Tuesday night Iowa State opened up their season, the first of the T.J. Otzelberger era, against the Kennesaw State Owls. After going 2-22 (0-18 in Big 12 play) a year ago the Cyclones opened up their season with a 84-73 win. Leading scorer for the Cyclones last night was senior shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur. The Edina, MN native had 19 points on 5/11 shooting. On top of that Kalscheur had 1 assist and 2 steals on the other end of the floor. So what else happened in last nights’ contest? Well here are six thoughts on the Cyclone season opener.
- First things first: Izaiah Brockington and Gabe Kalscheur *appear* to be as good as advertised. We already went through Kalscheur’s stat line, but Brockington had himself a good night too. Brockington definitely had the more efficient night. He went 6-10 shooting for 18 points. He added 6 boards, 2 assists, and 2 steals to it.
- Star freshman point guard, Tyrese Hunter, seems to be very very good. Hunter only played 20 minutes due to foul trouble. Hunter had to sit a lot of the 2nd half on the bench because he received his 4th foul with 18 minutes to go in the game. In the time he was on the floor he racked up 11 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. A very impressive stat line.
- I was a little surprised to see that Robert Jones started over senior center George Conditt. Any Cyclone fan knows that Conditt struggled mightily last season. With that said Jones transferred from Denver and I don’t think many people expected him to be ready yet. To Jones credit, according to reports coming out of Ames, he has taken over the role of “the enforcer”. Now looking at his stat line last night you might not guess it. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that last night was only night one.
- I just hinted at it, but George Conditt looked like he could be back to his old self. The senior went 4-4 from the field for 9 points and two thunderous dunks. Still only had 4 rebounds, which is why I feel like Jones got the start over him, nonetheless was certainly a spark offensively off the bench.
- As a team both offensively and defensively, Iowa State was doing things that it felt like they weren’t doing at all last year. Saw a lot of ball movement, they swung it around the perimeter constantly looking for ways to either get it in the post or find an open 3 year. In 20-21, it felt like a lot of one pass and shoot possessions. Defensively they were very aggressive and were pressuring the heck out of the ball, forcing 24 Kennesaw turnovers. The Owls also only shot 43% from the field. Fans will tell you it’s because they played Kennesaw State. True basketball fans and coaches will tell you it doesn’t matter who you’re playing. If you can produce like that defensively you are going to give yourself a chance every single night.
- Iowa State plays their 2nd game of the year in Ames against Oregon State, who is coming off that run to the Elite 8 last season. It will be fun to see Hunter on the floor for hopefully more than 20 minutes and to see if they can continue doing what they did defensively.