Three Big Takeaways: What we learned from the Cyclones’ season-opener

Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger calls out directions to the Cyclones in their 84-73 win over Kennesaw State on Nov. 9. Otzelberger picked up his first career win as head coach of Iowa State.

James Powell

AMES- A win is a win, but T.J. Otzelberger hopes none of his future victories will look like his first.

“Hopefully we didn’t set basketball back too far,” Otzelberger said after the win.

This was in reference to the game that featured a combined 57 fouls and 46 turnovers, which resulted in a stop-and-start game from the jump.

Nonetheless, Iowa State men’s basketball was able to pick up an 84-73 win to start the young season 1-0.

The game was led in scoring by Izaiah Brockington and Gabe Kalscheur, saw promising signs for freshman Tyrese Hunter and featured what their head coach called a “two-headed monster” at the center position.

Brockington and Kalscheur lead the way

Coming from Penn State and Minnesota respectively, the Cyclones’ two marquee transfers had a lot of experience under their belt.

That certainly showed from the very beginning as Brockington and Kalscheur were able to find their shot early and often.

For Brockington, he played almost the entire first half and contributed 10 points. He was being aggressive and driving to the basket to try and finish. His coach knows what a player like that can bring, and likes what he saw from his transfer.

“Izaiah’s a gifted player,” Otzelberger said. “As you saw at times he can be electric getting downhill, and attacking, he’s got a very unique mid-range.”

As for Kalscheur, he poured in 12 points as a starter, but the story for him was getting to the free-throw line seven times in the first 20 minutes. Part of that was a product of the amount of fouls, but he could also be seen driving to the paint on a consistent basis.

Brockington finished with 18 points before fouling out with about five minutes to play, and Kalscheur ended the night with 19. Despite a one for six showing from Kalscheur from deep, he was able to get to the free throw line a lot (13 times in his 32 minutes played).

These two Power-5 transfers were expected to contribute significant minutes for a transfer-heavy Cyclone team, and they certainly did that in the season opener.

Freshman Hunter shows promise

While it wasn’t a picture-perfect night for the Racine, Wis., native, Tyrese Hunter certainly showed signs of hope in the somewhat limited action he saw. 

His first opportunity to shine was one he made count, as he scored on a three-point basket to open the season scoring for his team. From there, however, Hunter got into foul trouble and had to sit.

He picked up three fouls in the first half, and a fourth one early in the second half. When he was in the game, however, he certainly made his mark.

“I think he had a lot of poise,” Kalscheur said about his starting point guard, Hunter. “He kept us under control in that second half and did a great job of being a floor general.”

A floor general is something that Otzelberger is hoping he can count on Hunter to become.

As for what Hunter thought of his performance, he knows there were some things to work on, including the foul trouble.

“Just not sticking to our principles,” Hunter said of the early foul issues. “You know, just showing my hands, sliding, just little petty stuff that I can clean up. You know, you learn from stuff, it’s the first game so get back in the gym tomorrow and clean it up.”

Hunter finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists in just under 20 minutes of playing time.

Competition at the center position

The only two players that one could argue even qualify to be centers are George Conditt, a senior who’s been in the program all four years and Robert Jones, a transfer from Denver.

It was Jones who got the start over Conditt, but it was Conditt who played more minutes overall (24 as compared to Robert Jones’ 11). 

Jones put in a few starters’ minutes before picking up two quick fouls, paving the way for Conditt to come in and contribute four points and a rebound before picking up two fouls of his own.

For Otzelberger, he thinks it’s important to have his two centers contributing, and thinks they each bring something different to the court.

“Those guys have been like a two-headed monster for us,” Otzelberger said about his big men in the middle. “Their games are different, what we ask them to do is a little bit different. Tonight, George [Conditt] was a little bit more effective.”

The statistics back up what their head coach is saying, as not only did Conditt put in more minutes, he finished with nine points on 4-4 shooting compared to just two points from Robert Jones.

Having a foundation set in the post can help out an entire team, and it sounds like that foundation will be two players deep, at least for a while.