It’s been a brutal past month for us Cyclone fans. Between the men's and women's teams getting dismantled in the tournament, Brock Purdy having surgery, and our women's squad falling apart just as Caitlin Clark and Iowa made the National Championship Game.
So I decided some much-needed positive vibes were in order. Though it didn’t end well, we once again exceeded expectations. No one thought we could be a six-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to some Cyclone fans, I offered up a survey and received back some interesting results on some of the favorite parts of the season. Let's rewind to when we were happy about sports.
1. Revenge is best served with a Grill
This was an undisputed number-one pick, and it’s easy to understand why. You could write a damn book about everything going on. Since 2019, the season series belonged to Texas, who had six wins, while Iowa State had four. So for starters, it’s been a tight series the past couple of years, and now we introduce the main villain......
Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter has committed to Texas, per his Twitter page.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 27, 2022
Significant Big 12 News.
We can get into all the different reasons of why he transferred, but there isn’t enough time in the day. Iowa State fans were quite upset with this news. Louisville and Purdue were in his top 6, and fans would be upset either way, but it would have a lighter blow if he went to one of those colleges. To put on the orange was an act of war, and Iowa State players saw it as such.
To add to the fire, Gabe Kalscheur let the internet know that he was looking forward to the Texas game the most. Tyrese responded was some excitement toward the game as well.
Coming into the game, Texas was ranked 7th, Iowa State was #12, and both were 4-1 in conference play. Tyrese aka Walking_Bucket, per his Twitter handle, wasn’t exactly living up to his Twitter name during the game. He finished with 10 points, going 3-11 from the field, and not even scoring in the second half. He must have left that “free smoke” at home.
While Tyrese was dealing with his inner demons, our Cyclones were there for business. 21 points from Jaren Holmes, 11 points and 7 rebounds for Shoon, 16 points for Kalscheur, and Caleb Grill ended with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and one of the greatest celebrations known to man.
“Call timeout!!” Caleb Grill to the Texas bench…legendary pic.twitter.com/OxzOalIzmu— The Field of 68 (@TheFieldOf68) January 18, 2023
I still don’t understand why Texas fans were upset at this. An interim head coach who had two timeouts was letting the game slip away. It was nice that Grill was helping out the little guy. Rodney Terry was about to see death in the form of Hilton Magic and Grill was just doing a nice thing. #ThankYouCalebGrill
2. Gradey Dick? More like Gradey Poop
Coming off the Texas Tech disaster, the Kansas game was much needed. The Clones had lost seven straight to the Jayhawks, including a two-point loss at Allen Fieldhouse earlier in the season. The defending champs coming into Hilton on a Saturday, *Goosebumps have entered the chat. As a member of the student section that game, I got in line at 6 am in the morning and wasn’t even close to the front. To put that in perspective, the start time was 11 am. The fans were ready.
The Cyclones had dropped two straight coming into that game. The fans were hungry, the players were hungry, and the group of students behind me in line who ordered Krispy Kreme donuts were obviously also hungry in more ways than one. Nevertheless, a win was much needed.
Iowa State took the lead with an Osun Osunniyi jump shot one minute and thirty seconds into the game and never lost it. A truly dominant performance all the way around, with the Cyclone coming away with the 68-53 victory. Tamin Lipsey had a tremendous game and let the world know who the point guard of the future was.
3. We smokin' that Wildcat pack
One of, if not the best games took place at Hilton Coliseum in late January. This had it all, and who else led the way in another win against a ranked opponent? Our guys Holmes and Kalscheur as they combined to go 15-22 from the floor and combined for 42 of the 80 total points.
The Cyclones trailed at the half by two, but per usual, no lead is safe inside Hilton. After a back-and-forth second half, Iowa State led by just two points with 48 seconds left. Gabe Kalscheur hit a mid-range jumper to extend the lead to 75-71, with the final score later being 80-76 Cyclones.
And of course, let’s not forget about Hason Ward, who gave us one of the best dunks of the season for Iowa State.
It was another sold-out home win, with the place going crazy on every play. After the Texas victory, there were rumors about Hilton Magic being back. Thanks to the win over K-State, we found out that the magic was just on sabbatical and it was here to stay.
4. Caleb Grill Day (some people also refer to this day as Thanksgiving, not sure why)
Family, food, giving thanks, and beating No. 1 in the nation is how I expect every Thanksgiving to go from now on. There were a lot of different thoughts as to where this game should be ranked. Did it age well? No (thanks a lot UNC), but regardless, this game meant so much for Iowa State in so many different ways.
Let’s start with the Caleb Grill portion. Coming into the game, Grill had just reached double-digit points once in the season. Against Villanova, Neutral Court Gabe arrived but was not present against UNC. Someone had to step up, why not the fan-favorite Caleb Grill? He was pretty quiet til Caleb Love hit him with the “too small” celebration after scoring on him. To say Grill took it personally would be an understatement.
Caleb Grill owns UNC. pic.twitter.com/vJD9K2L02S— ISU News & Updates (@ISUNews_Updates) March 2, 2023
He put up 31 points and 7 three-pointers while going 11-15 from the field against a backcourt who was playing in the National Championship just eight months prior.
Team-wise, it was so much more than a win. It gave us a look at a team that could seriously compete in the Big 12 and in the country (sadly, Pittsburgh had different ideas). In back-to-back games, Iowa State put up 81 points and 70 points against Blue Bloods (again this ages poorly) in Villanova and North Carolina. Watching last year's offense, these offensive performances gave this team a lot of hype. Holmes dropping 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, and Big Rob Energy coming off the bench contributing 10 points and 4 rebounds also needs to be praised.
After this game, it was not that difficult to convince yourself to believe in this team. The veteran leadership between Holmes and Kalscheur, the shooting of Grill, the post-play of Osunniyi and Jones, along with the other pieces....damn, how did we lose to Pittsburgh again?
Okay, I’m starting to get sad about to season; on to number 5!
5. Gabe “Onions!” Kalscheur
It’s not even about the game but just the shot itself. Sitting at 11-2 and coming off two wins against Baylor and at Oklahoma, this game was written down as a loss. No way the Cyclones follow up those two wins with a victory at Fort Worth, right? Well, Gabe Kalscheur had other ideas.
Kalscheur’s shot is the obvious key play from the game but don’t forget about the Cyclones having five players scoring double digits. Pretty impressive stuff, especially on the road in the Big 12.
There’s not much more to say about the shot or the game. Kalscheur had hit some big shots in his two years in Ames, but never a game-winner until this point. He was 0-5 from three in the game before hitting the shot, but there was no way that number was going to mess with his confidence. Ice in the veins, momma there goes that man, onions, or even Mike Breen’s bang would be perfect for this shot.
6. Anybody got a broom?
Every single win against Baylor this season doesn’t stick out as much as the games above, but combined they look awesome. Getting that win on New Year's Eve brought us back into the rankings, the Eli King/Conrad Hawley game, and our first win in the Big 12 Tournament since 2019 was fun to witness. Not to mention this happened against a program that won the National Championship just two years ago.
The New Year’s Eve win was so much fun. Kalscheur and Grill combined for 10-18 from three and Lipsey and Kalscheur gave us all-time hype play, which forced the bench to give it their all with their celebration.
Okay, let's break down the celebration from the bench:
3 Bunny Hops
1 Act Like You’re Dead Guy
3 three-point hand signs
0 Hold Me Back Guys (disappointing)
Then the win at Baylor, which was just so impressive. The game plan of “everybody being ready” and “we are going all in” is always so fun to watch, because it either ends with a surprising win or a hilarious loss. Lucky for us, the surprising win helped Iowa State complete their first regular season sweep of Baylor since 2013.
The tournament win was the cherry on top. “It’s hard to beat a team three times,” who said this? Who? Because Iowa State read this, read it again, and said nah. Neutral Court Gabe once again showed why he has that nickname with 24 points and six three-pointers. Tamin Lipsey finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Just a beautiful win, not a cute win, a beautiful win!