The Iowa State Cyclones are preparing to open the 2021-22 men’s basketball season against Kennesaw State on Nov. 9. Here are some key points to consider as the season begins.
Hunter is a Listener
The first job for T.J. Otzelberger when he took over as head coach at Iowa State was to protect the only member of Steve Prohm’s recruiting class — guard Tyrese Hunter. It took some Zoom calls, but Otz pulled it off. Now that he’s in Ames, his new teammates are getting an education in just how much the freshman wants to soak everything up.
“He’s a great listener,” Cyclones forward George Conditt IV said. “He wants to learn a lot, and he knows what he’s capable of doing. So, whenever I come over to him and try to let him know, ‘Hey this is what happens when this happens,’ or ‘This is what happened when this happens,’ you know, he takes it in in the very next play. It’s, ‘I got it.’ So he’s a really good player, a really good listener.”
Hunter is a potential starter on opening night. If he doesn’t start on opening night, it won’t take him long to get there.
Restoring the Pride
Otzelberger served under three head coaches at Iowa State — Greg McDermott, Fred Hoiberg and Steve Prohm. He saw the bad, and the good and the great. Right now, the Cyclones are as bad as they’ve been.
Yes, the Cyclones have to get better on the floor. But, when you’re rebuilding a program, attitude matters as much as actions.
“Iowa State is a place that I have a tremendous sense of pride, and success for the program matters a lot to me,” Otzelberger said. “So everything that we do, we’re going to continue to embrace winning. We’ve been really fortunate to have a group of guys who understand how important all those other actions are each day to lead into winning.”
The Cyclones are short-handed. They have just 11 players on the roster. There were two late departures. Forward Xavier Foster was dismissed from the program, guard Javan Johnson hit the transfer portal and Blake Hinson left the program.
That time T.J. recruited George
How long has George Conditt IV been a Cyclone? Long enough for Otzelberger to have recruited him a little bit.
“So, he was under Fred (Hoiberg) and (Steve) Prohm, and I want to say he was under Pro (Prohm) for one year,” Conditt said at Big 12 Media Day. “And that’s when I first got into contact with Iowa State. I didn’t know too much about TJ, but I did follow kind of his career.”
Conditt is going to be one of the leaders of this team. He’s entering his fourth year in the program. While he averaged just 2.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last year, there is plenty of opportunity for him to do more. Otzelberger was encouraged by Conditt’s play with the Puerto Rican national team in Olympic qualifying, where he 14.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in two games.
The Cyclones had their worst season in generations last season. It cost Steve Prohm his job. The It cost the Cyclones a lot of talent, too. Much of it went to the transfer portal. The Cyclones will run into one of those players when they face Kansas — guard Jalen Coleman-Lands.
Conditt says the Cyclones have to put it in the rear-view mirror now.
“You can’t run from it you can’t hide from it,” Conditt said. “You know, a lot of people ask me about last year and I acknowledge it, you know it happened. But I look forward to what is what is going to transpire this year. You know last year was a learning lesson. That’s all. You’ve got to take it as a learning lesson.”
The Penn State connection
A couple of years ago the Cyclones took in a quality Penn State transfer in Rasir Bolton (who is now at Gonzaga). This year it’s guard Izaiah Brockington, who is coming off his best season of college ball. He averaged 12.6 points per game last year and entering the season he is the odds-on favorite to be the team’s leading scorer. He’s also trying to get NBA teams interested. He is a consistent player that shoots well from the floor and is not a player you want to send to the free-throw line. At 84.1 percent last season, he’s darned near automatic there.
Heartland College Sports Big 12 Basketball Preview
Top 25 Returning Players: No. 25 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua| No. 24 Christian Braun | No. 23 Rondel Walker | No. 22 Umoja Gibson | No. 21 Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe | No. 20 Nijel Pack | No. 19: Marcus Santos-Silva | No. 18 Mike McGuirl| No. 17 Jalen Bridges | No. 16 Kalib Boone | No. 15 Kevin McCullar | No. 14 Isaac Likekele | No. 13 Adam Flagler | No. 12 Jalen Coleman-Lands | No. 11 Sean McNeil | No. 10 Taz Sherman | No. 9 Matthew Mayer | No. 8 Jalen Wilson | No. 7 Courtney Ramey | No. 6 Mike Miles | No. 5 Avery Anderson III | No. 4 David McCormack | No. 3 Terrence Shannon Jr.
Challenge Series: Big 12-Big East Battle
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2021-22 Iowa State Schedule
(all times central)
Nov. 9 Kennesaw State, 7 p.m.
Nov. 12 Oregon State, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 Alabama State, 7 p.m.
Nov. 21 Grambling State, 5 p.m.
Nov. 24 vs. Xavier, 6 [email protected]
Nov. 26 vs. Memphis or Virginia Tech, [email protected]
Dec. 1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 7 p.m.
Dec. 4 at Creighton, 8 p.m.-#
Dec. 9 Iowa, 8 p.m.
Dec. 12 Jackson State, noon
Dec. 19 Southeastern Louisiana, noon
Dec. 21 Chicago State, 6 p.m.
Jan. 1 Baylor*, 1 p.m.
Jan. 5 Texas Tech*, 8 p.m.
Jan. 8 at Oklahoma*, 5 p.m.
Jan. 11 at Kansas*, 7 p.m.
Jan. 15 Texas* 1 p.m.
Jan. 18 at Texas Tech*, 8 p.m.
Jan. 22 TCU*, 3 p.m.
Jan. 26 at Oklahoma State*, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29 Missouri, 1 p.m.#
Feb. 1 Kansas*, 6 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Texas*, 1 p.m.
Feb. 8 at West Virginia*, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12 Kansas State*, TBA
Feb. 15 at TCU*, 8 p.m.
Feb. 19 Oklahoma*, 1 p.m.
Feb. 23 West Virginia*, 6 p.m.
Feb. 26 at Kansas State*, 1 p.m.
March 2 Oklahoma State*, 6 p.m.
March 5 at Baylor*, 5 p.m.
March 9-12 Big 12 Tournament, Kansas City, Missouri
@-NIT Season Tip-off, Brooklyn, New York; #-Big East/Big 12 Battle; #-Big 12/SEC Challenge