Connectivity to bring Cyclone success


Jacob Rice

Freshman Tamin Lipsey rebounds the ball against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 13

Basketball season is officially in full swing. The Cyclones are 2-0 on the season and hoping to grab their third win against Milwaukee Sunday afternoon.

The Iowa State defense has looked strong so far this season, with the team putting up double-digit rebounds and forcing various turnovers.

“Every day we work on defense…we all are defensive-minded people,” freshman Demarion Watson said.

Head coach T.J. Otzelberger said he feels the team is very connected defensively and that they are continuing to work on the offense aspect as well.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into it [offense],” Otzelberger said. “Ball movement, player movement, sharing the ball, playing for one other.”

Robert Jones agreed with Otzelberger, saying he feels the offense has a variety of ways to score points.

“The biggest thing for us now is continuing to play together offensively,” Jones said.

Watson said the work off the court has also been a major contribution to the team’s success and has helped the team become more connected.

“We feed off of each other’s energy,” Watson said.

Watson said he feels that he helps bring energy to the court by always playing as hard as he can and making sure every minute he has is an “impactful minute.”

“You look at our bench if you watch during the games and you see guys celebrating each other…that’s connected,” Otzelberger said.

Additionally, Otzelberger and Jones praised Watson by stating how much he listens and then takes what he hears and brings it to the court.

“There’s no separation from what he’s told in practice and timeouts to what he brings to the court every day,” Jones said.

Iowa State has had about a week off between games, giving them more time to practice and be prepared for the next team.

“It’s unreal,” Jones said about how hard the team works in practice. “We bring all we can every time we step on the court. That’s kind of like our mentality…you practice as you play.”

Even with only four veterans returning, Jones said there are obviously some things the new players need to learn, but at the end of the day, it is still basketball.

“If you come in and you listen, and you do the little things every day, you’ll eventually catch up to the people who were here,” Jones said.

Both Watson and Jones also discussed how connected this year’s team is. Because of that, Jones feels that there is an opportunity out there to be even better than they were last year.

“That communication piece is really high on this team,” Jones said.

While the team hasn’t looked too deep into the Milwaukee Panthers just yet, Watson expects a good challenge.

“We always expect each team to put up a fight,” Watson said.

Otzelberger said Milwaukee is a team that wants to get the game going up and down the court and will do whatever it takes to do so.

“They’ve had some high-scoring games as a result of their ability to press and force tempo,” Otzelberger said.

Otzelberger has a lot of respect for the 2-1 Panthers and has been impressed by what they’ve done already this season with first-year head coach Bart Lundy.

“We need to be very intentional. We need to make sure we’re valuing the ball, attacking pressure…it’s something we’ll see throughout the course of the year, so it’s a good opportunity for us.” Otzelberger said.