Iowa State has been at work for a month now installing the new intricacies of new coach Steve Prohm's offense while shoring up the defense in advance of the 2015-16 season.
To date, however, that work has come with the cardinal versus the gold in practice. Saturday, the Cyclones will get to put things to the test for the first time when they host a "secret" scrimmage in Ames against Tulane.
Basketball programs are allowed two exhibition games against non-Division I opponents or can opt for one exhibition and a closed scrimmage against a Division I foe. Iowa State has opted for the latter and the first will take place Saturday before the Cyclones host Grand Valley State at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 6 in an exhibition.
While the scrimmage will be closed off, here are three things Iowa State will begin to learn.
1. Who Fills out Nos. 7-9?
Iowa State coach Steve Prohm has said multiple times that he knows who his top-6 are. That includes starters Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay along with sixth-man Matt Thomas.
Ahead of Iowa State's regular-season opener, and especially into Big 12 play, Prohm is working to determine who will make up the reaminder of the depth.
Deonte Burton will eventually factor into that 7-9 when he is eligible Dec. 19 against Northern Iowa. The scrimmage will give Prohm a close look at Hallice Cooke, Jordan Ashton and Simeon Carter, who should be in the mix for the other spots. Ashton and Cooke could be battling for minutes at a crowded 2-guard position.
2. Mitrou-Long's Progress
For the first time since his offseason hip surgeries, Naz Mitrou-Long participated in back-to-back practices last week. He has also participated in multiple intrasquad scrimmages, and all signs point to the senior being ready from the get-go.
Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said at Big 12 Media Day that Mitrou-Long could get days off throughout the season to keep him fresh, noting that Iowa State would rather him be fully ready in January, February and March than in November and December. Saturday's scrimmage will be yet another good test for Mitrou-Long.
3. How's that Defense?
Steve Prohm has been preaching defense and Iowa State has tried some new looks in addition to guarding tighter. The scrimmage against Tulane will provide an opportunity to put those things to the test against an offense other than its own.