Bill Fennelly will begin his 20th season as the head coach of the Iowa State women’s basketball team on Tuesday when the Cyclones will host the William Penn Statesmen in an exhibition contest at Hilton Coliseum.
Here are three things to watch for:
1. Who is going to start in the post?
After the graduation of Hallie Christofferson, manning the post is one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2014-15 season.
Freshmen Claire Ricketts and Bryanna Fernstrom are the final candidates to start at the center spot for the Cyclones on Tuesday but Fennelly is still unsure how the starting lineup will shake out.
“They’ve kind of gotten an equal amount of practice time. So it’ll kind of depend on what happens,” Fennelly said. “They are both going to play, and it’ll be one of those.”
Ricketts, who hails from Grand Prairie, Texas, was a three-star recruit according to ESPN and has shown to be the better athlete of the two.
“Claire is more athletic, can get up and down the court, probably defends and rebounds better,” Fennelly said.
But Fernstrom, who stands at 6 foot-5-inches, has been the better offensive option so far in practice.
“Bry has scored the ball better,” Fennelly said. “It’s one of those if we could put them together, as one, we’d have something really special.
While the lineup is still undecided, Ricketts is just ready to get the season started.
“I’m super excited. I can’t believe that it’s already coming up,” Ricketts said. “I’m really excited to see just how the season goes, and how we start out, and get into play.”
2. Who is going to replace Nikki Moody’s production?
Senior guard Nikki Moody will be sitting out for at least the first exhibition game after being suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules last week.
“We have high behavioral standards to allow us to develop our team in a way that we can have success on and off the court and her behavior has been inconsistent with those values,” Fennelly said in a press release. “Nikki can return to team activities if/when improvement is seen.”
Moody enters the season needing only 55 assists to move into second place on the Iowa State all-time assist chart.
Moody was second on the team in scoring last season with 12.5 points per game and led the team in assists at 5.3 per. She finished the season as a Second Team All-Big 12 performer.
That production will be hard to replace for the Cyclones but freshman point guard Nakiah Bell and sophomore Jadda Buckley will most likely be asked to fill the playmaking void left by Moody’s suspension.
Buckley was second on the team a season ago in assists with 3.3 per game, while also adding 10.9 points per game. Bell will be seeing her first college action.
Moody’s suspension will be something to watch not only in this game but moving forward, depending on its length. The Cyclones will need some guards to step up and replace one of the best playmakers in recent program history.
3. How does Fennelly’s team fare against his alma mater?
Bill Fennelly is a 1979 graduate of William Penn and got his start in coaching as a student coach there. He helped lead the 1980-81 Lady Statesmen to am AIAW national championship.
“It’s fun, I had a great experience there,” Fennelly said when asked about coaching against William Penn. “Probably the two best things, besides the birth of our boys, and now my grandson, that has ever happened to me is I met my wife there, and I started my coaching career there. William Penn will always have a special place in my heart.”
Even though William Penn will always hold a special place in Fennelly’s heart, the game won’t be any different for him.
“It’s more of a coincidence that I went to school there. I went to school there so long ago, they don’t really recognize that I went there,” Fennelly said. “It’s probably a good thing, but they are very proud that Deb (Fennelly’s wife) graduated from there.”
William Penn Lady Statesmen quick facts:
– The Lady Statesmen went 12-18 (3-9) last season and finished in 6th place of seven teams in the MCC.
– William Penn returns three starters from last year’s team in seniors Janay Pritchett, Jessie Kreuser and Katie Golomski.
2 – Nakiah Bell G 5’5” Freshman
11 – Jadda Buckley G 5’8” Sophomore 10.9 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game
12 – Seanna Johnson G 5’10” Sophomore 10.2 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists per game
22 – Brynn Williamson G/F 5’11” Senior 9.4 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 1.2 assists per game
30 – Claire Ricketts F 6’3” Freshman –or- 44 – Bryanna Fernstrom C 6’5” Freshman
5 – Kadejah Young G 5’4” Junior – 3.3 points per game
15 – Janay Pritchett G 5’5” Senior – 15 points per game, 2 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game
21 – Vanessa Kieres G 5’9” Senior – 11.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game
23 – Katie Golomski G 5’8” Senior – 4.7 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game
31 – Jessie Kreuser C 6’2” Senior – 10 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game