In the heat of the summer, getting real, in-game reps is tough for women’s basketball players. That is especially the case once the season ends and classes are still in session.
However, that didn’t stop three of Iowa State’s returning starters – and a graduated senior – from competing in a USA Basketball three-on-three competition the weekend prior to final exams on campus.
That’s just the kind of team coach Bill Fennelly has in Ames, right now.
“Some kids are interested in that type of stuff, some kind of shy away from it, but that group really wanted to go,” Fennelly said. “With [Kristin Scott] and [Ashley Joens] going, it’s a good experience for them. It gave [Madison Wise] a chance to be more of a focal point of the team, and we wanted [Alexa Middleton] to have another opportunity to play and showcase her skills.”
Fennelly touched on that and more at the first stop on the 2019 Tailgate Tour in Audubon on Monday.
In their trip to Las Vegas for the USA basketball event, the returning Cyclones picked up valuable training time that will help them get ready for the 2019-2020 season.
“They did okay,” Fennelly said. “They went 2-3, but they played well and it was a great experience for them. The USA Basketball people really loved the way they played and how they played.”
Another focus for sending Middleton along with the returners was that the staff in Ames wanted to give her another opportunity to play. That’s not just for herself, either. The staff wants to see Middleton land a pro contract like her former teammate Bridget Carleton.
“It’s a great honor, and not just for those kids, but for Iowa State to be invited,” Fennelly said. “It’s a great, great honor for them. I’ve had that honor coaching for USA Basketball. For those guys to come home with a USA Basketball shirt says a lot.”
The tailgate tour marks a bit of a relaxing break for Fennelly, who has been around the country on the recruiting trail along with the rest of his staff. In the few weeks leading up to the start of the tour, the staff had visited Frisco, Hampton, Milwaukee, and even Manheim, Penn.
“We’re working hard at it trying to get the kids that know what they are about,” Fennelly said.
It may seem like the staff is recruiting in a random slew of places across the country, but that’s just the kind of way things are with the AAU circuit in women’s hoops.
“It’s kind of normal [for recruiting],” Fennelly said. “You kind of go to where the tournaments are. The events are planned in certain spots and it’s just a matter of where the kids are. It’s kind of like fishing – you go where the fish are.”
At the same time, Bridget Carleton got her WNBA career started officially with a pair of back-to-back exhibition games on Monday and Tuesday with the Connecticut Sun.
In the first game, Carleton tallied five points in 11:09 of action. She was 1-3 from the field with a 3-pointer.
Tuesday brought a bit more of playing time for the Canadian, though. The Chatham, Ontario native finished with 14:34 and shot 3-7 from the field with seven points. Carleton finished with the highest plus/minus on the team.
Iowa State will continue its Tailgate Tour around Iowa over the next two weeks, concluding in Waterloo on May 22.