Iowa State's Jeremiah Williams suffered a left achilles tendon injury and will miss the 2022-23 season, per release. Transfer from Temple.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) October 7, 2022
Well, this isn’t how I expected my Friday morning to go. Williams wasn’t a big name in the transfer portal this offseason, but it was a good pickup for Iowa State, especially with T.J. Otzelberger’s system,
Williams averaged 9.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game last year, along with being a great defensive piece. Williams’ wingspan and ability to guard almost anyone on the floor with his 6’5 frame was a great pickup for Iowa State’s defense. He was expected to be the starting point guard this season, but now what? When a player is out for the season with an injury, I like to go through four questions that answer most people’s thoughts.
How does this affect the season as a whole?
This season was expected to be similar to last year with the offense below average (which is an understatement) and the defense being better. Most of the transfers Otzelberger brought in are mostly known for their defense besides Jaren Holmes. Williams was expected to share ball-handing duties with Holmes and be a part of one of the best defensive backcourts with Gabe Kalscheur. Personally, the Williams loss won’t make this a lost season before it even starts. We have no idea how he would have turned out this season. The beginning of the season may look a bit more shakey now, especially on offense but Tamin Lipsey and Eli King will get their chances this season. Not that there are bright sides to injuries, but we will now get to see Eli King and Lipsey a lot more now and will be able to see what they can do for this team. Overall, this Williams’ loss might cost us a game or two without his defense, but it opens the door to a potential breakout season for one of the freshmen.
What happens to the current open spot?
Nothing is super clear as of now, but I would suspect Caleb Grill to be the 5th starter to open the season on November 7th. We have seen games last season where Grill was lights out against Creighton and Kansas State. We also saw times when he hurried too much and seemed out of control at times. With no Williams, the Cyclones will go with a non-traditional point guard to start the season. Grill’s spacing and shooting could open the floor a lot more than Williams. On paper, the lineup of Holmes, Kalscheur, Grill, Kunc, Osunniyi doesn’t seem that bad. Could Lipsey be a starter sometime in the season? Of course, but I doubt a true freshman would be dropped into the starting lineup right off the bat. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a starting start later in the season. It all depends of how T.J. feels about it and if they can trust him at the point guard positon. Maybe he does start the season at point guard with the opportunity he’s been looking for. Eli King and Demarion Watson playing time will also increase this season. All three freshmen will have their chances to make some noise this season. Lipsey has impressed so far in the preseason and he’s very quick at his own pace. Transition points would be huge for an offense that struggles and Lipsey has the play style to help out with that.
Are there changes on offense now?
Not really, which is a positive for a team that is expected to have a lower-tier offense already. A couple of things Iowa State struggled at on offense last year were scoring droughts, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. Williams shot 23.1% from three and 63.2% from the charity stripe. The floor will be less crowded without Williams and it should open up with better shooting. The shot-making of Lipsey, King and Watson is still in question at the college level but it won’t take a lot to shoot better than Williams (no offense). The offense should stay the same, and perhaps be better with Grill, Lipsey or King in the starting lineup.
Are there changes on defense now?
This is where you will see the loss of Williams on the floor. The wingspan, height and ability to guard one through four were a major pros for Iowa State and T.J. Just like with the shooting, the defense at this level is unknown as of now with Lipsey and Eli King. If Grill is in the lineup, the defense will be worse than if Williams was playing. The backcourts of Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor could be a problem for Iowa State at times this season. With Holmes and Kalscheur still healthy the defense in the backcourt will remain a positive for Iowa State.
We never saw Jeremiah Williams play in a Cyclone uniform and don’t really have an idea of how it would have played out this season. One thing is for sure, the freshmen will play a bigger role than expected. It is exciting to get to see Lipsey, King and Watson get potentially more minutes this season and see how they can produce for this team. If only Iowa State had a track record of freshman point guards being standouts after being inserted into the starting lineup. Oh, wait a minute.....