After making the NCAA Tournament seven times in eight seasons, Iowa State has fallen on hard times and not much is expected to change this season under new coach T.J. Otzelberger.
Coming off the worst season in program history, the Cyclones are projected in a preseason media poll to finish last in the Big 12. They open the season Tuesday night when they host Atlantic Sun Conference foe Kennesaw State and look to snap an 18-game losing streak.
Iowa State went 14-42 in the final two seasons under Steve Prohm and last season averaged 65.6 points per game while going 2-22 and winless in 18 conference games. Otzelberger was hired based on his success — and 99-63 overall record — at South Dakota State and UNLV.
“When we’ve put in the hard work over time to earn it, that’s when it will come,” Otzelberger said. “I don’t know exactly when that’ll be. I’ve seen it happen here in this program. I’ve lived it. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve been a part of it, so I know what it looks like.”
A former Cyclones assistant, Otzelberger has lost three double-digit scorers from last year’s team in Rasir Bolton, Jalen Coleman-Lands and Solomon Young, who combined to average about 40 points per game.
Otzelberger is hoping transfer Gabe Kalscheur, who averaged 10.4 points in 68 games at Minnesota, can help fill the vacancy. The Cyclones also added Izaiah Brockington, who averaged 12.6 points while starting 24 games at Penn State last season.
Besides the former Big Ten guards, the Cyclones are hoping for big things out of Tyrese Hunter, who is a Top 50 recruit and averaged 18.9 points as a high school senior last season.
Iowa State is facing Kennesaw State for the second time. The Owls are tabbed for 11th in the Atlantic Sun’s preseason poll.
The Owls went 5-19 last season while boasting the conference’s second-leading scorer in Spencer Rodgers, who averaged 16.3 points per game. Rodgers is among four returning starters along with Chris Youngblood, who averaged 12.4 points as a freshman.
“I’m really excited about the work they put in this summer,” Owls coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said last month at the school’s Owl Madness event. “They worked really hard and came together as a team. We’re going into the season a year older, a year tougher, and a year smarter.”
–Field Level Media