Iowa State will play host to the Lindenwood Lions (7 p.m., ESPN+) Thursday night at Hilton Coliseum in its second game of the year.
The Cyclones are coming off a season-opening 85-44 win over the Green Bay Phoenix. Lindenwood opened the season losing 84-52 to Nebraska on Monday.
The Lions are entering their second season as a Division 1 school, playing in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). They finished 8th in the league last season with an 11-21 overall record and a 6-12 record in conference play. The Lions are coached by Kyle Gerdeman, who is entering his fifth season at the helm.
Gerdeman returns three players from his team a year ago, including his second-leading scorer, Keenon Cole. Cole averaged just under 12.8 points per game and 5.7 rebounds last season. He was Lindenwood’s leading scorer with 14 points in Monday’s loss to Nebraska.
In today’s college basketball landscape, many coaches utilize the transfer portal to bring players in during the off-season that can be an immediate help. Gerdeman, though went heavy in the JUCO department.
The team brought in four players from junior colleges in Jaylon McDaniel (Northwest Florida State CC), Jeremiah Talton (John Wood CC), Nathan Johnson Jr. (Coffeyville CC), and Isaac Ondekane (Butler CC) for the 2023-24 season.
The lone Division 1 transfer came in Amoro Lado from Hawaii. Lado appeared in 27 games for the Rainbow Warriors, averaging five points per game on a 41 percent shooting clip from the floor and 34 percent from three.
The Lions also have a star in the making with talented 6-foot-4 193-pound true freshman Colin Ruffin. Ruffin came off the bench in the Lions’ first game against Nebraska and posted nine points and five rebounds.
On the offense
Lindenwood is very undersized and does not have a true big that they throw the ball to in the post. Instead, they use their forwards on the perimeter and dribble drive down the lane.
Keenan Cole (6-foot-7) and Jeremiah Talton (6-foot-6) bring the height to the game for Lindenwood. With their length, they both want to get downhill from the top of the key or from the wings and get to the free throw line.
Last season, the Lions shot 73 percent from the line and had five players shoot better than 72 percent on the season. Look for the Lions to attack the Cyclones on long closeouts and try to attack crazy rotations by the Cyclones to get to the free-throw line.
The Lions were average last season from behind the arc. They shot 36 percent as a team and lost three of their top four three-point shooters from a year ago.
In years past, Iowa State has played teams in their non-conference schedule that played a multitude of zone defenses. That is not the case with Lindenwood.
The Lions want to play in-your-face man-to-man defense and feast off your live ball turnovers.
The Lions’ lack of size hurt them in their opener with Nebraska. The Cornhusker bigs were able to really hurt Lindenwood on the offensive glass. That is something I fully expect Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger to preach to his team in the practices leading up to the game.
In the opener, the Cyclones really attacked the basket hard. Keshon Gilbert and Tamin Lipsey were effective in driving and kicking as well as finishing at the rim.
If the Cyclones can get the Lions scrambling on defense, look for Lipsey or Gilbert to drive to the hoop for kick out threes or easy layups at the rim.