In terms of the calendar year, Iowa State started off 2021 0-18 and fired their Head Coach Steve Prohm after 6 years of service in Ames. That’s a long stretch of basketball that no one enjoyed.
Things did get better though for the Cyclones as 2021 went on. After the release of Prohm, they hired long-time ISU assistant coach, T.J. Otzelberger away from UNLV. Since the Otzelberger hiring, ISU has seen a great deal of roster turnover. Of the 10 scholarship guys on the Cyclones roster, 7 of them didn’t play for Iowa State last year. 6 of those 7 guys are completely new to the program with the return of Caleb Grill to Ames after spending one year in Vegas with Coach Otzelberger.
Between the guys who left the program, most notably former four-star center Xavier Foster, and the guys who were currently on the roster, there wasn’t a lot of hope that 2021 would end better than it began. However, just the opposite happened. Through the excellent play of Senior guard Izaiah Brockington, and the leadership of both him and Senior guard Gabe Kalscheur, Iowa State is off to a 12-0 start and ranked 8th in the country. So what is going to give Iowa State a happy start to the new year? Reclaiming an ownership stake in the Big 12 Conference.
While the Cyclones have never won a national championship in men’s basketball and have only been to one Final Four (1944), if you ask the Cyclone faithful, they are a very proud fanbase and a program with quite a bit of history. Most of that tradition has come from success in the Big 12 Conference, and the Big 8 as it’s formerly known. The Cyclones have won 6 regular-season conference championships and 6 conference tournament championships throughout its history. With 4 of those 6 conference tournament championships coming since 2014. They also boast one of the best home-court advantages in all of college basketball let alone the Big 12.
Guys like Brent Musburger, Dick Vitale, and Fran Fraschilla have all sung the praises of Hilton Coliseum. Amongst many other coaches and broadcasters. With all that said, as you can imagine, watching Iowa State win 2 games and go winless in conference play last year has been very taxing for the ISU fans.
While ending 2021 winning the Preseason NIT Tournament, beating the rival Hawkeyes by 20 in Hilton, and exiting 2021 as the 8th best team in the nation is great. What’s really going to give Iowa State a happy start to the new year? Beating the defending national champions and currently, the #1 team in America, the Baylor Bears, would have been a good start. Unfortunately, the Cyclones were unable to pull off the upset, losing 77-72, but not everything is bad. After going toe-to-toe with the top team in the country, Iowa State has officially renamed itself as one of the contenders in the nation’s toughest conference. It doesn’t get easier from here as currently there are 5 Big 12 teams in the AP Top 25, and 3 in the top 10. That’s half of the conference ranked in the AP Poll! However, if ISU can get their mojo back after a tough loss to Baylor, it will certainly propel them to a great start to 2022.