The Cyclones never trailed the rest of the way.

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Cyclone fans react to Luther Blue’s 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs. Nebraska.

Now 8-2 and ranked 14th nationally, Iowa State had a chance to be co-Big Eight champions and earn a spot in the Orange Bowl with a victory in the season-finale. However, the Cyclones were up against another stellar opponent on the road vs. No. 16 Oklahoma State.

ISU’s Orange Bowl dreams were dashed with a loss to the Cowboys the following week. The loss still disappoints Stanley.

“We needed to win that game, but I couldn’t play because I twisted my knee late in the Nebraska game,” Stanley said. “We had some other guys out, too. I still think we could have won if we had everybody.”

The sting of the OSU loss was only a minor setback compared to what happened next.

Despite an 8-3 record, two wins over top-10 opponents and a top-20 national ranking, the Cyclones were not invited into the postseason. There would be no bowl bid for one of the nation’s best teams.

This snub is hard to imagine in today’s college football world. A record 40 bowls games were played in 2015 with a few teams with losing records invited.

In 1976, the landscape was completely different. Only 12 bowl games were on the schedule and the Cyclones were left out, something Stanley still struggles to come to grips with.

“We knew we were one of the top teams in the nation,” Stanley said. “We regret we didn’t get the opportunity. Now as I look back, I can kind of understand it. Iowa State didn’t have the tradition of winning and the bowls depended on people filling the stands.”

It won’t be a sad reunion for the 1976 team next weekend. There are too many highlights to look back on.

Many of the memories will involve Bruce, a tough, hard-nosed coach who demanded perfection at all times. But beneath the gruff exterior was a coach who deeply cared about his players.

Memories of Bruce’s famous quotes will definitely be recited with a pleasant smile. Sayings like, “nothing is ever as good as it seems, or bad as it seems” or “you can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses.”

Stanley will be there, along with many others. He cherishes the time he spent with his teammates.

“I am battling cancer and once your life is threatened, you get a little sentimental,” said Stanley. “I started thinking about my teammates, my family that I hadn’t seen in a long time. And then Dexter Green died and Tony Hawkins, one of our captains, he died. I miss those guys. But coming back to Ames, I’m just excited to see my family again.”

The leader of that family will also be there in Bruce.

According to Stanley, he wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“When I mentioned the reunion to coach, he was so excited,” Stanley said. “I asked him if he was sure he was going to make it. He told me, ‘Wayne, you tell them I will be there even if I have to walk.’”

The following Cyclones have already registered to attend the Earle Bruce Era Reunion, Sept. 2-3: Tom Backhus, Sy Bassett, Mark Benda, Rick Blabolil, Don Blake, Luther Blue, Robert Bos, Tom Boskey, Scott Bradley, Earle Bruce, Pete Carlon, Arlen Ciechanowski, Frank Cooper, Cal Cummins, Kevin Cunningham, Mike Gannon, Rocky Gillis, Greg Grove, Buddy Hardeman, Randy Hart, Pat Henricksen, Stan Hixon, Jack Kennison, Ray King, Greg Lempke, Les Leonard, John Less, Charlie Lyle, Richard Mark, Kurt McCaulley, Larry McCaulley, Ron McFarland, Steve Meinen, Steve Meis, Tom Miller, Rich Miller, Jim Nissen, Jerry Petsch, Frank Randall, Glover Rogers, Karl Schueneman, Jack Seabrooke, Mark Settle, Forry Smith, James Solus, Wayne Stanley, Lloyd Studniarz, Steve Szabo, Mike Tryon, Bob Tucker, Rick White, Mike Williams
 

 

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Checking in with Hallie Christofferson

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Former Cyclone forward Hallie Christofferson just wrapped up her professional basketball career after two seasons of overseas competition. Christofferson spent her first season in Austria with the Flying Foxes SVS Post in Vienna, Austria where she won the Austrian Cup and Austrian League Championship while being named league MVP. She followed her successful stint in Austria with an undefeated season in Athens, Greece with Olympiacos. She was named to the All-Greek First-Team and named Forward of the Year, Co-Newcomer of the Year and to the All-Defensive Team.

 Now that you just finished two seasons of professional basketball overseas. What did you take away from both of those experiences?

I went overseas really without knowing what to expect, so everything I did over there was something new to me. I grew as a player, but more importantly I grew as a person. I had never lived by myself prior to last year, so just doing things alone was new to me as well. It forced me to be even more independent, but I still knew that family and friends were just a FaceTime call away in case I felt homesick.

How did playing for Iowa State prepare you for overseas basketball?

Playing at ISU gave me the basketball knowledge to continue at the next level and both the mental and physical strength necessary to compete with the best athletes overseas. During summers prior to going overseas, I would continue to do workout programs that I did in college in order to prepare for the next season. I knew that if I ever needed something, the coaches were more than willing to help me out as best they could.

How long are your seasons overseas? Is it much different than college basketball?

For Austria, I left the States mid-September and returned back home the last week of April. We also got close to 10 days off to fly home for Christmas. For Greece, I left September 1st and returned home in mid-May, and we got about five days at home for Christmas. The seasons are much longer than college basketball, but not necessarily the amount of games we played. In Greece we only played one game a week, so there was a lot more practice than in college.

What are some differences on the court from basketball in Europe to NCAA women’s basketball? Was it difficult adjusting?

The biggest difference was playing four quarters instead of two halves, like I did in college. And the fact that there’s only two refs instead of three per game. Which factored into the more physical game play. Other than that, it’s the same game, so no, I can’t say that it was too difficult adjusting.

Both of your teams you played on seemed to have quite a bit of success. Can you talk a little about that?

Yes, we were very successful as a team both of my years. Flying Foxes had won the league for the last eight years, so when I was there, we made it nine. Olympiacos is one of the oldest clubs in Greece, but this was the first year they had a women’s basketball team. Therefore, everything we did was historic. Not only did we go undefeated, but winning two championships our first year as a club set the foundation for the years to come. It’s also pretty neat that I get to say I helped start that.

Talk about a typical day for you playing overseas. How often do you practice and what are practices and preparation like compared to ISU?

In Austria, we would practice once a day, and if we didn’t play on the weekends, we would have those days off. We then typically had the day after a game off as well. Practices were pretty laid back, for a couple hours. They included a lot of shooting and up and down drills. We didn’t do any form of scouting for games, but after playing each team the first round, we knew what to expect for the rest of the season. In Greece, the league was more competitive than Austria. We had two-a-days in the mornings for two days a week and practiced in the afternoons daily. We had the day after a game off. Team lifting/shooting would be done in morning practices or sometimes after practice in the afternoon. We watched video and went over scouting reports for the opposing team a couple days prior to the game. This system was more similar to ISU than Austria was, but still very different from college ball.

How were your teammates? Were there a lot of locals on the team that could show you around or were you off on your own a lot? Do you still keep in touch with the girls on your teams?

On both teams, there were two Americans. Everyone else was from the country or neighboring countries. All the girls knew the area and were able to show us around if we wanted. I did a lot of exploring on my own or when family and friends came to visit me. There are some I still keep in contact with. Social media helps bridge the gap between time zones and makes you feel like you’re still close, even though geographically, you’re not close at all.

Were there any striking cultural differences in Greece and Austria, or did you not have much trouble assimilating?

Europe in general is very different than the States. Right away when I landed in the airport, I could see noticeable differences (and hear noticeable differences, i.e. language). I was pretty open minded going into the experience, and I’m pretty “go with the flow” attitude, so I just went with it from landing until the end of the season.

While you were in Europe, did you get the opportunity to travel much? Maybe to interesting historical places, different countries?

In Austria we played in the CEWL, which led us to travel outside of Austria. Throughout the season I got to travel to Prague, Czech Republic; Slovakia, Bratislava; Budapest, Hungary; Salzburg, Graz, Austria. With the Olympiacos, we did a preseason tournament in Istanbul, Turkey. The rest of the season was just played in Greece, but I got to travel to Thessaloniki, the island of Kos, and the island of Lefkada. Not to mentione sightseeing many things in Athens: Acropolis (Parthenon), Panathenaic Stadium (first Olympics were held), visiting Syntagma Square, Plaka, and Monastiraki. After the season was over and I was waiting for my plane ticket home, I would walk or take the tram about ten minutes to the Mediterranean Sea and hang out on the beach.

I’ve heard when a lot of basketball players go overseas, they have trouble adjusting to the cuisine and live mostly off care packages from the U.S. Did you have any trouble with food? If not, what were some of your favorite dishes and did you ever encounter a food or dish that was too much for you?

In both countries I never had any problem with the food. I was open to try new things and usually made meals with ingredients from the grocery store or market. In Austria, putting corn on pizza was something I’d never done before, and I’m still surprised we don’t do that here in Iowa. I also loved the spätzle. It’s basically their version of mac and cheese. Cafes were all over the place, and you drank your coffee (hot chocolate for me) and ate it with some kind of dessert. Whenever friends or family visited me, we had dessert at least once a day for about a week straight. In Greece, I had a lot of souvlaki (meat on a stick, kabob) and gyros. I also came to love Greek salad, with tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese in an oil dressing. There was never something I really didn’t like, besides olives, and I knew that before I went to Greece. Overseas, I did miss my favorite candy, Twizzlers, and requested them every time my mom mentioned sending me a care package.
What was the best part about playing overseas and the most difficult part?

The best part was being able to continue to play basketball. I wasn’t quite ready to hang up my shoes after playing at ISU, and getting those two opportunities really put the finishing touches on my career. The most difficult part was being away from my family and friends for such a long time. Missing holidays, birthdays, any other time I just wanted to go visit someone, I couldn’t. It made me realize and appreciate them more once I came back to the States.
What’s next for you now that you’ve wrapped up your pro career?

The plan is to head down to New Orleans to pursue my career in graphic design. I’m ready to open a new chapter, in new surroundings. However, it’s safe to say that the state of Iowa and Cyclone Nation will always hold a special place in my heart, bleeding Cardinal and Gold for life.

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ISU Has Rich Olympic Tradition

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The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will begin August 5 and three former Cyclone athletes have solidified a chance to compete for medals on the world’s stage.

Hilary Bor (United States, steeplechase), Betsy Saina (Kenya, 10,000 meters) and Mohamed Hrezi (Libya, marathon) will represent Iowa State at the XXXI Olympiad. Current ISU women’s hoops star Bridget Carleton is also still fighting for a spot on the Canadian Olympic women’s basketball roster.

Iowa State has a rich history of success in the Olympic Games, accumulating a total of 13 medals in Olympic history. At least one Cyclone has competed at the Olympic Games since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

There are plenty of stories of Cyclone Olympic success and listed below are some highlights of Iowa Staters making their mark with the world’s elite.

Jon Brown: The Marathon Man
Jon Brown never earned a medal in the Olympics, but the former Cyclone national champion could be considered the “seasoned veteran” of Cyclone Olympians by appearing in three different Olympiads (1996 in Atlanta; 2000 in Sydney; 2004 in Athens).

Brown, along with Sunday Uti (track & field) and Curt Bader (kayaking), are the only three Cyclones to compete in three different Olympics. Representing Great Britain, Brown competed in the 10,000-meter in 1996 and ran the marathon in 2000 and 2004.

Brown earned the distinction as one of Iowa State’s top distance runners in school history while competing for the Cyclones from 1989-92. In his final season as a Cyclone, Brown posted one of the greatest seasons in ISU’s storied track & field program. He recorded five Big Eight titles, one NCAA crown (5,000-meter Indoor) and finished second at the Big Eight Cross Country Championship.

Brown experienced incredible success in the marathon on the international level, twice narrowly missing out on a medal by placing fourth at the 2000 Olympics (Sydney) and the 2004 Olympics (Athens).

1984
Without a doubt, the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was a shining moment for the Iowa State track & field programs. Eight members of the Cyclone men’s and women’s track teams competed in L.A., three earning medals.

Nawal El-Moutawakel, who was the national champion in the 400-meter hurdles that same year, won the Gold Medal and set an Olympic record in the 400-meter hurdles. A native of Morocco, El-Moutawakel became the first Cyclone track & field athlete, first African woman and the first Arabic woman to capture an Olympic Gold medal. El-Moutawakel is currently one of the highest-ranking officials on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is the Coordination Commission chair for the Rio Olympics.

On the men’s side, the Cyclones received outstanding efforts from Danny Harris and Sunday Uti. Harris was coming into his own as an elite 400-meter hurdler. He only lost twice in 1984, both times to the legendary Edwin Moses. He collected the Silver Medal in 1984 and eventually ended Moses’ 122-race winning streak in 1987.

Uti joined Harris on the medal stand by earning a Bronze Medal in the 4X400-meter relay as a member of the Nigerian team. It was the second of three-straight Olympic appearances (1980-Moscow; 1988-Seoul) for the eight-time All-American.

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Sunday Uti (left) and Danny Harris pose with their Olympic medals in 1984.

 

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Nawal El-Moutawakel receives her Gold Medal in 1984.

Wrestling Glory
The Iowa State wrestling program was at its peak in 1972 and its all-star lineup was on display at the Munich Olympics that summer. The Cyclones were fresh off their third NCAA title in four seasons and four Cyclones were competing in Germany in Dan Gable, Ben Peterson, Chris Taylor and Bob Buzzard.

Gable firmly cemented his legacy by capturing the Gold Medal as a lightweight. He did it in dominating fashion by not surrendering a point the entire tournament.

Peterson also earned Gold, winning as a light heavyweight. It was the first of two medals for the Cyclone national champion, as Peterson claimed a Silver Medal four years later at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Peterson also qualified for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, but didn’t get a chance to wrestle because of the United States boycott.

Taylor earned a Bronze Medal at super heavyweight, but not without controversy. Taylor lost to two-time Olympic champion Alex Medved when a Turkish referee deducted a point against Taylor for passivity, allowing Medved to come away with the victory.

Despite Taylor’s loss, the Cyclone wrestling program made Iowa State proud by bringing home three medals.

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Ben Peterson is one of ISU’s most decorated Olympic wrestlers.

 

Basketball Elite

Earning a spot on the United States Men’s Basketball Olympic team is considered one of the top achievements in hoops. Iowa State All-American Jeff Grayer proved his worth by making the U.S. Olympic hoops team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, becoming the first and only Cyclone to make the U.S. Olympic basketball team.

Grayer was on the last Olympic team which solely used college players. Four years later the world would be introduced to the Dream Team in Barcelona.

The Big Eight for years had fought the stereotype of just being a football conference, but the 1988 Olympic team proved that myth was false with three players from the league making the team in Grayer, Danny Manning (Kansas) and Mitch Richmond (Kansas State).

Grayer helped the U.S. team win its first six games before suffering a semifinals loss to the Soviet Union, 82-76, the U.S. team’s only second loss in Olympic competition. The squad defeated Australia, 78-49 to win the Bronze Medal the following day.

Grayer played in all eight games at the 1988 Olympics, averaging 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds.

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ISU All-American and former NBA star Jeff Grayer in action at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

 

Glen Brand: ISU’s First Olympic Gold Medalist

The person who holds the distinction as the first Cyclone to medal in the Olympics is Glen Brand, who was a national champion wrestler in 1948.

A native of Clarion, Iowa, Brand began his Iowa State career when he was 22 years old after serving in the Pacific Theater (Guam) in World War II as a Marine. He enrolled at Iowa State in 1945 and quickly became one of the best wrestlers in school history.

Brand was the runner-up national champion in 1947 and won the national title at 174 pounds in 1948, capping off his Cyclone career with a 54-3 mark.

Brand immediately set his sights on Gold, making the Olympic team in London in 1948. He accomplished his goal by winning the Gold Medal as a middleweight, becoming the first Iowan to graduate from a high school in the state to win a Gold Medal.

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ISU wrestling legend Glen Brand was the first Cyclone to earn a medal in the Olympics, claiming a Gold Medal in 1948.

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