Summer is expected to be a season of growth around Iowa State.
From a football team that reports for the start of summer work next Monday to men’s and women’s basketball teams filled with fresh faces that will get to know each other during foreign trips, the Cyclones anticipate future success to sprout in upcoming weeks and months.
From football coach Matt Campbell to basketball coaches T.J. Oetzelberger and Bill Fennelly, the promise of a new season was at the core of what they had to say when the Cyclone Tailgate Tour visited the Quad-Cities on Wednesday.
The trio were joined by wrestling assistant coach Brent Metcalf on the program for the midday event at the Isle of Capri Hotel in Bettendorf.
Campbell told that crowd that a youthful Iowa State team which endured a 4-8 season a year ago will learn from its experiences.
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"We were a young team that played like a young team at times," Campbell said.
The Cyclones had their moments, however, defeating Iowa 10-7 at Kinnick Stadium to earn the Cy-Hawk Trophy that was on display Wednesday.
ISU played opponents close, dropping six games by one touchdown or less.
Those experiences and the frustration of the moment now provide motivation.
"In each phase since the start of the offseason, these guys have embraced the challenge and I’m excited about what I have seen from them," Campbell said. "I’m excited about their approach and about the growth they can make over the next 10 weeks before camp opens in August."
Campbell said the experiences – the good and bad of the 2022 season – have provided a foundation for the Cyclones to build on in a 2023 season that opens with home games against Northern Iowa and Iowa.
"We’re counting on that," Campbell said. "We’re counting on that experience to help us become a more mature football team this fall. We’re a year older and that should make a difference."
In basketball, a sport where roster fluidity has become commonplace throughout the country, Otzelberger and Fennelly count on foreign trips to help bond Iowa State teams that will have no shortage of newcomers on their rosters.
The Iowa State men will feature seven newcomers while the Cyclone women’s team will build around five freshmen and two transfers.
"This is really the third year we’ve been in almost the same situation," Otzelberger said. "It’s the reality of our game right now each summer you spend time learning about each other and figuring out how it all fits together."
The Cyclones were the only Division I program in the nation to win six games against top-10 opponents last season and building a team with that type of cohesion begins on June 11 when this year’s group reports.
The ISU men will have four freshmen and three transfers on their roster and Otzelberger said returning Cyclones hold the key to how it all will turn out.
"It’s up to our veteran guys to bring those newcomers into the fold and help them fit in," Otzelberger said. "Their ability to do that this summer, something that has happened the last two years, is important. They’ll help the new guys adapt and adjust."
Fennelly counts on the same.
"It’s going to be a completely different roster and I’m excited about the possibilities," Fennelly said. "It will be a good summer because we’re going to grow a lot and begin to come together into the type of team I feel like we can be."
Both teams will benefit this summer from additional practice time allowed before taking a foreign trip.
Otzelberger will take his team to the Bahamas for three exhibition games during a trip that will run from Aug. 4-10.
"Our ability to go there and look at different lineup combinations and see how guys react to the situations they are presented with is going to be significant," Otzelberger said. "It’s the right time for us to do this."
The Cyclone women report on June 12 and will work eight weeks before traveling to Greece and Italy from Aug. 7-17.
"The 10 practices we are going to have and the exhibitions we will play over there couldn’t come at a better time," Fennelly said. "It’s going to give us some great experience heading into next season."
The ISU women will work to replace what the school’s career scoring leader, Ashley Joens, brought to the program over the past five seasons. One of the three Cheryl Miller Award trophies won by Joens was also on display Wednesday.
"We have a lot to work on this summer but it’s going to be fun to watch this group grow and come together," Fennelly said.
Metcalf said the Cyclone wrestling team continues show signs of growth but expects more.
"The growth we saw last summer, it carried over. We had a good, solid season, did a lot of good thing, had our best finish, but we’re not where we want to be," Metcalf said. "The thing I like is that we had four freshmen in our lineup, four guys who were out there making a difference and will continue to do so."