116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State guard Gabe Kalscheur welcomed a pair of new roommates this summer: St. Bonaventure graduate transfers Osun Osunniyi and Jaren Holmes.
They’ve bonded, of course, through basketball, bowling and hands of cards, but Kalscheur’s turned his new teammates onto something else, too.
He’s a big fan of the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things” and for good reason.
“It’s crazy,” said Kalscheur, who helped the Cyclones do what most outside observers considered a very strange thing last season — reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. “But I don’t want to spoil it for anybody that hasn’t been watching. Just know there’s gonna be more coming. I hope everyone tunes in.”
Why? Well, Kalscheur’s been through the upside down and made it sunny side up. ISU went from a two-win season two years ago to two wins in the NCAA tournament alone last March, so adhering to head coach T.J. Otzelberger's script clearly can produce buzzworthy results.
Now a largely new cast of characters — led by Kalscheur and a handful of holdovers aims to provide more pleasant surprises and plot twists.
The Cyclones lost leading scorer and rebounder Izaiah Brockington to the professional ranks, along with star freshman Tyrese Hunter, who chose to transfer to Big 12 rival Texas. But Kalscheur is convinced he can help lead this mostly new group to similar success.
“Seeing what we did with this program, from a 2-22 season to the Sweet 16, was incredible, but that just fuels me more,” said Kalscheur, who emerged as ISU’s best on-ball defender last season. “I believe that we could have made it to the Elite Eight. I feel like we should have made it to the Elite Eight and further as well, so that’s what’s pushing me.
“I want to get back to the NCAA tournament. I know the coaches want that and that’s pretty much the desire for everyone — especially the transfers.”
Kalscheur was one of them last season. Now he’s a sixth-year player who utilized his COVID-19-based option of returning for one more go-around at the college level to try to scale new heights.
“I have more to show,” said Kalscheur, whose 22-point performance fueled the Cyclones’ second-round tournament win over Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “I have more to prove through my college years and I have more in the tank. That’s why I really came back, to show ISU and the nation that there’s more to me and more consistency that I can prove as well.”
That starts with shooting. Kalscheur shot 36.3 percent from the field last season, but generally performed his best on bigger stages. Now he seeks to develop that consistency he mentioned above — and is binge-watching past seasons to help make that stick.
“I’ve watched film from my freshman year when I was shooting really well,” Kalscheur said. “I really just studied that and saw what works, what was I doing well. I’m a visual person, so just watching that and knowing what went wrong, what was good, and just taking bits and pieces from that and implementing that has definitely helped me in staying on point.”
And on message when it comes to “Stranger Things.” Kalscheur’s almost an evangelist for the series, which makes sense given what he helped conjure last season in Ames — and plans to revive again this winter not only as a player, but as a director, as well.
“I love Gabe,” Holmes said. “He’s been great. I hope we continue to get closer.”