AMES — With a handful of questions surrounding this year’s Iowa State women’s basketball team, what can we be certain of heading into the 2017-18 season?
Here are a couple notes heading into Sunday’s exhibition matchup against Division III Wisconsin-La Crosse (noon on Cyclones.tv).
Fennelly experimenting with lineup combinations
Head coach Bill Fennelly made it clear that exhibitions are best used to try out a combination of lineups to get a feel for what players do best together.
That is especially the case this year. Not only is there no official starting point guard slated so far for the Cyclones, but the starting five also still undetermined.
Bridget Carleton sees that as a benefit.
“I think that’s one of the positives, everyone’s competing for minutes, every single practice, so everyone’s giving it their all,” Carleton said. “Everyone is getting their opportunity to show [Fennelly] and the coaches that they deserve to play and deserve to be on the floor.”
Still, Fennelly understands the lack of experience on this young Cyclones team. He alluded to having four players on the court at once during their last scrimmage against Nebraska, all of whom haven’t played a second of Division I basketball.
By putting an emphasis on in-game experience, Fennelly acknowledged that it will take time to determine the true rotation.
“The lights in here are a little different than the lights in Hilton” said Fennelly.
Bride Kennedy-Hopoate is opening eyeballs
The junior transfer out of Brisbane, Australia has showed out in practice thus far, to the notice of both Fennelly and Carleton.
Bride has the chance to be a huge addition this season in helping forward Meredith Burkhall elevate ISU’s play in the paint. Known for her physicality,Bride has an already impressive resume after averaging 12 points and six boards at Hutchinson Community College.
From running the soccer field to lifting weights, conditioning has been one aspect that Bride has worked extremely hard on to improve upon. She says that the tempo is something she still is getting used to.
After impressing early, Fennelly said he has gone from expecting 2-5 minutes a game out of her to placing her in the starting lineup for the upcoming game against Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Sofija Živaljevic’ has transferred
On Tuesday, Fennelly announced that Sofija Živaljevic’ would be leaving the team to pursue a new opportunity.
Živaljevic’, a 5-foot-9 guard from Podgorica, Montenegro, has appeared in eight games for the Cyclones. Upon arriving at Iowa State, she was rated a four-star prospect on Blue Star Europe and competed for Montenegro’s U20 national team.
“I want to thank everyone at Iowa State for everything they have done for me,” Živaljevic’ said. “I am just wanting to go somewhere where I can have the opportunity to play. I wish all of the Iowa State coaches and my teammates the best of luck this season.”
Two final thoughts
— If there is something this group does not need to work on, it is chemistry. The overall feeling around the program is that this team has been a cohesive unit since day one.
— Fennelly said that one of his best players, unfortunately, is on the scout team, referencing senior guard Alexa Middleton. A transfer out of Tennessee, Middleton will undoubtedly be a key player for the Cyclones in the 2018-2019 season.