Excited to be playing at home

Iowa State Athletics

Iowa State will be making its eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance, this time as a No. 7 seed.

We are dancing! With Selection Monday finished up, our team has a solid No. 7 seed, and we could not be more excited and ready to roll into the NCAA tournament. To top it off, we play our first round in Hilton Coliseum. There’s no better place to play our first-round tournament game then on our home court in front of our amazing hometown crowd.

With this being Iowa State’s eighth year in a row appearing in the tournament, I’m beyond excited to have the opportunity to be part of something as special as this is. However, as our coach, Bill Fennelly, said, “There’s a difference between being selected for the NCAA tournament and playing in the NCAA tournament.” We all want to be playing, so the grind of this upcoming week before Saturday’s first-round game against FSU begins.

As a freshman it’s a nerve-racking experience knowing how big of a stage the NCAA tournament is, but, thankfully, being surrounded by some great teammates and coaches who have been through this helps ease the anticipation of the unknown. While we sat around waiting on Monday, the upperclassmen were talking about all the excitement and fun that goes into it, making me even more excited.

Also, with the Big 12 tournament behind us, we’ve had a taste of playing in these big tournaments. However, a reporter asked me today about the nerves of “big-stage tournaments,” and there’s no lying there’s always nerves when it comes to playing any game, whether it’s at the beginning of the season or the tournament games. When it comes down to it, we just have to play basketball the way we know we can, the Iowa State way.

Coming off our one-and-done loss down in Oklahoma City was tough. That was not how we wanted to leave the Big 12 tournament, but there was a lot to learn from it. It’s a tough league, one where you can’t take any possessions off, as our coach always preaches to us. Although it wasn’t how we expected the Big 12 tournament to go, we now have the NCAA tournament to look forward to and focus on. Let’s dance, Cyclone Nation!