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‘Everyone has to step up’: Lipsey’s injury creates opportunity for others to shine

Jacob Rice
Tamin Lipsey is helped up by Jackson Paveletzke and Robert Jones after a player-on-player collision in the second half of the Iowa State vs. Eastern Illinois University men’s basketball game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 21, 2023.

AMES — A disappointing showing against BYU not only handed the Cyclones another road loss in Big 12 play but dealt a major blow to Iowa State’s path to success going forward, as Tamin Lipsey is being considered day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

Lipsey left Tuesday’s blowout loss late grabbing his arm. Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger announced Thursday that Lipsey suffered a shoulder sprain and is hopeful he can be ready by Saturday, but there is a good chance he will not play.

With another tough road matchup awaiting the Cyclones, the game plan is to prepare as if Lipsey will miss the contest.

Otzelberger ensured his team was ready for anything as Big 12 play gets into full swing. With the way Lipsey plays, it was bound to wear on him at some point.

Lipsey has an aggressive playstyle that sees him dive around the floor going for balls and tossing himself into the paint to secure fouls and buckets. That aggressive playstyle has allowed him to turn Iowa State’s offense into a serious threat while rocketing him into the public eye as one of the better point guards in the nation; however, it is starting to catch up with him.

“Tamin just plays extremely hard,” Otzelberger said. “Everything he does takes a toll. There’s a wear and tear on his body.”

Although there is a chance that Lipsey has been banged up for a good chunk of games, Saturday will be the first game of the season the Cyclones have to play without him.

However, when he gets back on the court, even if it is against TCU, Lipsey’s winning mentality will not change.

“He’s not gonna change,” Otzelberger said. “He’s such a winner and a competitor. He’s gonna do what it takes, and he puts his body on the line.”

As for the team, they are not too worried about replacing his minutes on the court, even with the amount of impact he brings. The Cyclones have a deep guard room with talent coming off the bench every night.

Although not having Lipsey will inevitably cause a slight dip in offensive production and defensive prowess, the Cyclones’ mentality going forward does not change.

“I think it’s business as usual,” Otzelberger said.

The team has practiced without Lipsey, as he takes rest days to keep his body strong. As they prepare for TCU, they are going to use that experience in practices without Lipsey to find success in the near future.

“He usually has a rest day once or twice a week, so [we’re] kinda used to it—obviously, missing him because he’s a leader on the floor,” Milan Momcilovic said.

Although Lipsey might not get the chance to be a leader on the floor, he can still impact the game and help with communication in practice. It will be up to him to get everyone up to speed.

Otzelberger mentioned a handful of guys who will see more opportunities to impact the games going forward as Lipsey gets healthy. Curtis Jones and Jackson Paveletzke have experience running the point and getting significant minutes.

Along with them, Demarion Watson has also seen an increased role in the start of Big 12 play. Those three and Keshon Gilbert will be the group that steps up to take over Lipsey’s minutes.

“Everybody kinda moves one place forward,” Otzelberger said.

The next ones up do not just have to reproduce Lipsey’s offensive output, they also have to lock in and step up defensively. Night in and night out, Lipsey significantly impacts the defensive end of the court, forcing turnovers and poor shots.

Players like Watson and Momcilovic will have to bring the fire on defense that Lipsey normally brings.

Gilbert must also lock in offensively to get back on the right track. After a quiet start to Big 12 play, it is now or never for the transfer players to make the most of their opportunity.

With Lipsey most likely sitting out against TCU, the team is more focused than ever and ready to continue competing hard in the nation’s toughest basketball conference.

“Everyone has to step up,” Momcilovic said.

For everyone on the team, the solution is clear.

“Everybody’s gotta step up,” Paveletzke said. “Whatever happens, we’ll figure it out.”

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