Cyclones hungry for a long tournament run

Iowa State Cyclones’ forward Aljaz Kunc (5) celebrates after winning 51-47 over Texas Tech of an NCAA college basketball game at Hilton Coliseum Wednesday, Jan 6. 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Aljaz Kunc is hungry.

He’s been hungry for a while, four years, to be exact, for an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Now, with 11-seed Iowa State slated to face 6-seed LSU on Friday in the first round of the big dance, the former Washington State transfer is hungry to make the Cyclones’ stay in the bracket a long one.

“Being here, I feel very grateful and appreciative, but, once you get here, just being here is not enough for me,” Kunc said shortly after the team’s arrival here in Milwaukee on Wednesday. “We came here on a business trip, we didn’t come here to have fun or whatever. We’re gonna go into the game on Friday hungry, aiming for as many games as we can play.”

During Kunc’s three years at Washington State, the Cougars never came particularly close to qualifying for the postseason. They finished with a record above .500 only once in Kunc’s time in Pullman, and that 14-13 record last season was partially the result of a COVID-shortened schedule.

Kunc’s team success trajectory largely mirrors the rest of Iowa State’s roster.

Minnesota transfer Gabe Kalscheur is the only Cyclone with extensive NCAA Tournament playing experience, but that came during his freshman season in 2019 when he logged 66 minutes across two games, including a 24-point outburst in the Gophers’ first-round win over Louisville.

Izaiah Brockington played 14 minutes in this tournament during his freshman season at St. Bonaventure in 2018, and George Conditt logged four minutes in the Cyclones’ first-round loss to Ohio State in 2019.

That’s the entirety of this Iowa State roster’s tournament experience despite it sitting inside the top-100 nationally in KenPom’s experience metric.

As a group, these guys have logged a lot of minutes playing college basketball. They’re a veteran group made up of men who have been longing for an opportunity to dance.

Now, they’re here — and hope to make this stay a long one.

“Nothing is ever a sure thing,” Conditt said. “Thinking about going back four years ago, I would have been like, ‘Man, I’m making NCAA tournament every year.’ It’s not for sure. Things happen. Stuff happens. Bad seasons happen. Just got to own up to it and move on… I’m super thankful, man. I’m blessed. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come here and still put on a Cyclone jersey, another chance.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.