The Iowa State men’s basketball team will embark on a 10-day trip to Italy Saturday to build its teammates chemistry.
With the team on a 12-hour flight to Rome, the Cyclones — which features two transfers and four freshmen — will look to build team chemistry and each player will try to work on their individual game.
Coach Steve Prohm said the team will play lots of different lineups during the trip and will play Rasir Bolton, who is waiting for word on his eligibility next season from the NCAA, like he will be available for the Cyclones next season.
With 12 athletes to play, Prohm said Tyrese Haliburton will have the opportunity to sit and rest during the trip. Haliburton played for the U.S. at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece and was also invited to the Nike Skills Academy in California. The academy runs from Wednesday to Friday of this week, but Haliburton will leave the camp early to come back to Iowa State.
Prohm said the team has worked on man-to-man defense this off-season, but the main focus has been offense.
“We’ve spent a majority of the time on offense just so we understand the concepts and how to play,” Prohm said.
Aside from making open shots and rebounding, Prohm said if younger players want to make an early impact for the team, they need to be able to defend and know the team’s rules.
Of the four freshmen, Prohm said both Caleb Grill and Tre Jackson have done a good job during practices and he was impressed with Jackson’s ability to defend and make shots.
“The thing I liked about Tre Jackson when I saw him in the summer is his teams always won and he was a competitive, competitive kid and he could really make shots,” Prohm said.
To improve his shot, Jackson spends two to three hours a day shooting in the gym – something he says is much more accessible at the college level compared to in high school. In high school, Jackson said he was in class from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and had homework after, which left limited time to dedicate two to three hours on shooting.
Jackson is now able to regularly complete his full shooting workout – 100 shots under the rim, 200 to 300 shots from midrange and 300 to 500 shots from three-point range.
On the trip, Jackson said he needs to work on becoming a better distributor and wants the team to ‘be a family’.
Grill and fellow freshman Luke Anderson both said they want to grow closer with their teammates. Anderson said the team doesn’t know each other very well, but with a 12-hour flight — they will have plenty of time to become acquainted.
Prohm said Anderson needs to learn to play with a motor — a skilled sophomore teammate Zion Griffin has been developing since his freshman year.
Anderson, who missed the first two weeks of the offseason with a throat infection, is trying to catch up to the other players and grow his confidence — something he said all freshmen lose a little of when they move to the next level.
“You were always the best player growing up in your high school and now everybody was the best player in their high school,” Anderson said.
Anderson and the team will be able to build confidence — along with chemistry — when they play the Netherlands “B” national team in Rome on Tuesday, the Siena All-Stars in Siena on Aug. 15 and the Ivory Coast national team in Venice Aug. 17. All three games will be at noon local time.
Iowa State will be streaming the games via their social media accounts.