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Iowa State Cyclones are building something special

Matthew Morris BVM Sports Journalist
Matthew Morris

IOWA CITY, Iowa (BVM) – The Iowa State Cyclones have had a hot start to the season. They even had a huge win over North Carolina, who was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time. Iowa State so far has looked great even after losing two key guards in Tyrese Hunter and Izaiah Brockington. 247Sports.com’s Nick Osen joined “Simple Question” to talk about the Cyclones.

“I would say I have been impressed because I’m not sure I was expecting 7-1 and top 20, but I’m not surprised,” Osen said. 

Even after losing Brockington to the NBA Draft and Hunter to the transfer portal, the Cyclones have been showing off some impressive depth. They have three players that average 10 or more points with another three or four who can contribute just as much. In particular, the post play has become one of the strong parts of Iowa State’s game. Senior forward Robert Jones has stepped on the offensive side of the ball and Osun Osunniyi is averaging 10 points per game. 

“This year, down low is really looking good,” Osen said.

Depth and post play has been an addition to what Iowa State has always brought while T.J. Otzelberger has been coach: defense. The Cyclones are holding teams to under 60 points per game and are averaging more than 11 steals with freshman Tamin Lipsey leading the team with two steals per game. 

Lipsey along with his fellow freshmen, Demarion Watson and Eli King, are a perfect example of what Otzelberger and his staff are building in Ames. The Cyclones have become strong recruiters. The Class of 2023 is ranked seventh in the nation and features five-star recruit Omaha Biliew as well as four-stars Milan Momcilovic and Jelani Hamilton.

“If they’re in on somebody early I’m generally not going to doubt that they land their guy,” Osen said.   

The coaching staff has been building a lot of momentum. First by turning the team around from only two wins in 2020, then to a Sweet Sixteen appearance last year and now they are in the top 25. The recruiting only adds to that momentum.

“The staff is really impressive and I’m not shy in saying that pound for pound, it’s one of the best in the country,” Osen said. 

This staff and this roster will have their work cut out for them. The Big 12 is tough and along with Iowa State, the conference has four other teams in the top 25. 

“The Big 12 again is going to be a battle just about every night…I think it’s going to be a really tough conference season for most teams in that conference,” Osen said. 

Iowa State will be one of the reasons conference play will be a battle. The way the team plays defense, it will make opponents earn every basket. On offense, they have options and depth. The Cyclones could definitely make another run in the tournament.