McDermott’s Cyclone teams have consistently ranked in the upper half of the Big 12 in scoring defense and in three-point shoting. In four seasons, McDermott has coached five players who have earned all-conference recognition, including Craig Brackins, who was the first Cyclone since 2001 to earn All-Big 12 First-Team honors in 2009. Brackins was a second-team selection in 2010.
Mike Taylor, who spent the 2008-09 season on the Los Angeles Clippers roster, is the first player under McDermott’s watch to play in the NBA. He was a second round pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
ISU fans caught a glimpse of the future of Cyclone basketball with McDermott patrolling the sidelines in his first season (2006-07). The Cyclones displayed toughness on the defensive end and a disciplined offense which provided ISU a chance for victory every game. The Cyclones ranked in the top-100 nationally in scoring defense (65.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (42.2 percent). On offense, the Cyclones broke a then-school record for 3-pointers made in a season with 203.
Taylor and Wesley Johnson were two of McDermott’s top players in his first season. Taylor made 77 treys, the sixth-best total in school history, en route to honorable mention all-Big 12 honors. Johnson recorded one of the best rookie seasons in school history, ranking fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding (7.9 rpg). Johnson averaged 12.3 ppg and earned Big 12 all-Rookie honors in 2007.
The Cyclones continued to improve in his second season. ISU ranked in the top-100 nationally in scoring defense (65.6) and field-goal percentage defense (41.6 percent). ISU’s opponent field-goal percentage total was the fifth-lowest clip since 1967. Johnson and Jiri Hubalek both earned all-Big 12 recognition, as Hubalek was named to the third-team after ranking sixth in the Big 12 in rebounding (7.3 rpg).
Led by honorable mention All-American Brackins, the Cyclones ranked fourth in the Big 12 in scoring defense in McDermott’s third season. Brackins produced one of the best seasons in ISU history, ranking second in the Big 12 in scoring (20.2 ppg) and third in the league in rebounding (9.5 rpg). Brackins, who was a first-team all-District selection by the NABC and USBWA, became just the third Cyclone in school history to record over 600 points (645) and 300 rebounds (303) in a season.
McDermott’s 2008-09 squad broke school records in 3-pointers made (236) and fewest turnover average (12.1 tpg) in a season. Four of the top-five single-game 3-point shooting marks have occurred under the McDermott regime.
McDermott tutored two players to all-Big 12 recognition in his fourth season (2009-10) in Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap. Brackins, who was preseason Wooden Award nominee and a Big 12 Second-Team pick at season’s end, was the only player in the league to rank in the top-10 in the conference in scoring, rebounding and blocks. Gilstrap, an honorable mention all-conference pick, had a Big 12-high 10.3 rebounding average in league games and was the only player in the conference to average a double-double in conference play (15.3 pts./10.3 reb.).
McDermott registered his signature victory as the Cyclone coach in his fourth season with an 85-82 win at No. 5 Kansas State, a team which eventually advanced to the Elite Eight. It was just the eighth time in ISU history where the Cyclones defeated a top-25 team on the road. The Cyclones also continued their prolific long-range shooting in McDermott’s fourth campaign, drilling 209 treys, the second-highest 3-point total in school history.
McDermott’s meteoric rise in the head coaching ranks occurred in his five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater (2002-06). After taking over a program that had not posted a winning season since 1997, McDermott’s recipe for success launched the UNI program into the national spotlight. In his third season with the Panthers, McDermott led UNI to the 2004 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title and its second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history while recording a 21-10 mark.
He backed up UNI’s 2004 season with yet another NCAA Tournament bid in 2005, this time earning the Panthers’ first ever at-large berth with a No. 11 seed. The Panthers tallied a 21-11 record and took No. 6 seed Wisconsin to the wire, falling 57-52. The 2006 UNI season was just as successful, as McDermott led the Panthers to their first-ever Associated Press top 25 ranking while tying a school record with 23 wins. UNI defeated five NCAA Tournament teams (Iowa, LSU, Wichita State, Southern Illinois and Bucknell) en route to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance with a No. 10 seed, the highest seed in school history. One of his star players was Ben Jacobson, who was McDermott’s first recruiting prize when he took over head coaching duties. Jacobson, who finished his career as the third-leading scorer in school history, was UNI’s first preseason Wooden Award nominee and an NABC all-district pick. Jacobson and Grant Stout were both named first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference in 2006.
The 45-year-old McDermott compiled a 90-63 record at UNI and has a 265-178 career mark. McDermott has proven to be a top-notch recruiter and a sound tactician. He has coached 22 players who have earned some sort of conference award in his nine years as a Division I coach, including three players who earned first-team all-MVC honors four times (David Gruber, Ben Jacobson, Grant Stout) and one first-team all-Big 12 pick (Brackins).
As a recruiter, McDermott is one of the best in the business in evaluating talent. In his first month with the Cyclones, McDermott added Taylor and Johnson in the late signing period and molded them into all-conference performers. He has signed four players in their respective high school classes who were ranked in the top-100 nationally in his tenure at ISU.
McDermott received his first head coaching job at Wayne State (Neb.) from 1995-2000. He led the Wildcats to four-straight 20-win seasons, one Northern Sun Conference title and a pair of NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, including a Sweet Sixteen berth in 2000. He won 116 games in his six years with the Wildcats while earning conference coach of the year honors in 2000.
He left Wayne State to take over the coaching duties at Division II North Dakota State for one season (2000-01) before heading to Cedar Falls. The Bison finished 15-11 overall and defeated three top 25 opponents on the road in 2001.
McDermott began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of North Dakota from 1989-94. During his tenure, the Fighting Sioux made five consecutive NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, were ranked No. 1 in the final 1991 NCAA poll and won two North Central Conference crowns. He was also a part of two North Central Region Championships and compiled a 126-37 record in his six seasons.
A fourth-team all-state center for Cascade High School in 1983, McDermott accepted UNI head coach Jim Berry’s scholarship offer to play for the Panthers. He played three seasons for Berry and two years for Eldon Miller at UNI, recording 1,033 career points to rank on UNI’s top 25 scoring chart. As a junior, he ranked 16th nationally in field-goal percentage (58.7 percent) and shot 60.3 percent from the field as a senior. The 6-8, center was named second-team all-conference as a junior and was a team co-captain as a senior. He received his B.A. degree from Northern Iowa in 1988. He played one season professionally in Switzerland after graduation before beginning his coaching career.
McDermott was born Nov. 25, 1964. He and his wife, Theresa, have three children: Nick (20), Doug (18) and Sydney (9).